Commercial Agreements And Social Dynamics In Medieval Genoa

That`s why I`m opening up with the Werdest Data Scientist to a whole series of Digital Humanities positions that should have a much smaller number of candidates. In addition, there are many exciting DH projects ranging from training machines to transcribing medieval Latin documents to creating virtual city maps with layers for centuries, from mapping advanced correspondence networks to reconstructing ancient business models with archaeological data. In hindsight, the whole project was a huge risk on my part. When I followed this path, I had no idea what data I could extract from pisa`s notarized records, I had no working knowledge of social media analysis, let alone any guarantee that years of effort would actually lead to significant results. From there, the best practical guide I found was in Borgatti, Everett, and Johnsons Analyzing Social Networks (SAGE, 2013), with occasional companion documents from the resources page of the Historical Network research site. Thanks to a fortuitous introduction to Prof. Enrica Salvatori of the Università di Pisa during the following semester, I was informed of a large amount of commercial recordings housed in the Archivio di Stato di Pisa and which had most often been ignored by scholars. Several scholarships and research trips to Tuscany later and I had collected nearly 3,000 notarized folio records from Pisa and Florence from the second half of the thirteenth century. I hoped that I could use these documents to unravel the mystery of Pisa`s decline from a pandemic commercial and military power plant, too little more than a small regional power by the end of the century. In van Doosselaere`s monograph, he studied the history of the Treaties of Commenda (distance agreements) over a period of nearly three centuries. Using social network analyses for a corpus of about 20,000 notarized records, van Doosselaere was able to show that the development of equity, credit and insurance instruments (building blocks of capitalism) in Genoa was not due to strategic actions of traders, but rather to unconscious reactions to the changing structure of Genoese society itself. Already armed with an interest in business from my bachelor`s degree in economics, I was immediately excited by van Doosselaere`s work.

By combining traditional historiographical approaches and analyses of statistical and social networks, I was able to illustrate that the city of Pisa during the last two decades of the 13th Century suffered from a persistent economic depression hitherto unknown. . . .


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