I am always trying to find interesting ideas for business themed blog posts, so when I saw the banners for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s “The Wonder of Will at 400,” I immediately thought of the Merchant of Venice.
Since ours is a science and business blog, this is not going to be an analysis of the play! The Library’s collections contain a lot related to the real Venice, which has long captured the imagination. There are, of course, many books on the history, art/architecture, and government/politics, but I really wanted to focus on finding those books about commerce. I wasn’t disappointed. There was quite a bit published and befitting a place with a history of international commerce, they were written in many different languages:
- Merchant Culture in Fourteenth Century Venice: the Zibaldone da Canal / translated with an introduction and notes by John E. Dotson.
- At the Centre of the Old World: Trade and Manufacturing in Venice and on the Venetian Mainland (1400-1800).
- Storia Civile e Politica del Commercio de’ Veneziani.
- Zur Entstehung des Kapitalismus in Venedig.
- Origine ed Influenza della Classe Mercantile Nella Republica di Venezia.
- City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas.
One name that came up several times was Frederick C. Lane, a historian specializing in medieval history. He seemed to have a real interest in the city of Venice and wrote a number of books and articles including:
- Andrea Barbarigo, Merchant of Venice, 1418-1449.
- Money and Banking in Medieval and Renaissance Venice: Coins and Moneys of Account.
- Studies in Venetian Social and Economic History.
- Venetian Ships and Shipbuilders of the Renaissance.
To get a fuller picture about Venice’s place in world commerce, titles like Markets and Merchants of the Late Seventeenth Century: the Marescoe-David Letters, 1668-1680 and Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World: Illustrative Documents might be interesting, as would books on Italian banking history – especially those focused on Venice like The Venetian Money Market : Banks, Panics, and the Public Debt, 1200-1500.
If you want to learn about the real Venice, there is so much more to be discovered in the books and other resources at the Library.