1st Edition

Filippo Sassetti on Trade, Institutions and Empire

By Corey Tazzara Copyright 2023

    The Florentine traveler, merchant, and academician Filippo Sassetti was one of the premier economic thinkers of the late Renaissance. Well known for his ethnographic observations, Sassetti was also a commercial writer of the highest caliber—at once an original thinker and a remarkable witness to how Europeans even at the margins of empire were beginning to reconceptualize power and wealth.

    Unique among commercial theorists of the period, Sassetti offers a first-hand perspective on commerce in both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. This volume translates (for the first time) the Discourse on Mediterranean Trade and a selection of the principal Indian Letters, with extensive historical notes. These are preceded by a lengthy essay positioning Sassetti as a figure in late Renaissance political economy. It makes the case that Sassetti was an early theorist of what might be termed the pragmatic tradition of free trade—in his case, a project linked to his analysis of commercial institutions in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

    Provoking an invaluable overview of trade in the Indian Ocean in the late sixteenth century, this volume is an excellent specialist text for postgraduate students and professional historians.

    Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, Texts and Translations, Abbreviations, Monetary Units, Maps, Preface: Filippo Sassetti and Portuguese India (Sanjay Subrahmanyam), Chapter 1. The World is a Village? Filippo Sassetti on Trade, Empire, and Institutions in the Renaissance, Chapter 2. Discourse on Mediterranean Trade, Chapter 3. Indian Letters, Index


    Corey Tazzara is Associate Professor of History at Scripps College. He is the author of The Free Port of Livorno (Oxford, 2017) as well as the editor (along with Paula Findlen and Jacob Soll) of Florence after the Medici: Tuscan Enlightenment, 1737–1790 (Routledge, 2019).