Artisans and consumption in sixteenth-century Verona
During the sixteenth century, Verona was a thriving centre with a large population, under Venetian rule in the terraferma. Positioned on the Adige river and controlling the entrance to the Brenner pass, Verona’s advantageous geographical location meant that it acted as an intermediary for trade across Italy and Southern Europe. However, the city has been assigned scant attention from historians of the Renaissance in Italy. Whilst the Renaissance has long been recognised as a transformative movement in Italian and European history, research into its culture has often focused on the exceptionalism of the major centres of Venice, Florence and Rome. Moreover, although there has been some attempt to recover the quotidian from the history of the Renaissance, little is still known about groups lower down the social scale. This is particularly the case when it comes to the non elites in more provincial areas. This thesis, by contrast, uncovers information about the everyday lives of ordinary working people in the Renaissance, by drawing on a range of sources, from notarial, court and trade records, to guild and demographic documentation. The experience of Veronese artisans is placed in a variety of urban contexts, for example, within the different trades, guild structures and patterns of sociability. There is also an exploration of the importance of Verona’s geographical position for trade and cultural exchange, drawing on sources from locations along Verona’s trade route into Germany. Significantly, this thesis pays particular attention to the role of artisans as consumers of Renaissance products, exploring both the material culture of the home and the workshop. Within this framework, it is demonstrated that artisans within Verona were able to interact with the material culture of the Renaissance in a number of different ways. They networked with individuals across the social scale, at the same time as playing a crucial role in both the production and the consumption of the material products of Renaissance consumerism. Artisans should therefore be central to discussions of the culture of the Renaissance.