Istituzioni e potere: Il rapporto fra i mercanti stranieri residenti e i Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia a Venezia nel Cinquecento e Seicento

Institutions and Power: The Relationship between Levantine Merchants and the Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia in Venice in the 16th and 17th centuries

  • Tamsin Prideaux University of Edinburgh
Keywords: Immigrant merchants, Venice, Negotiation, Migration, Mercanti stranieri, Venezia, Negoziazione, Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia


This article demonstrates how foreign merchants negotiated with the authorities in Venice, in particular the magistracy dedicated to mercantile affairs – the Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia. Due to their economic status, foreign merchants manipulated Venice’s bureaucratic structures in order to negotiate political and economic power. This article reveals that instead of being transformed by Venetian legal systems, the immigrant merchants themselves succeeded in transforming judicial administration within the heart of Venice’s corporate government.

Quest’articolo mostra come i mercanti stranieri negoziavano con le autorità a Venezia, soprattutto la magistratura che si occupò dei mercanti – i Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia. Grazie alla loro preponderanza economica, i mercanti stranieri manipolavano le strutture burocratiche per negoziare il potere politico ed economico. Quest’articolo rivela che piuttosto che essere trasformati dai sistemi normativi veneziani, i mercanti stranieri stessi riuscirono a trasformare l'amministrazione della giustizia proprio nel cuore del governo corporativo di Venezia.

Author Biography

Tamsin Prideaux, University of Edinburgh

Tamsin Prideaux is a historian of early modern mobility, migration, and minorities. She received her PhD in November 2022 from the University of Edinburgh. Her PhD thesis, funded by the AHRC, focused on political negotiation between Levantine immigrant merchants and government bodies in Venice from 1540-1700. From March 2022-August 2022 she completed a Saltire emerging researcher award at the University of Ca’ Foscari for the research project “Migrant Lives and Urban Space: foreigners in early modern Venice”. She is currently a research associate at the University of Glasgow for the UKRI project “Art and Inequality in the Post-Black Death Century”, headed by Prof. Samuel Cohn.

RiMe 13/I n.s. (December 2023)