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Business and politics in late medieval Iberia: mercantile elites in the Kingdom of Aragon (1380-1430)

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Recent works on late-medieval commerce in the Crown of Aragon have made clear the importance of a group of businessmen settled in Zaragoza, the capital of the kingdom of Aragon. At the end of the fourteenth century and beginning of the fifteenth, this small group of businessmen intervened on a large scale in the financing of the state, principally through the market of the institutional public debt and hiring the commercial taxes of the kingdom. Their important businesses suppose the mobilization of very high sums of money and the formation of leading commercial companies that promote mercantile and family connections that spread over the whole kingdom and the Crown from the interior of the Peninsula and the south of France towards the Mediterranean Sea. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview and an analysis of the political role of this financial and commercial elite. Therefore, we are interested in the targets and the strategies of these people, and their capacity for political performance, expressed in their patrimonies (financial, mercantile, territorial), professional activities, family behaviors and the construction of social networks. My prosopographical research offers an intermediate approach between the studies on the individual protagonists and the large social groups, and has proved its efficiency in analyzing dispersed and fragmentary sources like the ones we have at our disposal.

This talk is part of the Graduate Workshop in Economic and Social History series.

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