1st Edition

The Wealth of Communities War, Resources and Cooperation in Renaissance Lombardy

By Matteo Di Tullio Copyright 2014

    The early decades of the sixteenth century were a turbulent time for the Italian peninsula as competing centres of power struggled for political control. Nowhere was this more true than the area contested by Milan and Venice, that was constantly crossed and occupied by rival armies. Investigating the impact of successive crises upon the inhabitants of the Po Valley, this book challenges many fundamental assumptions about the relationship between war and economic development and draws conclusion that have implications for early modern Europe as a whole. In traditional historiography, periods of war and general crisis have often been regarded as promoting a shift in resources from the communal towards a small number of individuals. However, through a close micro-study of a single region, this book offers a different perspective. Rather than promoting an aggressive individualism, it is argued that in times of general crisis, social networks aimed to reproduce themselves and the original status quo by developing creative solutions and institutions favouring co-operation. Furthermore the elites could not always exploit ’local’ wealth because of the need to protect their position of leadership within the community, which required the preservation of that very community. This thesis not only challenges the received wisdom, but also fuels a new debate about the ways in which economic growth occurred in Early Modern Italy and Europe.

    Contents: Introduction. Part I Politicking: Producing the territory; Governing the places. Part II Managing Resources: Collecting resources; Spending; Redistributing. Conclusions; Statistical appendix; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.


    Matteo Di Tullio is a Research Fellow at Bocconi University (Milan, Italy), where he teaches economic history. He is a member of the 'Dondena' Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (Bocconi University, Milan, Italy) and an associate member of the Centre de Recherches Historiques de l’Ouest (CERHIO, Rennes 2 University, France). His principal fields of research are the history of the dynamics of the concentration and distributions of wealth, the history of the management of resources (environmental and economical) in local communities, rural history, the history of tax and finance, and demographic history in the pre-industrial era. He is co-author of a book on the budgets of the State of Milan under the French dominions of the sixteenth century (Stati di Guerra. I bilanci della Lombardia francese del primo Cinquecento, Rome: École française de Rome 2014, with L. Fois) and he is co-editor of a book on the interactions between the economy and the environment in pre-industrial Italy (Storia economica e ambiente italiano, Milan: Franco Angeli 2012, with G. Alfani and L. Mocarelli).