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Historical Society | The Merchant of Prato
2 September 2015 @ 7:30 pm£3
Want to know what made Northleach the beautiful and historic place it is? Come along to the Historical Society at 7:30pm on Wednesday 2 September to hear Dr Alan Ford on a subject which lies at the very heart of our history – the once thriving medieval wool trade between the Cotswolds and Italy.
Historical Society talks are open to all comers for an entrance fee of just £3 (members free), and many in the area may well find Dr Ford’s account an eye-opener. For there was a time when Northleach’s sheep produced the finest wool in the world, and Italian merchants – who called Northleach “Norleccio” – beat a path to our door, with the market place ringing to the sound of Italian voices.
Northleach’s church still has magnificent brasses commemorating the wealthy local merchants who built some of the town’s historic houses and who in the 1400s transformed the church itself into the splendid building we still have today.
Dr Ford will focus on the wool merchants’ links with Italy, and in particular on the Merchant of Prato, Francesco Datini. Datini and his wife Margherita survived papal politics and the Black Death to make a fortune in the wool trade, and left behind letters, archives and account books which were found almost intact at their palazzo at Prato in Tuscany in 1870. This proved to be a treasure trove of over 150,000 documents offering insights not only into their marriage and business but also into the Datini link to the Cotswolds. Datini, who died in 1410, is buried at the church of San Francesco in Prato. His life and times were memorably brought to life by Iris Origo in her 1957 classic, The Merchant of Prato.
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