Francesco Balducci Pegolotti - Encyclopedia

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FRANCESCO BALDUCCI PEGOLOTTI (fl. 1315-1340), Florentine merchant and writer, was a factor in the service of the mercantile house of the Bardi, and in this capacity we find him at Antwerp from 1315 (or earlier) to 1317; in London in 1317 and apparently for some time after; in Cyprus from 1324 to 1327, and again (or perhaps in unbroken continuation of his former residence) in 1335. In this last year he obtained from the king of Little Armenia (i.e. medieval Cilicia, &c.) a grant of privileges for Florentine trade. Between 1335 and 1343, probably in 1339-1340, he compiled his Libro di divisamenti di paesi e di misuri di mercatanzie e d'altre cose bisognevoli di sapere a' mercatanti, commonly known as the Pratica della mercatura (the name given it by Pagnini). Beginning with a sort of glossary of foreign terms then in use for all kinds of taxes or payments on merchandise as well as for "every kind of place where goods might be bought or sold in cities," the Pratica next describes some of the chief trade routes of the 14th century, and many of the principal markets then known to Italian merchants; the imports and exports of various important commercial regions; the business customs prevalent in each of those regions; and the comparative value of the leading moneys, weights and measures. The most distant and extensive trade routes described by Pegolotti are: (1) that from Tana or Azov to Peking via Astrakhan, Khiva, Otrar, Kulja and Kanchow (Gittarchan, Organci, Ottrarre, Armalecco and Camexu in the Pratica); (2) that from Lajazzo on the Cilician coast to Tabriz in north Persia via Sivas, Erzingan and Erzerum (Salvastro, Arzinga and Arzerone); (3) that from Trebizond to Tabriz. Among the markets enumerated are: Tana, Constantinople, Alexandria, Damietta, and the ports of Cyprus and the Crimea. Pegolotti's notices of ports on the north of the Black Sea are very valuable; his works show us that Florentine exports had now gained a high reputation in the Levant. In other chapters an account is given of 14th-century methods of packing goods (ch. 29); of assaying gold and silver (ch. 35); of shipment; of "London in England in itself" (ch. 62); of monasteries in Scotland and England ("Scotland of England," Scozia di Inghilterra) that were rich in wool (ch. 63). Among the latter are Newbattle, Balmerino, Cupar, Dunfermline, Dundrennan, Glenluce, Coldingham, Kelso, Newminster near Morpeth, Furness, Fountains, Kirkstall, Kirstead, Swineshead, Sawley and Calder. Pegolotti's interest in England and Scotland is chiefly connected with the wool trade.

There is only one MS. of the Pratica, viz. No. 2441 in the Riccardian Library at Florence (241 fols., occupying the whole volume), written in 1471; and one edition of the text, in vol. iii. of Gian Francesco Pagnini's Della Decima e delle altre gravezze imposte dal commune di Firenze (Lisbon and Lucca - really Florence-1766); Sir Henry Yule, Cathay, ii. 279-308, translated into English the most interesting sections of Pegolotti, with valuable commentary (London, Hakluyt Society, 1866). See also W. Heyd, Commerce du Levant, ii., 12, 50, 58, 78-79, 85-86, 112-119 (Leipzig, 1886); H. Kiepert, in Sitzungsberichte der philos.-hist. Cl. der berliner Akad., p. 901, &c. (Berlin, 1881); C. R. Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, iii. 3 2 4-33 2, 55 o, 555 (Oxford, 1906).

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