Offering snapshots of mercantile devotion to saints in different regions, this volume is the first to ask explicitly how merchants invoked saints, and why. Despite medieval and modern stereotypes of merchants as godless and avaricious, medieval traders were highly devout – and rightly so. Overseas trade was dangerous, and merchants’ commercial activities were seen as jeopardizing their souls. Merchants turned to saints for protection and succor, identifying those most likely to preserve their goods, families, reputations, and souls.
The essays in this collection, written from diverse angles, range across later medieval western Europe, from Spain to Italy to England and the Hanseatic League. They offer a multi-disciplinary examination of the ways that medieval merchants, from petty traders to influential overseas wholesalers, deployed the cults of saints. Three primary themes are addressed: danger, community, and the unity of spiritual and cultural capital. Each of these themes allows the international panel of contributors to demonstrate the significant role of saints in mercantile life.
This book is unique in its exploration of saints and commerce, shedding light on the everyday role religion played in medieval life. As such, it will be of keen interest to scholars of religious history, medieval history, art history, and literature.
1 Introduction, Emily Kelley and Cynthia Turner Camp 2 Cuthbertine Hermits and North Sea Merchant Traders, Christiania Whitehead 3 The Sunday Saint: Keeping a Holy "Merchant’s Time" in the Middle English Life of Erasmus, Cynthia Turner Camp 4 Birgitta of Sweden and the Merchant Classes of Lübeck, Elizabeth A. Andersen 5 For the Hope of Salvation and the Honor of Family: Merchant Devotional Concerns in Early Sixteenth-Century Burgos, Emily Kelley 6 For Salvation or Reputation? The Representation of Saints in a Jouvenel des Ursins Book of Hours, Jennifer Courts 7 Spaces and Times for Worship: Merchant Devotion to the Saints in Late Medieval Barcelona, Montserrat Barniol López 8 The Fisher Miscellany: Reconstructing a Late Medieval Merchant Family’s Book and its Fashionable Hagiography, Joni Henry 9 London’s Goldsmiths and the Cult of St. Dunstan, ca. 1430-1530, Gary G. Gibbs 10 Success, Salvation, and Servitude: Tallinn’s Brotherhood of the Black Heads and its Relationship with Local and Regional Saint Cults, Lehti Mairike Keelmann 11 Reanimating the Power of Holy Protectors: Merchants and their Saints in the Visual Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Venice, Karen Rose Mathews 12 Afterword: The Service of Merchants: Politics, Wealth, and Intercessional Devotion in Later Medieval Italy, Janine Larmon Peterson