Florentine Families in Hungary in the First Half of the Fifteenth Century*
National Archives of Hungary
This essay, based on a prosopographic database backed by extensive archival research both in Florence and Hungary, offers an overview on the patterns of the presence of Florentine merchants in medieval Hungary. Among the research questions, the Florentine businessmen’s main fields of interest in the kingdom are of utmost importance, because their interests shaped the patterns of their presence in the kingdom. Also, their financial and economic background in Florence significantly influenced the opportunities they had in Hungary. Thus, the forms of cooperation within the closer local and extended international networks within which they moved prove to be revealing with regards to business as it was run in Hungary. The reconstruction of this network also allows us to identify clusters of Florentine business partners residing in Florence who were investing in Hungary by cooperating with their fellow countrymen actively present in the country. I also offer a detailed analysis of the Florentines’ use of credit in Hungary, focusing on both commercial and money credit transactions and the various forms of transactions used to run business ventures there. Finally, I examine Buda’s role as a royal seat and major trade hub from the point of view of the two major foreign trading diasporas hosted in the town, the Italian/Florentine and southern German ethnic groups. I offer a comparative analysis of their interaction and the different patterns of their social ambitions and economic activity in Buda.
Keywords: Florentine merchants, German merchants, Hungary, Buda, King Sigismund of Luxemburg, Florentine Catasto, financial administration, economic relations