Medici Money: Banking, metaphysics and art in fifteenth-century Florence Paperback – 6 April 2006
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An erudite and profound examination of the Renaissance banking family. (BBC History Magazine)
The fabulous banking boys...fascinating and intricate. (The Guardian)
Tim Parks proves a delightful guide to both the Florentine Renaissance and the family history of one of Europe's greatest dynasties. In Medici Money he wears his considerable learning with refreshing lightness, giving us a wise and witty meditation on money, art and power, Renaissance-style (Ross King - author of Brunelleschi’s Dome)
Parks brings a novelist's flair to his task and comes out as a hip and snappy narrator. (Independent on Sunday)
A straightforward, readable, interesting and witty account of the rise and fall of one of the world's first banks ... A fasinating tale. (Glasgow Evening Times)
Successfully captures the spirit of the age and brings alive the characters of Cosimo and Lorenzo, two men whose story remains as fascinating now as it was to their comtemporary friends and enemies. (Tony Barber Financial Times)
Tim Parks retells the story with a hugely readable breadth and insight. (Mark Archer Spectator)
Straight-forward, readable, interesting and witty account of the rise and fall of one of the world's first banks ... A fascinating tale. (Birmingham Post)
Highlights the excesses and successes of the Florentine Renaissance and charts the glittering ascendancy of one entrepreneurial family against the backdrop of a unique Italian bank. (Good Book Guide)
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Bankers in the 21st century have a well deserved bad press but this book is a fascinating account of how in the 1400s the Medici built their fortune on banking and as patrons of the arts. Highly recommended.
Top international reviews
"But the tools of persuasion that make such things (influencing public opinion) possible today-our modern media, mass production, and mass consumption-were not available to the Medici. Nor had anybody thought of the trick of allowing two apparently opposing, but secretly complicitous factions to rotate in power at the whim of a complacently 'enfranchised' population."
All in all, a thoroughly intelligent and enjoyable book.
By the way, Parks is a respected literary scholar who has written several books of literary criticism and two screamingly funny books about living in Italy: Italian Neighbors and A Season with Verona: Travels Around Italy in Search of Illusion, National Character, and...Goals! Highly recommended.
Lorenzo. To any lover of renaissance history, I heartily recommend this book!
It recalls also the story of some american tycoons families. A generation built, the next manage, and finaly one squanders everything.
Maybe the world has changed but human beings have barely changed.
If you think modern financing tools of using exchange of goods instead of direct lending is an invention of modern day middle eastern theologians, think again. Back in the 1400's in Italy, the lending of money with interest was banned by the catholic church. However, just like our modern capitalistic world, back then, merchants wanted to borrow and bankers wanted to be compensated for this risk. Motivation is important. if the motivation is the exchange of goods for a profit and not the lending for interest, then it is not usury. This is a big if. Most of the time, it is clear that what the merchant wants is a loan in cash and is willing to pay interest on it.
In regards to fixed deposits with interest, the practice was prohibited by the church for it is usury. This was mitigated by Medici Bank's invention of discretionary deposit account. In this case, the client would deposit the money at the bank, but without contractual obligation for the bank to pay interest. The return, or profit, would then be given as a "gift" at the bank's discretion, hence the term discretionary account. "If the bank failed to produce the gift...the customer took his cash elsewhere."
Again, all this happened in 15th century in Europe--six-hundred years ago!
The text rambles and drifts; sentence fragments predominate; the constant use of the present tense in annoying when it appears in writing about people and events from five or six hundred years ago.
Whole sections of the book seem to have been adapted almost verbatim from Raymond de Roover"s "The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank." This would be excusable (barely) if the author had bothered to cite his sources within the text, but he virtually never does.
When Parks writes about the Medici family, he's equally close-mouthed about his sources. Who said Lorenzo de' Medici's last mistress was "portly?" Who reported that Lorenzo's father slept on "silk sheets?" These are just a couple curious little details from among the many un-sourced statements that fill this book.
Not worth reading-- I'm sorry I wasted my money on it.