Transnational Firms and Cooperation Patterns in the Mediterranean: two Catalan-Aragonese Firms in the Fifteenth Century

  • Sandra de-la-Torre-Gonzalo Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea
  • María Viu Fandos Proyecto FENIX - Universitat de Barcelona
Keywords: Corporate Governance, Corporate Identity, Risk and Uncertainty, Economic History, Principal-agent Problem, Gestión empresarial, Identidad corporativa, Riesgo e incertidumbre, Historia Económica, Problema agente-principal


This paper presents a methodological approach to the study of the increasingly efficient commercial and banking firms in late medieval Europe, based on the structural analysis of two major Mediterranean firms that operated from Zaragoza and Barcelona in the first half of the fifteenth century. The analysis of the cooperative mechanisms deployed by the socio-economic elite of the Crown of Aragon is brought to the foreground with special emphasis on human capital strategies, such as those reflected in the recruitment of commercial agents. We discuss a number of examples drawn from notarial records, account books and commercial correspondence in order to bring to light not only commercial relationships but also kinship and friendship ties.

Este trabajo propone una aproximación metodológica para el estudio de las empresas mercantiles bajomedievales basada en el análisis estructural de dos grandes empresas que operaron entre Zaragoza y Barcelona en la primera mitad del siglo XV. A partir del análisis de los mecanismos cooperativos implementados por esta elite socio-económica de la Corona de Aragón, se pone el énfasis en las estrategias relacionadas con el capital humano, especialmente en el reclutamiento de agentes comerciales. Las fuentes notariales, libros de cuentas y correspondencia comercial permiten sacar a la luz relaciones comerciales pero también afinidades y amistades.

Author Biographies

Sandra de-la-Torre-Gonzalo, Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

Sandra de la Torre Gonzalo holds a BA in History of Art (2006) and in History (2009), and the Extraordinary Doctoral Award (2017) by the Universidad de Zaragoza with the Ph.D. dissertation ‘La elite mercantil y financiera de Zaragoza en el primer tercio del siglo XV (1380-1430)’, supervised by Carlos Laliena. As a postdoctoral researcher at the UPV/EHU, she is part of the research group Sociedad, poder y cultura (siglos XIV-XVIII), led by J. Ramón Díaz de Durana. Her research interests have derived to spatial analysis, highlighting the role of merchant networks in the integration of inland markets in the Iberian Peninsula, connecting the Atlantic and the Mediterranean trade before the First Global Age.

María Viu Fandos, Proyecto FENIX - Universitat de Barcelona

María Viu Fandos holds a BA in History (Universidad de Zaragoza, 2013) and a Master's degree in Culturas Medievales (Universitat de Barcelona, 2015). Her PhD dissertation on the Torralba-Manariello commercial company (Barcelona-Zaragoza, 1430-1437) was supervised by Carlos Laliena (2019). She collaborates with the research group CEMA (Universidad de Zaragoza) since 2014, and since 2018 is member of the project FÉNIX (Recercaixa 2017 ACUP0195) led by María Dolores López (Universitat de Barcelona). Her research interests are focused on business history, especially on economic networks, mercantile societies and the development of commercial techniques as accounting and information systems in the late medieval Crown of Aragon.