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The Peruzzi
Peruzzi
were bankers of Florence, among the leading families of the city in the 14th century, before the rise to prominence of the Medici. Their modest antecedents stretched back to the mid 11th century, according to the family's genealogist Luigi Passerini, but a restructuring of the Peruzzii company in 1300, with an infusion of outside capital, marked the start of a quarter-century of prosperity that brought the family consortium to the forefront of Florentine affairs. Semi-public patronage reaffirmed the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
status in Florence: in his will in 1299, Donato di Arnoldo Peruzzi
Peruzzi
left money for a memorial chapel in a transept of the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence. It was probably his grandson Giovanni di Rinieri Peruzzi
Peruzzi
who was Giotto's patron in frescoing the walls with murals honoring John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, which Giotto executed, starting in 1313. For economic historians, the surviving account books of the Peruzzi from the years 1335–1343 provide an indispensable primary source for the economic history of the city on the cusp of the late Medieval and Early Modern period. The contemporary chronicler Giovanni Villani
Giovanni Villani
is the other prime source for the family's affairs. The company that bore the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
name was run by a half-dozen family members, and there were many Peruzzi
Peruzzi
who were neither active nor silent partners, pursuing other careers, even amassing independent capital. The company's courier system acted as an intelligence-gathering system often embroiled in diplomacy. The size of the bank should not be understated: by the 1330s, the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
bank was the second largest in Europe, with fifteen branches from the Middle East to London, all capitalized to the sum of more than 100,000 gold florins and manned by approximately 100 factors.[1] Peruzzi
Peruzzi
capital had been amassed in the textile business that was the main engine of Florence's prosperity. English wool finished as high-quality cloth in Bruges
Bruges
was bought by Peruzzi
Peruzzi
fattori and distributed to the luxurious courts of Paris, Avignon
Avignon
or Naples, or returned to London. Peruzzi
Peruzzi
connections with the Knights Hospitallers gained them important local leverage in Rhodes, the economic capital of the Aegean and a transshipping port for silks, drugs, spices and luxuries from the East. Trade beyond Italy required agents and instruments of credit, extending the family business beyond its extended membership into an international network. In Italy was developed the double-entry bookkeeping that made such complicated financial transactions possible. By the opening of the 14th century, the main activity of the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
had switched to wholesale commodities trading on a very large scale, especially in grain exported from the Angevine Kingdom of Naples
Naples
to the central Italian cities—for which they were granted a monopoly— and to banking, the field for which they are remembered: popes, nobles, bourgeois, towns and abbeys drew loans from the Peruzzi. But great clients incurred great risks. In 1343 the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
consortium collapsed and was bankrupt in 1345, with their partners in risk-capital, the Bardi. The traditional explanation, of unsecured loans extended to Edward III of England, is currently considered simplistic. In fact, several factors destabilized the network of trade. The war with Castruccio Castracane of Lucca
Lucca
bled Florentine specie to pay for mercenaries, while France and England went to war over Aquitaine, and the peasants of Flanders
Flanders
rose up in a revolt that was put down with the aid of mercenaries purchased with Peruzzi
Peruzzi
florins. Not all of the family fortunes were lost in the bankruptcy, and the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
continued to figure among the prominent families of Florence, the patrizii di Firenze. Even as late as 1849, in the wake of the disturbances of 1848, the gonfaloniere of Florence
Florence
was Ubaldino Peruzzi.[2] The tower of the fortified Villa Peruzzi
Peruzzi
in the commune of Antella south of Florence
Florence
controls the main road into the Chianti
Chianti
district. Members of the family who emigrated to America in the late 19th century and settled in Pennsylvania founded the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
chain of automobile dealerships and the Planters
Planters
Nut and Chocolate Company. References[edit]

^ pg 3 of De Roover 1966 ^ Giuseppe Conti, Firenze Vecchia

De Roover, Raymond Adrien (1963, rev. ed. 1966), The rise and decline of the Medici
Medici
Bank: 1397-1494, New York City; Toronto: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.; George J. McLeod Limited  Check date values in: date= (help)

External links[edit]

Scenes from the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
Chapel frescoes Ephraim Russell, "The societies of the Bardi and the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
and their dealings with Edward III, 1327–45"

Further reading[edit]

Hunt, Edwin S. (1994). The Medieval Super-Companies: A Study of the Peruzzi
Peruzzi
Company of Florence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-89415-8.  (Review)

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Banking families

Europe

Abravanel Bardi Benveniste Berenberg Bethmann Bischoffsheim Borgia Camondo Cerchi Chigi Etcheverría Ephrussi Fould Fugger Goldman–Sachs Goldschmidt Gondi Gossler (Berenberg-Gossler) Hambro Hochstetter Hottinguer Imhoff Königswarter Kronenberg Medici Mendelssohn Metzler Oppenheim Pazzi Pictet Pierleoni Péreire Peruzzi Rothschild Schröder Seyler Solaro Sozzini Speyer Stern Thurzó Wallenberg Warburg Welser Van Lanschot

United States

Barney Drexel Goldman–Sachs Lazard Lehman Mellon Morgan Rockefeller Seligman Warburg

United Kingdom

Baring Child Clifford Goldsmid Hope Mocatta Rothschild Sassoon Smith

Japan

Mitsui Sumitomo Yasuda

Middl

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