|Work and Wages in Early Modern Italy|
|This paper aims to analyze the evolution of labour ideologies in the early modern Italy. I will focus mainly on two aspect: the use and value of terms as “work” and “worker” and the debates around the “just wage”.
I will reach this gain through two ways. On the one hand, starting from a range of texts which referred on labour, I will check a comparative analysis of these books. On the other hand I will improve the analysis using unpublished documents, particularly guilds memorials and trials infra and intra guilds. This paper will try then to compare the two typologies of source looking for a deeper understanding of labour ideologies in early modern Italy.
Referring to the first point (the analysis of texts) the Renaissance and early modern Italy maintain a great amount of texts that deals on labour ideologies. Firstly there are the “Ricordanze” (familiar and merchant book) and the treated of “Mercatura” which describe the world of labour, worker and crafts in early modern cities.
Certainly the most important source is the book of Tommaso Garzoni (La piazza universale di tutte le professioni del mondo, 1596), edited at the end of 16th century. This book gives a very detailed distinction about crafts and professions and offer us a first occupational ranking.
The debate around the “just wages” is another important topic, thanks to the influence of both catholic religion and roman and canonic law. In this sense the most important book are edited between the end of 16th and the half of 17th century. The two books of the canonic lawyer Lanfranco Zacchia (De salario seu operariorum mercede, 1658 and the Centuria decisionum ad materiam tractatus de salario, et operarium mercede, 1659) are the first attempt to conceptualize the idea of “just wage”. We will compare the book of Zacchia with the previous philosophers or lawyers who talk about the just wage, as Benvenuto Stracca (Tractatus de mercatura seu mercatore, 1556), Giacomo Menochio (De arbitrariis iudicum quaestionibus et causis, 1590) and Giovanni Battista de Luca (Il dottor volgare, 1670), following the catholic tradition of S. Agostino and its “Summa theologica”.
This prescriptions will be compared and integrated by two other typologies of sources, using existing literature and archival documents: the “memorials” of guilds and especially the depositions of witnesses during the infra and intra guild trials and conflicts.
The analysis of this material allow us to understand how the workers represent their profession inside the city; their position inside the guild hierarchies and inside the labour relations; their thought about the just wage.
Referring to the first point (the representation of workers) the terms used were different, following the guild hierarchies (master, apprentices, labourers), the forms of wages (“operario”-“worker”, “salariato”- “wage earner”, “mercenario”-“mercenary”) or the labour relation (debtors or creditors). It will be so very interesting to understand when, how, and why the term “work” (“lavoro”) and “worker” (“lavoratore”) were used. The same value of the profession varied by cities and cities following the economic and social role for the society and the urban environment. Finally, the trials will be an useful tool to understand how the “just wage” was claimed and valued, following the different norms.
The comparative analysis between texts and trials allow us to understand similarities and differences existing between the representations given both by elites and workers, in order to better understand the conceptual framework and the labour ideologies in the early modern Italy.