Trust among Merchants circa 1400: A Research Note
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
In 1400 the plague reappeared in northern Italy. During the epidemic, Bino Piaciti sent Francesco di Marco Datini a distressing letter from Venice about a Florentine colleague, Piero Benedetto: Ser Piero became very ill with the pestilence late Monday evening [27 September 1400] and on the 30th a rumor spread from envy that he was dead and that he had wished to petition other banks [to honour his accounts] . . . . I heard that many artisans and other Venetians, fearing for their assets, rushed to his bank to be paid. It is said that they came in such great numbers, and with their emotions running so high, that the bank staff saw they could not conduct orderly business under such conditions. Rumours of Ser Piero’s death led his customers to a full-fledged run on the bank. At its managers’ request, the banking regulators of the Venetian government, the Mercanzia, intervened by taking possession of the Benedetto Bank’s books, and Piero’s family sought to calm panicked depositors by guaranteeing the bank’s solvency.
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