Social Hierarches Associated with Food During the Middle Ages
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Chapter 3 Social Hierarchies within Cuisine
Section One (Economy – Agriculture) 4 pgs
The economy during the sixteenth century in Tuscany blossomed as a result of the thriving trade industry. The trade industry allowed people to experience the best of both the native Tuscan ingredients and the exciting foreign products. The natural Tuscan landscape allowed the farmers and peasants to cultivate their main ingredients: bread, olives, olive oil, and grapes. Growing all the key crops, which were necessary to survive, allowed the merchants free range to trade their products at a higher cost. In exchange, the merchants would trade up, and increase their status by receiving products from mysterious foreign lands.
Depression or Prosperity in Renaissance Italy?
Many historians have debated about whether the European Renaissance created a sense of economic depression or prosperous revival. By examining the progressive movements that occurred within the culinary world, the argument would correspond with a general progressive movement in Tuscany. Within the fifteenth century, Tuscany experienced an economic stability that existed well throughout the sixteenth century.
Benedetto Dei, a fifteenth century Florentine poet and historian, hinted at the excitement involving the Tuscan economy at the turn of the fifteenth century.
“Florence is more beautiful and five hundred and forty years older then your noble Venice. We spring from triply noble blood. We are one third Roman, one-third Frankish, and one third Fiesolan …. We have round about us thirty thousand estates, owned by noblemen and merchants, citizens and craftsmen, yielding us yearly bread and meat, wine and oil, vegetables and cheese, hay and wood, to the value of nine hundred thousand ducats in cash, as you Venetians, Genoese, Chians, and Rhodians who come to buy them well know enough. We have two trades greater than any four of yours in Venice put together – the trades of wool and silk.”