1st Edition

Networks in the Early History of Capitalism Merchant Practices in Renaissance Venice

By Stefania Montemezzo Copyright 2025
    256 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Drawing on a detailed examination of Venetian commerce in the Middle Ages, this book explores the business practices and structures that enabled merchants to compete in a challenging international market.

    Contributing to the literature on the early history of capitalism, the book demonstrates how Venetian merchants combined innovation with traditional methods to maintain their edge in a competitive world, providing valuable lessons on resilience and strategic planning in commerce. Small and mid-sized commercial companies operating across borders and geographies in the early Renaissance period faced numerous challenges including identifying profitable sectors and businesses, developing effective business strategy, dealing with peers and subordinates, managing the flow of information, and assessing risks and potential rewards. The chapters explore a range of topics in this context including the roles of family-based firms, the strategic deployment of agents, and the impact of state policies on private enterprise. Readers are introduced to the ways Venetian merchants managed capital, adapted to market demands, and overcame obstacles like wars and resource shortages.

    This book will be of significant interest to historians and social scientists researching economic history, the history of trade, the history of capitalism, medieval and Renaissance history and historical network analysis.


    1. Venetian business models

    2. Companies and public institutions

    3. Commercial Strategies

    4. Capital: tools, turnover and investments

    5. Agent and intermediaries






    Stefania Montemezzo is an economic and social historian with a keen interest in the Renaissance period in Italy. Her research primarily investigates the extensive trade networks of late medieval Venice, focusing on how these networks managed conflicts and facilitated trade across the Mediterranean. She also examines the material culture of the time, particularly the consumption patterns and everyday life of the lower social strata. Stefania received her PhD in Economic History from the University of Verona. Her professional experience includes research fellowships at the University of Bologna, Aalto University in Helsinki, the University of Padua, and I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Her work integrates thorough archival research with a nuanced understanding of historical economic and social structures.