Fortunes of a Renaissance Merchant FamilyBy Philip Jacks and William Caferro
Publish Date: 11/5/2001
"Washington University architectural historian Philip Jacks and Vanderbilt economic historian William Caferro have blended their individual interests in the Spinelli family and their deep research into its recently opened archival remains in the Beinecke Library (Yale), to produce an integrated study of Tommaso di Lionardo Spinelli (1398-1472), his ancestors, mercantile activities, art patronage and situations in Roman and Florentine society.
Though Caferro is presumably more interested in the ways in which Tommaso acquired his wealth as a banker and cloth merchant, and Jacks in the ways he spent his profits on his country villa, urban palazzo and neighborhood church (Santa Croce), the lavishly produced study they present has been carefully rendered seamless.
By working together to produce this distinctive portrait, Jacks and Caferro
have produced an excellent study that reminds us of the value of collaborative scholarship.
"At the heart of an interpretation, advises St. Jerome, lies 'not what you find, but what you seek.' Jacks and Caferro
have found a great deal indeed.
In an inspired collaboration, they have worked through centuries of documents in the unusually intact Spinelli Archive, housed since 1988 at Yale's Beinecke Library.
As a result, The Spinelli of Florence is a splendidly detailed account of one merchant-banking family's vicissitudes from the mid-thirteenth to the late fifteenth century.
If, in contributing to all these issues, Jacks and Caferro
never ascend to the crystalline heights of, say, Bizocchi's article-length study of the Buondelmonte, they have nevertheless co-written a family history unprecedented in its interdisciplinary achievement.
William Caferro is Assistant Professor of History at Vanderbilt University.
previous book are The Unbounded Community: Conversations across Time(1994) and The Companies of Adventure and the Decline of Siena (forthcoming).