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Monna Lappa, Coluccio e Luchino di Puccio. Back to the Middle Ages: Historical Myths, Technical Secrets and the Industrial Take-Off of Italy

Dates:
  • Wed 28 Feb 2018 15.00 - 16.30
  Add to Calendar 2018-02-28 15:00 2018-02-28 16:30 Europe/Paris Monna Lappa, Coluccio e Luchino di Puccio. Back to the Middle Ages: Historical Myths, Technical Secrets and the Industrial Take-Off of Italy

Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, chose the early fourteenth-century diaspora of silk merchants and artisans from Lucca to Venice as the best historical example for the establishment of a luxury industry in a new environment. Indeed, the forced migration of hundreds of Lucchese families for political reasons in 1314 and their relocation to other cities determined the diffusion of the silk craft in Italy, laying the foundation of what became the most important Italian manufacturing activity in the following five centuries. The paper presents the first results of an on-going research aimed at retracing the steps of this group of migrant technicians and businessmen to Bologna, where they brought and perfected the silk throwing mill, the main Italian mechanical innovation before the industrial revolution and one of the key elements for the success of the peninsula’s silk fabrics in global markets. A historical myth has been created around the presumed inventor of this machine, which became the hallmark and a common patrimony of the city of Bologna for centuries. New documentation provides the basis for a reassessment of the story and suggests several considerations on the diffusion of technical secrets, the circulation of knowledge and competition among diaspora groups in the early stages of the industrial take-off of Italy. By showing the backstage of this research, based largely on contingency, serendipity and unexpected helps, I will also reflect upon the pretended ‘scientificity’ of some of our scholarly enterprises.

Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati

Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, chose the early fourteenth-century diaspora of silk merchants and artisans from Lucca to Venice as the best historical example for the establishment of a luxury industry in a new environment. Indeed, the forced migration of hundreds of Lucchese families for political reasons in 1314 and their relocation to other cities determined the diffusion of the silk craft in Italy, laying the foundation of what became the most important Italian manufacturing activity in the following five centuries. The paper presents the first results of an on-going research aimed at retracing the steps of this group of migrant technicians and businessmen to Bologna, where they brought and perfected the silk throwing mill, the main Italian mechanical innovation before the industrial revolution and one of the key elements for the success of the peninsula’s silk fabrics in global markets. A historical myth has been created around the presumed inventor of this machine, which became the hallmark and a common patrimony of the city of Bologna for centuries. New documentation provides the basis for a reassessment of the story and suggests several considerations on the diffusion of technical secrets, the circulation of knowledge and competition among diaspora groups in the early stages of the industrial take-off of Italy. By showing the backstage of this research, based largely on contingency, serendipity and unexpected helps, I will also reflect upon the pretended ‘scientificity’ of some of our scholarly enterprises.


Location:
Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Lecture

Organiser:
Prof. Luca Molà (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Corinna Ruth Unger

Speaker:
Prof. Luca Molà (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

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