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Household economies in late medieval and early modern Italy

Social relations, marriage and godparenthood

Belonging to the mercers’ guild elite in 16th-century Venice
Emilie Fiorucci
p. 103-118

Résumé

This study investigates two key economic structures of pre-modern societies, family and the guilds, in 16th-century Venice. More specifically, I explore the origin and consolidation of the mercers’ guild elite through various forms of kinship, focusing on the case of two parishes in the centre of Venice: San Zulian and San Salvador. In order to do this, I will reconstruct matrimonial ties and other forms of spiritual parenthood – such as the choice of godparents and wedding witnesses – while assessing their influence on the governance of the guild. Two other fundamental aspects will also be highlighted, namely the role of charitable institutions in both the process of integration into the guild and the evolution of family structure.

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Notes de l’auteur

I would like to thank Sara Olivieri for her support. Translation by Clelia Boscolo.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Above the link between family and economy in Europe, see Cavaciocchi 2009. On family definition pro (...)
  • 2 For a presentation about Venetian guilds, see: Costantini 1987; MacKenney 1987, MacKenney 1997; Cro (...)
  • 3 MacKenney 1987, 2019; Cecchini 2017.
  • 4 Cerutti 2012.

1This paper will discuss the complex interplay of familial and professional relations among the members of the guild of mercers in late sixteenth-century Venice.1 In the sixteenth century, the mercers’ guild was peculiar insofar as it brought together several professions (e.g., mirror makers, hat makers and perfumes makers).2 The main membership of this guild, however, was represented by mercers in the strict sense of the term: they were sellers of luxury goods (fabrics, silk, feathers, glass, pigments, beaver furs), often with well-established international trading networks, and they represented the elite of the organisation.3 Many of these mercers were newcomers and, despite their recent arrival in the city, had access to local resources (work, social network, residence).4

  • 5 Alfani 2006b, p. 58.
  • 6 Alfani – Gourdon 2012.
  • 7 Lorenzini 2005.
  • 8 Here I adopt the definition of family provided by historians of network analysis and mesosociologis (...)

2In order to analyse both the horizontal linkages and professional relations between guild members – and therefore, more broadly, the intensity of social networking among them – I shall focus my attention on the people who played a key role during two of the most important sacraments in the life of a person: the godfathers and wedding witnesses chosen by families belonging to the guild to celebrate such sacred moments in family life as baptisms and marriages. The social and spiritual function of godparents clearly differed from that of wedding witnesses: in fact, while the role of a godfather had a highly symbolic and tangible meaning, the wedding witnesses had a merely formal one, but of some importance too, since their presence validated the marriage rite. Irrespective of these differences in functions, Guido Alfani indicates that there was a certain degree of coherence between these types of relationship.5 The choice of both wedding witnesses and godparents fell under specific social strategies, both individual and collective. Consequently, I believe that factoring in the people present at these two sacraments allows us to analyse the actors’ networks and relational mobility, or at least those indicators underlying these strategies. Previous studies on baptisms and wedding witnesses have seldom taken into account the social dimension (e.g., multiple corporate membership, membership of confraternities, socio-professional contexts, membership of the same parish). As Guido Alfani and Vincent Gourdon have pointed out, in the early modern period the choice of godfathers was a tool employed by families to expand and reshape their social networks.6 As far as early modern wedding witnesses are concerned, however, there is very little research and the criteria according to which they were chosen remain unclear.7 I argue that a prosopography of the wedding witnesses appointed by members of the mercers’ guild in late sixteenth-century Venice provides a tool to understand the level of integration of families both within the guild and within the city, because far from being casual, the choice of godparents was dictated by strategies aimed at consolidating and improving one’s social position within the guild and in Venetian society at large.8

  • 9 Canepari 2017, p. 100-101.
  • 10 Bruni 1984; id. 1985, p. 75-82; Bellavitis 2001, p. 243 and p. 258-268. San Zulian and its populati (...)
  • 11 Mueller 1999.
  • 12 Even tough San Zulian was the place for collective representation of the guild and was accessible t (...)
  • 13 In their last wills and testaments, it seems that few mercers thought about their spiritual kin (co (...)

3My aim is to show to what extent bonds of solidarity, family ties and even spiritual kinship had an impact on the career of a member of the mercers’ guild. More broadly, this study intends to explore how certain social strategies, which are part of a well-defined space, enabled the guild’s elite to maintain their power and resources over time.9 Our attention will be focused on the data concerning the two parishes of San Salvador and San Zulian.10 These two administrative districts are crossed by the Mercerie street, which connects the political space (San Marco square) and the economic space of Rialto. Research on foreigners and citizenship in Venice has shown that these two central parishes were both the main place of work and residence of mercers, which differs somewhat from the analyses of other professions.11 The church of San Zulian was the seat of the guild and the place where devotional practices took place, while the eponymous district was the place preferred for their commercial activity. In this urban context, the mercers seem to have been key figures who left an indelible mark as artistic patrons in the churches of these two parishes, imposing their own cultural and pious choices.12 Unsurprisingly, the confraternity of San Teodoro stands next to the parish church of San Salvador. The chronological focus is the second half of the sixteenth century. Yet, in order to investigate the process of family integration both within their guild of affiliation and Venetian society, I have extended my study to include the first half of the seventeenth century. The sources on which this research is based are heterogeneous: parish sources, documents originating from the guild archives, registers of confraternities and notarial deeds.13 The following remarks are the result of an ongoing research: their aim is, therefore, not to provide a definitive assessment of the subject, but rather to offer some food for thought and to raise some questions.

Who were the mercers?

4According to the ancient statute dating back to 1271, mercers could sell any type of item in silk and gold thread, buttons, plates, fabrics, pearls, enamelled or openwork metal objects, sacred vestments, crosses and banners. Much later, Tommaso Garzoni, in his famous treatise devoted to trades and jobs, seems to associate them with the generic and somewhat frowned upon category of “retailers”: unlike merchants, who managed much more important batches of goods, the mercers would essentially be in charge of daily supplies to the city.

  • 14 Tucci 1973.
  • 15 Above the socio-economic success of some mercers in Venice, see Corazzol 1994; Mason 2008; Cecchini (...)

5Studies have shown that, in actual fact, mercers were much more than just retail traders:14 Bontempelli, Cargnoni, Tasca, Bergonzi and Cornovi della Vecchia all belonged to the category we might define as “middle merchants”.15 The term does not refer to a classification of merchants in an economic hierarchy linked, for example, to the origin of their goods or the nature of their clientele. By “middle merchants” we mean a group of individuals who are in the “middle”: intermediaries between the elites and the people, the “middling sorts”. In fact, these individuals belonged neither to the patriciate nor to the elite of original citizens, members of the bureaucracy. They were not so poor as to leave nothing to their descendants, but they did not live off their income, either. They were a heterogeneous, intermediate group that was part of the people, alongside the artisans, and in some ways this group is a showcase of the multiple hierarchies and identities of the Venetians. With the sale of nobility titles, which began in the seventeenth century, the mercers took advantage of this opportunity to access the patriciate; they would have had the means to do it sooner, but only in the seventeenth century did access to the patriciate become possible. In the sixteenth century, our sampled individuals were therefore “stuck” in their social mobility. If they were immigrants, they could access citizenship by privilege, and this allowed them to have commercial rights equal to those enjoyed by native Venetians.

  • 16 The mercer Battista Cucchi breaks all records by displaying more than five different trade names.

6During the sixteenth century, the guild incorporated a huge number of trades which could not aspire to an independent statute, due to their small membership or limited economic power (e.g., comb makers, needleworkers, belt makers, feather makers, cap makers, milliners, bag makers, etc.). In this sense, a mercers’ guild is a structure that, at least until the eighteenth century, constantly tried to absorb an ever-increasing number of minor crafts. Transformed into a sort of federative corporation, the mercers gradually ended up representing not only Venice’s retail trade, characterised as it was by an increasing opening up to the East; they became the craft identified as the “promoter of luxury products”. In the last decades of the sixteenth century, we can even speak of a real policy of forced incorporation operated by the mercers: to incorporate as many trades as possible. On the one hand, to “make money”, i.e. to ensure the admission fees and yearly taxes of an ever-increasing number of members; on the other hand, to establish a kind of monopoly on almost every commercial sector. And it was precisely the “middle merchants” who shaped the destiny of the corporation. The individuals who ran the guild of mercers were often members of other trades. Their names were associated with multiple activities and preceded by the title magnificent.16 Historians have often wondered about titles, honorifics that qualified a person and which, at the same time, referred to a position in the social world, guaranteeing rights and privileges. Honorary titles appear in the guild’s sources, but also in notarial and parish registers, such as those recording baptisms, marriages and even deaths, showing that titles were used even outside the corporation. This particular title, therefore, did not only designate individuals who were at the head of the corporate institution as “grand guards”, but was also a sign of distinction, which recalled their specific position in Venetian society. However, as a general rule, the adjective magnificent was reserved for high-ranking citizens or nobles.

  • 17 On citizenship in Venice, see Zannini 1993; Mueller 1999; Grubb 2000; Bellavitis 2001.
  • 18 Canepari 2012; Rolla 2019.

7Many of them came from Bergamo and Lombardy and, in time, managed to gain the right to citizenship. Indeed, this allowed them to secure specific commercial rights and access to maritime trade with the Middle East.17 This elite had substantial economic capital and was represented in the guild’s administration. But how did these new men manage to gain control of the corporation? Recent research on mobility may provide some answers, as being foreign was not a barrier to being fully integrated into the community. The work of Nicoletta Rolla and Eleonora Canepari has shown that active participation in the life of religious brotherhoods contributed to the integration of newcomers into the life of their adopted city.18

Guilds, confraternities and scuole grandi: the complementarity of institutional paths

  • 19 On the great confraternities in Venezia, the reference work remains Brian Pullan’s, Pullan 1982; se (...)
  • 20 Pullan 1982.
  • 21 Bellavitis 2001, p. 335-336; Matino 2015.
  • 22 In 1552, at the request of the mercer Sebastiano Boscolomi, the Council of Ten elevated the old sch (...)
  • 23 See annex 1.

8As in many other cities across Europe, Venetian society was characterised by a large number of confraternities which had a pivotal role in developing networks, alliances and rivalries as well. Many confraternities – called scuole – were active in the city.19 They were divided into two groups: the great confraternities (the scuole grandi), such as the confraternities of the Flagellants, whose members mainly originated from the aristocracy and the citizenry; and the small confraternities (the scuole piccole), which also admitted people from the lower classes.20 If we leave the corporate framework aside for a moment, it is clear that the elite of the mercers’ guild was well-regarded even outside the corporation: in particular through their role in the confraternities and especially in the most important devotional scuole grandi (great confraternities). The six flagellant confraternities of Venice were among the richest and most important charitable institutions in the city, and the law of 1438 reserved the offices in the great confraternities to original citizens or de intus et extra (inside and out) who had been members for at least twenty years.21 Consequently, the very evidence of a position held by an individual in those instances should theoretically indicate that he was a citizen. These Venetian institutions were places of socialisation, where professional ties could also be forged, and holding an office was both proof of a personal investment in the life of the community through charitable activities and assistance as well as a guarantee of recognition by the community. From this point of view, we can try to reconstruct the mercers’ cursus honorum in these various institutions, including the guild, the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento (confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament) of the church of San Zulian and the Scuola grande of San Teodoro located in San Salvador,22 of which they were part, considering their belonging to them as different facets of their social and symbolic capital. It seems that the individuals who made up the corporate hierarchy entered the small confraternities first, and in particular the confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and subsequently the great confraternities. In the guild of mercers, the most important positions were entrusted to people who enjoyed social recognition.23

9The sources reveal that not only would the members of the elite of the mercers’ guild often hold positions within the confraternities, but they also rose through the hierarchy of their administration. This rise often led to their election as head of the guild. Admittedly, confraternities (both small and great) favoured the introduction or integration of these individuals in the administration of the guilds. In fact, the rise of an individual within the administration of the guild often went hand in hand with the rise within his confraternity as well as with the acquisition of citizenship – all signs of a rapid social rise. In this sense, we can say that social networks established in confraternities had an impact on the appointment of the highest positions within the corporation.

  • 24 Sapienza 2018.
  • 25 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 179/1, San Rocco, Venturin della Vecchia is part of the administration between (...)
  • 26 While Bartolomeo Bontempelli assumed his last office in 1599 at the Scuola di San Rocco, in 1600 Gr (...)

10It should be mentioned that during the sixteenth century the church of San Zulian was renovated, and we cannot fail to notice that numerous mercers were involved in the decorative campaign of the Blessed Sacrament and that, among factory procurers, the same names also took part in the construction of the altar of the corporation.24 The role they played at that time must surely have affected their progress in the guild hierarchy. What can we say then about individuals whose presence in these pious institutions has not been recorded? It seems that practically all the individuals of whom we find no trace in these institutions were linked by collaborative relationships with other individuals who, on the contrary, were very present in the great confraternities, such as Mario da Monte, who worked for Venturin della Vecchia, who, in turn, held numerous positions in the confraternity of San Rocco.25 Bartolomeo Bontempelli does not appear in the list of the Confraternity of San Teodoro, while his collaborators Gioacchino del Calese and Sebastian Rubi sat in the assembly and when Bartolomeo Bontempelli disappeared from the registers of San Rocco, Grazioso Bontempelli, his brother, replaced him.26 It is very likely that these individuals deliberately chose not to join the same brotherhood in order to expand their networks and confirm their inclusion in the various circles of the city’s elites.

  • 27 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 78 no 133, 25 May 1567.
  • 28 Ibid., “Et perché son stato buon servitor di questo stato io raccomando al serenissimo principe Moc (...)

11Another element worth highlighting is the fact that several men holding office were either Venetians or recently naturalised citizens or, in other words, men who benefitted from tax privileges and had commercial interests with the Middle East. Although the guild was formally open to all, the highest positions within the guild were occupied by men born in Venice or naturalised citizens. It is worth noting that, chronologically speaking, acquiring citizenship by privilege often preceded being appointed to the office of gastald. In the case of Augustin Maldotto, a nobleman from Lodi, there is no trace of any application for citizenship; he described himself as a “Venetian merchant”. In 1567, Maldotto’s business appeared to take place between Antwerp and Lyon and he does not appear to have submitted a request for naturalisation.27 This mercer stands out from the others because Maldotto appears to have had a wide and socially high-ranking network of relations. In the codicil of his testament, Agostin Maldotto addressed Doge Alvise Mocenigo (1570-1577) directly: “And since I have been a good servant of this state, I recommend (I ask) the Most Serene Prince Mocenigo and those who will succeed him, not to allow anyone to oppress my children.”28

  • 29 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 1013, no 108, 13 October 1568. About Prezzato, see Bellavitis 2008, (...)
  • 30 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 645, no 126, 31 July 1576.
  • 31 Ibid., b. 195, no 572, 18 May 1570.
  • 32 Bellavitis 2001, p. 63.

12These mercers were entrepreneurs and shop owners, they had co-workers, a workforce in their shops, and spun yarn fabrics in their homes. Their economic reach was international, since a mercers’ guild was at the junction of multiple activities. Some of them operated in multiple sectors: Maldotto was a member of the silk guild, Marc Antonio Prezzato had invested in a cottonwool (bombaser) company,29 Battista Inverardi was a mercer, a feathermaker and a partner in a dye-works,30 while Giacomo Cinque Vie and his partner Bernardo Galucci traded between Milan, Venice and Cyprus.31 Some of them did not have citizenship rights, but other sources – in addition to the Senate registers, such as the archives of the Provveditori di Comune or the Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia (Five wise men of commerce) – may provide some information, while in some cases the very fact that they described themselves as “Venetian merchants” shows how they defined themselves, and that they were considered as such. Sometimes those eligible for citizenship even wrote in their application that they were “treated like Venetians” abroad.32

  • 33 Cella 2014.
  • 34 Mackenney 2019, p. 176. More generally, for a definition of each titular office in the mercers’ gui (...)
  • 35 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 89, no 7, Maldotto mentions Vincenzo de Anzoli as his compare. In hi (...)
  • 36 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 102, Marzeri, fol. 90r.

13Looking at the names of the representatives of the guilds, the offices do not appear to be monopolised by a few families, as happened in other guilds such as, for example, the guild of gondoliers or the guild of potters.33 Richard Mackenney insists that holding offices over a concentrated period of years was non-existent and holding the same office with some regularity was rare.34 Considering the information provided by the different sources and the history of the gastaldia of these important individuals, it seems that their descendants, associates, employees or friends were also progressively integrated into the administration of the corporation itself. This social credit was then transferred to those who collaborated with a workshop. The case of Bernardo Galucci, a collaborator of Giacomo Cinque Vie, great guard in 1565, who, in turn, became a great guard in 1587, is not an isolated example. The links between those who became gastalds were numerous: they were often business partners. This can be seen in the case of Agostin Maldotto: at his death, which took place on 24 October 1576, Agostin Maldotto, a mercer under the sign of the Three Moors and formerly gastald of the mercers’ guild in 1566, wrote his last will at the Three Moors residence of Vincenzo di Anzoli, his partner and also great guard of the guild in 1575.35 After his death, Oliviero della Vecchia, a partner of the Maldotto family, took over the workshop of the Three Moors and became, in turn, gastald in 1595.36 However, if we consider the names of the leaders of this guild over the years between 1565 and 1607, we can argue that the associates and commercial partners of the most important members of the guild were progressively integrated within the administration of the guild itself.

14What kind of relationships did the members of the mercers’ elite entertain among themselves? The study of wills and parish registers shows that these individuals were linked by matrimonial alliances: the mercer Zuan Maria Bianco was the brother-in-law of Marc Antonio Prezzato, while Battista Cucchi and Giacomo Morando both married a daughter of the Bergonzi family. But what were the considerations underlying the choice of a godparent or of a wedding witness? Did the acquisition of citizenship affect these choices? In order to answer these questions, I suggest we interpret the choices of godparents and wedding witnesses made by mercers in the light of their career advancement both within the guild and within the confraternity.

The networks

  • 37 Prodi 1989; Zarri 1996, p. 437-483; Lombardi 2001.
  • 38 As for the changing protocol through the various stages of a wedding in the Venetian wedding regist (...)

15The Council of Trent, with the approval of the Tametsi decree, imposed the model of a single godfather or that of a couple (unus et una), in response to the parental couple, whereas the sacrament of matrimony in facie ecclesiae required the presence of a priest and two witnesses. Furthermore, as for both births and marriages, the parish priest was required to keep appropriate registers.37 The registers of baptisms and marriages of the two parishes show some differences in the registration methods that will not be addressed here.38

  • 39 Alfani – Castagnetti – Gourdon 2009; for a more recent work, see Alfani – Gourdon 2012. To learn mo (...)
  • 40 Cella 2014.
  • 41 Lorenzini 2005.
  • 42 Beauvalet – Gourdon 1998.
  • 43 Gourdon 2005, 2008.
  • 44 Chauvard 2020.
  • 45 Alfani 2006b, 2013. For a later period and a different geographical place, see Violić-Koprivec – V (...)

16Contrary to a historiographical trend that has become established in Europe, parish registers in Venice have been the subject of only a few studies related to spiritual kinship39. Similarly, little research has been carried out on wedding witnesses in Venice.40 In fact, some of the individuals upon whom the validity of the sacrament depended, wedding witnesses, have been studied especially at a local level for the site of Pieve d’Invillino,41 while some studies have focused on witnesses to marriage contracts in Paris,42 as well as on those present at civil weddings in some European cities.43 Witnesses required to ascertain the premarital status of the future spouses have mostly been studied, too.44 Few works have brought together the study of godparents and wedding witnesses, emphasizing the importance of not focusing on a single type of social relationship, but of widening the perspective on more social events (marriages, wedding witnesses and godparenthood).45

  • 46 See fn. 15 in Lorenzini 2005, p. 124.
  • 47 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1; p. 85, 5 September 1574; p. 101, 30 July 1577; (...)
  • 48 Ibid.
  • 49 Chauvard 2009. For a quantitative study of births and godparenthood in the parish of San Zulian and (...)

17The first elements that emerge from the initial analysis of the birth and marriage registers for the two parishes of San Zulian and San Salvador are the following: in both parishes, the vast majority of wedding witnesses and godfathers, in fact almost the totality, were men. I have not found any mention of a single woman among wedding witnesses and, in his study of a wide chronological span devoted to nuptial behaviour, Claudio Lorenzini counted only one woman acting as a witness to a marriage.46 As far as godparents are concerned, between 1565 and 1585, I have found mention of four godmothers in San Zulian for 152 babies,47 and one in San Salvador for 116 births of children of mercers.48 In this profession, spiritual kinship has been found to have been described differently in these two parishes, even though the model of asymmetrical mono-godfathering prevailed at the expense of godmothers, as evidenced by the works of Jean Francois Chauvard.49

  • 50 Other research has highlighted Bontempelli’s presence as godfather in other parishes in Venice, to (...)
  • 51 Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, Parrocchia di San Salvador, Matrimoni, reg. 1, fol. 15v, 9 S (...)
  • 52 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 118, 10 March 1578.

18Wedding witnesses seem to have usually been members of the same corporation belonging to the same rank; godparents, by contrast, were members of the same corporation belonging to a higher rank. We can observe that even when individuals did not come alone to the city, but were accompanied by their relatives, wedding witnesses were never chosen from the members of one’s own family. It is interesting to note that a mercer who featured as godfather to many children appeared only rarely as a wedding witness. This is the case of Bartolomeo Bontempelli.50 In the sestiere of San Salvador, Bontempelli appeared thirteen times as the first godfather and thirteen times as the second one. But he appeared only very few times as a wedding witness: he was present at the weddings of his business partner and his daughters, his shop assistant and also at the weddings of his own servants.51 Any errors aside, this is the first time that an overlap between wedding witnesses and godparenthood has been noticed: wedding witness in 1576 at the wedding of Sebastiano Rubi, one of his commercial partners, with Isabetta Varisco, in 1578 he is chosen as godfather to their daughter Isabetta.52

  • 53 ASPVe, Matrimoni, reg. 2, p. 151, 24 August 1583.
  • 54 ASPVe, Morti, reg. 2, p. 17, 2 June 1579.
  • 55 ASVe, Notarile, Atti, b. 2576, fol. 75v-77r, 3 April 1568.
  • 56 ASVe, Avogadori de Comun, Prova di nobilità, b. 326, 13 May 1593. The Milanese Francesco Gradignan (...)

19In sum, my preliminary study shows that wedding witnesses were chosen among relatives by marriage or from the circle of one’s business partners. For example, in 1583, Antonio Negroni served as a wedding witness for the marriage of one of Serafino Regazzi’s daughters.53 Negroni was related to Regazzi since his niece Maria had married a son of Regazzi’s.54 Moreover, the Regazzi and the Negroni families were not only related by marriage but had also been business partners since 1568.55 This example well illustrates how witnesses could sometimes be not just relatives by marriage, but also business partners chosen to consolidate business relationships by demonstrating a renewal of trust. It is difficult to say how often these two circles, wedding witnesses and business partners, overlap, but it does not seem to be uncommon. For instance, Maldotto chose his wedding witnesses from his close-knit circle of business relations.56

  • 57 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 257, 21 September 1581; reg. 2, p. 54, 22 Au (...)
  • 58 ASPVe, Matrimoni, reg. 2, p. 191, 20 January 1586. The other witness is a man from the parish of Sa (...)
  • 59 Ibid., reg. 2, p. 195, 10 August 1590.
  • 60 ASPVe, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 119, 27 April 1578.
  • 61 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 2, p. 72, 18 November 1591.
  • 62 It’s about Giacomo Bergonzi alla Madonna and Zuane de Rossi al Pero. Ibid. The area that constitute (...)

20Witnesses were indeed chosen from a very narrow circle: the neighbourhood. Let us look at the wedding witnesses of the daughters of two business partners, Giacomo Morando and Antonio Manzoni, who lived near the same parish of San Zulian. Both business partners lived in the “merzaria del ponte dei bareteri”. It was not uncommon for one business partner to choose the other as godfather to his children on several occasions, as a way to strengthen their bond.57 When Cristina, daughter of Giacomo Morando, partner of Antonio Manzoni, married a dyer from the parish of Santa Maria Formosa, the delivery boy of the shop at the Due Campane acted as a witness since he was a neighbour of the Morando family.58 At the wedding between Caterina, daughter of Giacomo Morando, and Zorzi Bergonzi, son of Nicolò, which took place in the year 1590,59 the two witnesses of the union were Marco Navager and Francesco, mercer under the sign of Italian. Practising the same profession, these two men had collaborated with each other and, in 1578, they established godparenthood ties with one mercer from San Zulian.60 It is hard to believe it was a coincidence when the man, Francesco, mercer under the sign of Italian, who witnessed the wedding of the second daughter of Giacomo Morando entered into marriage with Perina, daughter of Antonio Manzoni, a business partner of Giacomo Morando.61 The relational circle of one of the partners seems to have nourished the circle of the other; in fact, it is from this circle of witnesses that the husband of the partner’s daughter was chosen. On the occasion of the wedding of Perina Manzoni and Francesco, mercer under the sign of Italian, the witnesses were chosen from the mercers residing in the “merzaria del ponte dei bareteri”.62 In this case, professional endogamy and residential proximity overlapped.

  • 63 Between 1565 et 1590, Nicolo Diana appears seven times as a witness, ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulia (...)
  • 64 A large number of clerics appear in Riccardo Cella’s study of witnesses to potters’ weddings in Ven (...)
  • 65 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 193, no 255, 22 October 1570.
  • 66 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 1, p. 92, 8 January 1581; ibid., reg. 2, p. 194, 1 (...)

21Then there were regular witnesses: the mercer Nicolò Diana, who must have enjoyed a great reputation, is a case in point since he appears as a wedding witness not only for the children of mercers, but also at weddings in other professional fields and,63 in some respects, it could be said that Nicolò Diana was a sort of “parish witness”. One could wonder about the purely administrative role he played and the weak bond he might have had with the spouses. But had it only been a matter of reaching the required quorum, the priest would have asked a cleric.64 A wedding was publicised and was a public event, including the moment when the future spouses were introduced to their community. In addition, he acted as a witness for some men from his own profession and was often accompanied by another witness, who was often known to the community. A parish register is not in and by itself enough to reconstruct or identify an individual’s social network. It is the intersection of multiple sources that can give indications and help us explain what kind of relationship individuals had with one another. The presence of Nicolò Diana was required at the wedding of two daughters of the Most Excellent Physician Dr. Augustin Gadaldino, the first time in 1569, while a year later, the name of Augustin himself appeared as a witness to the last will of Nicolò Diana’s wife.65 By the time his other daughter got married in 1587, her father Agostino Gadaldino had died, and Nicolò Diana is one of the witnesses. A bond of trust and friendship had been established between the Diana and the Gadaldino family, which was maintained and possibly even cemented over time. Likewise, the widow of a lute maker, Orsetta, chose the same person to give validity to her second marriage. In this case, it is not possible to say whether the corporate affiliation dictated the choice of witness: in fact, the mercers and lute makers had institutional ties, but Orsetta’s first husband came from another district, and it is likely that she chose a witness with whom she interacted within her living space.66

  • 67 Such as Giacomo Bergonzi, Bartolomeo Bontempelli, Battista Cucchi.
  • 68 Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, Parrocchia di San Salvador, Battesimi, reg. 1, fol. 144v, 16 (...)
  • 69 Massimi 1995, p. 125.
  • 70 As Jean François Chauvard points out, the godfather who carried the child to the church door was no (...)

22Was the appointment of a given mercer as godfather an indicator of his reputation within the guild? Some heads of the guild appear to have served as compari on a regular basis, especially for other fellow mercers.67 This indicates that it was customary among mercers to choose – as protectors for their children – people who occupied the highest positions in the guild hierarchy. What about the people who were rarely called to act as godfathers then? For example, the mercer Augustin Maldotto appears only once as godfather.68 This can be explained by his somewhat remote location, Sant’Aponal, but it does not seem to be a satisfactory explanation. It seems that Maldotto had ties with other individuals of a very high rank: this is suggested by the people present at the baptism of his two daughters, Isabetta and Vittoria, as Isabetta’s godfather was Alvise Cucina, who held an important position in the Scuola grande di San Rocco,69 with whom the family seems to have already established a relationship of trust. The Cucinas were a city family whose palace in Sant’Aponal overlooked the Grand Canal and it was where mercer Maldotto lived. In 1572, for Agostino Maldotto’s second daughter, Vittoria, the Spanish ambassador, Patriarch Grimani and the Illustrious Lorenzo Soranzo held her at the baptismal font. Although we do not know if they were the godparents of the child, the fact remains that the mercer from the Three Moors made choices outside his professional environment.70 The three men who participated in the sacrament were all noble and held political and diplomatic positions, thus enhancing the social prestige of the Maldotto family.

  • 71 About the Maldotto family, see Cowan 2007, p. 36-38, 66, 89.

23Can we talk about an opening to the outside world through Maldotto’s choices in terms of spiritual kinship? He certainly turned away from the mercers, but he selected individuals who seemed closer to him. For although he was not a Venetian nobleman, he shared some of their habits and acquaintances. It is enough to say that he received Earl of Arundel Philip Howard of the Kingdom of England at his residence to realise that he does not belong to this range of mercers who are professionally endogamous even in terms of the list of godfathers.71

  • 72 ASVe, Arti, b. 320, libro de chomandamenti, 17 May 1566.
  • 73 Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, San Salvador, Battesimi, reg. 1, fol. 60v, 1 March 1579.
  • 74 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 102, Marzeri, fol. 13v-14r, 23 February 1566.

24With Maldotto, it is clear that the mercers’ guild is the place of refuge for merchants deprived of any social mobility towards nobility, though still on the rise. The mercer Vignola, like others, refuses to be at the head of the guild,72 and like Maldotto, he appears only once as godfather.73 We could therefore speculate that he probably felt above the status of a mercer, since the life of the guild does not interest him. The same applies to Maldotto who, although he does not refuse to take up the position, he neglects any managerial duties.74 We therefore have a group of mercers who, through their behaviour and their networks, clearly distinguish themselves from other mercers.

  • 75 Respectively, ASVe, Savi alla Mercanzia, Prima serie, reg. 138, fol. 159v-160r, 29 November 1591; A (...)
  • 76 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 120, 27 December 1578, the eccellente meser (...)
  • 77 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 2, p. 257, 10 December 1592.
  • 78 Ibid., reg. 2, p. 53, 19 July 1589.
  • 79 For the supplication of Poleni, see ASVe, Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia, b. 138, fol. 119r, 20 June 15 (...)

25What emerges from analysing the list of godfathers is how prevalent professional endogamy is; and when the choices for spiritual kinship are outside the mercers’ guild, they still fall within the same parameters: individuals high up in the scuole grandi, who also have commercial interests. It must be borne in mind that financial interests are very much prominent, and some of these godfathers (Marco Rubi, the son of Lorenzo di Agazzi, and Zuan Antonio Boneri, Locatello) are ship owners.75 The elite members chose as godfathers people belonging to the same rank as theirs – that is, mercers from Bergamo who sat or would later sit in the administration of the guild. Therefore, spiritual kinship can be seen as a way for the elite to consolidate itself. If we focus on Sebastiano Rubi, a mercer who acquired citizenship in 1579, we notice that his choice of godfathers changed in a way that was unrelated to his status. In the year 1578, his wedding witness Bartolomeo Bontempelli was asked to act as godfather to his daughter. Later, two more daughters were assigned two godparents each. While the presence of nobles as first godparents is notable, it must be emphasised that each of them was backed up by a mercer and a cloth merchant as second godparents.76 This can be seen as a form of social networking, but is also indicative of a desire not to be totally separated from one’s professional environment. In 1592, Bortolomeo Poleni, mercer under the sign of Frate, was chosen as spiritual guarantor for the son of Sebastiano Rubi.77 A godparenthood relationship had already been established since 1589, when Sebastiano Rubi became godfather to his daughter.78 This reciprocity can highlight a bond of friendship between these mercers, both recently naturalised.79 It is therefore clear that Rubi chose as compari people belonging to the same status as himself, practising his same profession, and aspiring, like him, to citizenship. In short, fathers and godfathers usually shared the same experiences or background and were members of the same confraternities.

  • 80 Bruni 1984, 1985; Raines 2006; Borean 2007. For the family tree of the Bergonzi family, see annex 2 (...)
  • 81 ASVe, Scuola grande di San Marco, reg. 6 bis, fol. 33r, 1570, [Degani tutto l’anno] “Nicolo Diana”. (...)
  • 82 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 2, p. 234, 25 June 1583; ibid., reg. 2, p. 67, 5 N (...)
  • 83 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 3, p. 147, 25 August 1611; ibid., reg. 4, p. 107, (...)
  • 84 Ibid.
  • 85 Ibid., reg. 4, p. 94, 4 January 1623.

26An analysis of the Bergonzi of San Zulian family over three generations confirms these assumptions. The Bergonzi case is partly well known in Venetian historiography, but it seems to me that it is possible to make other considerations.80 The Bergonzi family was divided into three branches, the Bergonzi from San Zulian, San Salvador and Ruffino. To identify individuals, the name of the workshop was used to overcome any problems of homonymy: the shop sign of the Madonna for the branch from San Zulian, that of Tre Montagne for the Bergonzi from San Salvador and that of Santa Catterina for the Bergonzi from the Ruffino branch in San Zulian. In 1582, in San Zulian, Dorotea, the daughter of Sebastiano Rubi, gastaldo of the mercers’ Guild, married Giovanni Battista Bergonzi alla Madonna. Their wedding witnesses were two mercers with Venetian citizenship: Niccolò Diana, formerly head of the guild and confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and Bartolomeo Bontempelli. Their parallel careers in the guild and in the confraternity certainly influenced their choice of wedding witness. In addition, Nicolò Diana and Bartolomeo Bontempelli held positions in two other great confraternities.81 Furthermore, Giovanni Battista Bergonzi was the brother of Giacomo Bergonzi, a mercer who had attended the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento in the same years as Sebastiano Rubi. The Bergonzis had acquired Venetian citizenship in 1581, just one year before Giovanni Battista’s marriage. If we consider the godfathers of the ten children born in the Rubi and Bergonzi families in the years 1583-1602, we can see that they were all involved in trade, especially the mercers and merchants, even though we note the presence of one state official and the magnificent signor Sforza Nova.82 Between 1611 and 1624, of the four Bergonzi children, three marry children of mercers, whose families are leaders of a corporation, like, Negroni, Cerchieri, Tasca;83 the vast majority of their wedding witnesses were citizens, naturalised mercers, but also representatives of the liberal arts.84 It is only during the wedding between Antonia Bergonzi and Francesco Benedetti, head of the great confraternity of Saint Giovanni Evangelista, that the witnesses are of noble extraction.85 Only then is it possible to see any relational mobility. Since, until then, marriages took place in the same professional environment and were attested at the presence of citizens, merchants and mercers. In this sense, and until 1623, the Bergonzi family chose to build horizontal relationships between peers, even though we know that sometimes the bonds between peers hide asymmetrical relationships.

  • 86 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 4, p. 141, 9 January 1629; ibid., reg. 4, p. 353, (...)
  • 87 Ibid., reg. 4, p. 91, 29 April 1626; ibid., reg. 4, p. 343, 3 February 1627; ibid., reg. 4, p. 35, (...)
  • 88 Raines 2006.
  • 89 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 51, San Teodoro, fol. nn., 1629; fol. nn., 1643; fol. nn., 1646.
  • 90 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 5, p. 27, 30 January 1642.
  • 91 Zannini 1993; Raines 2006.
  • 92 Ibid.

27Let us now turn, however, to the generation of Giovanni Battista’s grandsons. The nine sons of Bartolomeo Bergonzi and his wife Isabella Tasca, also the daughter of a mercer, were born between 1626 and 1639: two of them had one mercer and one merchant as godfathers;86 notably, the godfathers of the other seven belonged to the highest ranks of Venetian nobility: one of them was Simone Contarini, procurator of Saint Mark; others were members of the Morosini, Renier and Basadona families.87 What is evident here is the Bergonzis’ effort to come into contact through spiritual kinship with more useful and important people in the social scale. Research has already shown that three of Bartolomeo Bergonzi’s daughters married noblemen.88 But if we consider those attending the wedding of his first daughter Dorotea Bergonzi with Bonifacio Antelmi son of Antonio, Secretary of the Senate, which took place in 1642, we can see that all those present at the wedding were merchants integrated into the hierarchy of the great confraternity of San Teodoro,89 while the witnesses at the wedding blessing were Francesco Labia and Giovanni Battista Ottobon:90 Venetian citizens who bought the title of patrician as soon as possible, i.e. in 1646, as did the Antelmi family.91 The Bergonzis bought their nobility title only on 26 April 1665.92 We can thus see clearly that couples and their witnesses shared the same ambitions. In this sense, witnesses can be indicators of integration in the city but also of social aspirations.

Conclusions

28The guild, although welcoming immigrants and individuals from different professions, seems to have reserved its administration only to Venetians by birth or privilege. In this sense, we can describe the guild of mercers as a privileged place. What may be surprising is the fact that all those who sat on the council were previous members of the small confraternities, acquired their citizenship, and held important positions in the great confraternities before being at the helm of the guild. It seems that individual status and professional success cannot be measured in the light of one’s career within a single institution, but in a game of strategy between guilds and pious institutions. Looking at how quickly individuals moved from holding office in one institution to another shows that large and small brotherhoods and the guild of mercers were permeable institutions that communicated with each other. One could speak of a career of interlocking honours across different spheres. In many respects, being elected as the head of the guild meant that an individual was successfully on his or her way towards integration.

  • 93 Alfani 2006b.

29During the late sixteenth century, mercers appeared as a markedly endogamic group. Their elite had strong interests in protecting their leadership and status and had to be united in order to secure both personal and guild-wide interests. Unsurprisingly, the leaders who followed never really broke with the policy of their predecessors. Finally, even though the guild’s leadership was not monopolised by just a handful of families, it is clear that all these individuals forged links/bonds between themselves through matrimonial alliances and spiritual kinship. In this way, they were able to create unity and ensure continuity (within their lineages and guild). The first results of the survey show that there was no overlap between wedding witnesses and godparents in Venice, or if there was, it was only to a small degree. In this respect, the results are in line with the conclusions drawn by Guido Alfani in his study of Ivrea.93 Perhaps this happened simply because, between the baptism and the wedding, the alliances with other families shifted. As far as wedding witnesses were concerned, guild members often opted for people they trusted, long-standing business partners. On the other hand, the elite of mercers – whose integration, at this stage, was more consistent – tended to choose baptismal godfathers among their own ranks to reinforce the status of their children.

30If we widen the scope to include a larger sample, we can find some leaders of mercers who appear to be godfathers to several other members of the corporation. The spiritual bond created in this way (godparenthood relationship) not only tightened the mercers’ elite, but also gave the opportunity to create vertical bonds within the broader, more heterogeneous body of the guild. In choosing their godfathers for their own children, however, mercers’ leaders turned to a wider circle of people with similar upbringing and economic interests. They sometimes chose people further up their path towards citizenship, at least during the sixteenth century, strategically expanding their networks by diversifying their godparents.

31Professional trajectories within the institutions and the development of kinship of the guild’s members appear to be parallel strategies which heavily influence each other. The proposal put forward in this article should be explored in greater depth and would benefit from a quantitative study. The task is quite ambitious, due to the nature of the sources. In fact, despite the serial nature of the sources, there is nothing homogeneous about them. It is sometimes difficult to identify individuals, as their status, their first names, their qualities, their shop signs are not reported on several occasions. However, such a study would shed light on the evolution of the mercers’ guild between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century from an institution for the protection of the interests of its members to a tool for social advancement. To this end, providing data would help formulate a hypothesis that could ultimately be confirmed or disproved.

Annex 1 – First results of a work in progress: summary table of the officers of the guild of mercers who have obtained offices in at least one confraternity and some of whom have been naturalized.

Name Office in the confraternity Santissimo Sacramento Office in the confraternity of San Teodoro Office in mercers’guild Year of obtaining citizenship
Alessandro Tasca Gastaldo 1601 1612
Augustin Maldotto Degano1556 Gastaldo 1566
Sindico 1557
Bartolomeo Bontempelli Gastaldo 1581 1579
Gastaldo 1594
Bastian Boscolomi Guardian 1550 Sindico 1549
Guardian 1551
Guardian Grande 1552
Guardian 1550
Battista Inveraldi Gastaldo 1577 1578
Battista Petrobelli Gastaldo 1572 Gastaldo 1574
Battista Quarenghi Gastaldo 1601 Gastaldo 1607
Bernardo Galucci Gastaldo 1577 Scrivan 1560 Gastaldo 1587
Sindico 1562
Bernardo Sechini Scrivan 1569 Giudice of mid-year 1581
Sindico 1586
Gastaldo 1594
Bortolomeo Poleni 1590
Francesco Gradignan Guardian Grande 1592 Gastaldo 1586
Francesco Rossi (Dal Melon) Gastaldo 1586
Giacomo Bergonzi Guardian 1586 Gastaldo 1588 1581
Gastaldo 1598
Giacomo Cinque Vie Guardian 1559 Degano 1550 Gastaldo 1565 1561
Vicario 1551
Guardian 1561
Giovani Maria Rotta Vicario 1578 Guardian 1591 Giudice for the whole year 1581
Gastaldo 1582
Gastaldo 1587
Iseppo Negroni Gastaldo 1584 Dodici 1588 Dodici 1572
Sindaco 1592
Dodici 1592
Dodici 1597
Sindaco 1598
Lorenzo Agazzi Giudice for the whole year 1586
Sinico 1591
Lorenzo Guidotto Giudice of mid-year 1588 Giudice for the whole year 1586
Madernin De Rigo Gastaldo 1600 Gastaldo 1603 1590
Marc Antonio Prezzato Scrivan 1552 Gastaldo 1563
Vicario 1561
Dodici 1587
Mario Da Monte Gastaldo 1593
Martin De Cerchieri Dodici 1552 Gastaldo 1569
Guardian 1560
Dodeci 1562
Morando Giacomo 1591
Nicolò Diana Scrivan 1548 Gastaldo 1570
Guardian 1571
Oliviero Della Vecchia Gastaldo 1595
Gastaldo 1597
Orazio Milani Gastaldo 1604 1600
Piero Amigoni Gastaldo 1568 Degano for the whole year 1557
Dodici 1592
Sebastian Rubi Aggiunto 1578 Dodeci 1588 Gastaldo 1578 1579
Guardian 1585 Degano 1592
Tomaso Tasca Gastaldo 1577 1564
Zuan Allegri Vicario 1610 Gastaldo 1603 1590
Zuan Antonio Boneri Gastaldo 1591
Zuan Antonio Bozza Gastaldo 1612 1607
Zuan Battista Cucchi Gastaldo 1593 Sindico 1608
Zuan Maria Locatello Dodici 1625

Annex 2 – Simplified family tree of the Bergonzi family of San Zulian (alla Madonna).

Annex 2 – Simplified family tree of the Bergonzi family of San Zulian (alla Madonna).
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Bibliographie

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BMCVe = Biblioteca Museo Correr di Venezia

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Notes

1 Above the link between family and economy in Europe, see Cavaciocchi 2009. On family definition problems, see Levi 1989, p. 64-65; Cavallo 2006.

2 For a presentation about Venetian guilds, see: Costantini 1987; MacKenney 1987, MacKenney 1997; Crouzet-Pavan 2007; Gramigna – Perissa 2008; Bellavitis 2013.

3 MacKenney 1987, 2019; Cecchini 2017.

4 Cerutti 2012.

5 Alfani 2006b, p. 58.

6 Alfani – Gourdon 2012.

7 Lorenzini 2005.

8 Here I adopt the definition of family provided by historians of network analysis and mesosociologists who had worked on individual interaction and networks of solidarity. See Lemercier 2005a, 2005b.

9 Canepari 2017, p. 100-101.

10 Bruni 1984; id. 1985, p. 75-82; Bellavitis 2001, p. 243 and p. 258-268. San Zulian and its population have not been studied from a demographic point of view. Valentina Sapienza’s studies, through the composition of an extensive documentary corpus, provides the history of the artistic patrons of San Zulian church building site while sketching out the identities of these individuals, many of whom populate this micro-locality that is the San Zulian district, see Sapienza 2018.

11 Mueller 1999.

12 Even tough San Zulian was the place for collective representation of the guild and was accessible to all its members, the mercers celebrated themselves in the church of San Salvador.

13 In their last wills and testaments, it seems that few mercers thought about their spiritual kin (compari). Indeed, just two mercers spoke about them, ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 1013, no 13, October 1568; ibid., b. 196, no 918, 15 October 1587. Moreover, the word compari is very ambiguous, as it can designate friends, a link between father and child’s parents or a partnership. As a result, we chose to focus on parish registers.

14 Tucci 1973.

15 Above the socio-economic success of some mercers in Venice, see Corazzol 1994; Mason 2008; Cecchini 2014, p. 147-176. For Bartolomeo Bontempelli see also Tucci 1970.

16 The mercer Battista Cucchi breaks all records by displaying more than five different trade names.

17 On citizenship in Venice, see Zannini 1993; Mueller 1999; Grubb 2000; Bellavitis 2001.

18 Canepari 2012; Rolla 2019.

19 On the great confraternities in Venezia, the reference work remains Brian Pullan’s, Pullan 1982; see also Guidarelli 2011. On the small confraternities, see Pullan 1981; Scarabello 1981; Ortalli 2001; Vio 2004. More generally, see D’Andrea 2013; Mackenney 2019.

20 Pullan 1982.

21 Bellavitis 2001, p. 335-336; Matino 2015.

22 In 1552, at the request of the mercer Sebastiano Boscolomi, the Council of Ten elevated the old school of San Teodoro, then a small confraternity located in the church of San Salvador, to the rank of great confraternities, Pullan 1982, p. 101.

23 See annex 1.

24 Sapienza 2018.

25 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 179/1, San Rocco, Venturin della Vecchia is part of the administration between 1533 and 1547, whilst from 1548 his son makes his debut and takes over, until he obtains the title of guardian grande in 1569; see also Massimi 1995, p. 126

26 While Bartolomeo Bontempelli assumed his last office in 1599 at the Scuola di San Rocco, in 1600 Grazioso is one of the members in the zonta; see ibid., p. 118. See also the list of the confraternity members, BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 179/1, San Rocco.

27 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 78 no 133, 25 May 1567.

28 Ibid., “Et perché son stato buon servitor di questo stato io raccomando al serenissimo principe Mocenigo et ad ogni altro che succederà i miei figlioli che son certo non li lascierà opprimere da alcuno.”

29 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 1013, no 108, 13 October 1568. About Prezzato, see Bellavitis 2008, p. 153.

30 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 645, no 126, 31 July 1576.

31 Ibid., b. 195, no 572, 18 May 1570.

32 Bellavitis 2001, p. 63.

33 Cella 2014.

34 Mackenney 2019, p. 176. More generally, for a definition of each titular office in the mercers’ guild, see ibid., p. 154-157.

35 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 89, no 7, Maldotto mentions Vincenzo de Anzoli as his compare. In his first will he states that Vincenzo is one of his commercial partners.

36 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 102, Marzeri, fol. 90r.

37 Prodi 1989; Zarri 1996, p. 437-483; Lombardi 2001.

38 As for the changing protocol through the various stages of a wedding in the Venetian wedding registers, see Cavazzana Romanelli 2006 (special thanks to Fondazione Bruno Kessler for allowing me to access the entire book); for Venetian parish registers, see Cavazzana Romanelli – Orlando 2004.

39 Alfani – Castagnetti – Gourdon 2009; for a more recent work, see Alfani – Gourdon 2012. To learn more about Florence, see Klapisch-Zuber 1990, while for Italy in general the main study is still Alfani 2006a. About spiritual kinship in Venice, see Chauvard 2009; Cella 2014; Munno 2005; Galtarossa 2020, p. 204-205. In a recent article, Andrew Vidali analyses the use of spiritual kinship and its political use in the Venetian nobility: Vidali 2022.

40 Cella 2014.

41 Lorenzini 2005.

42 Beauvalet – Gourdon 1998.

43 Gourdon 2005, 2008.

44 Chauvard 2020.

45 Alfani 2006b, 2013. For a later period and a different geographical place, see Violić-Koprivec – Vekarić 2016.

46 See fn. 15 in Lorenzini 2005, p. 124.

47 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1; p. 85, 5 September 1574; p. 101, 30 July 1577; p. 18, 22 November 1577; p. 139, 16 December 1579; Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, San Salvador, Battesimi, reg. 1, fol. 65v, 24 August 1574.

48 Ibid.

49 Chauvard 2009. For a quantitative study of births and godparenthood in the parish of San Zulian and San Salvador, see Fiorucci forthcoming.

50 Other research has highlighted Bontempelli’s presence as godfather in other parishes in Venice, to the point of saying that he is the “godfather of all”, see Baroncini Rodolfo 2013. Gigi Corazzol has demonstrated the social prestige conferred by the choice of this mercer as godfather in Venice as well as on the mainland, see Corazzol 1994.

51 Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, Parrocchia di San Salvador, Matrimoni, reg. 1, fol. 15v, 9 September 1599; reg. 1, fol. 17v, 22 June 1603; reg. 1, fol. 21r, 23 April 1577.

52 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 118, 10 March 1578.

53 ASPVe, Matrimoni, reg. 2, p. 151, 24 August 1583.

54 ASPVe, Morti, reg. 2, p. 17, 2 June 1579.

55 ASVe, Notarile, Atti, b. 2576, fol. 75v-77r, 3 April 1568.

56 ASVe, Avogadori de Comun, Prova di nobilità, b. 326, 13 May 1593. The Milanese Francesco Gradignan affirms that he was a witness, along with Bernardin Rotulo, to the wedding of Augustin Maldotto. From Maldotto’s last will we learn that Maldotto and Rotulo were business partners. Maldotto describes Bernardin Rotulo both as a compare (godparenthood/spiritual kin) and his very dear brother, designating him as one of his will executors, ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 78, no 133.

57 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 257, 21 September 1581; reg. 2, p. 54, 22 August 1590.

58 ASPVe, Matrimoni, reg. 2, p. 191, 20 January 1586. The other witness is a man from the parish of Santa Marina.

59 Ibid., reg. 2, p. 195, 10 August 1590.

60 ASPVe, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 119, 27 April 1578.

61 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 2, p. 72, 18 November 1591.

62 It’s about Giacomo Bergonzi alla Madonna and Zuane de Rossi al Pero. Ibid. The area that constitutes the merzeria at the bareteri bridge is the site where nineteen families were surveyed from the Status Animarum, ASPVe, Curia, Sezione Antica, Status Animarum, San Zulian, 1593.

63 Between 1565 et 1590, Nicolo Diana appears seven times as a witness, ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 1, p. 43, 6 February 1564; ibid., reg. 1, p. 51, 23 February 1574; ibid., reg. 1, p. 61, 19 March 1577; ibid., reg. 1, p. 38, 21 January 1582; ibid., p. 65, 30 March 1573; ibid., reg. 2, p. 6, 11 August 1587; ibid., reg. 2, p. 194, 19 May 1587.

64 A large number of clerics appear in Riccardo Cella’s study of witnesses to potters’ weddings in Venice.

65 ASVe, Notarile, Testamenti, b. 193, no 255, 22 October 1570.

66 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 1, p. 92, 8 January 1581; ibid., reg. 2, p. 194, 19 May 1587.

67 Such as Giacomo Bergonzi, Bartolomeo Bontempelli, Battista Cucchi.

68 Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, Parrocchia di San Salvador, Battesimi, reg. 1, fol. 144v, 16 April 1566.

69 Massimi 1995, p. 125.

70 As Jean François Chauvard points out, the godfather who carried the child to the church door was not necessarily the one who held the child at the baptismal font, Chauvard 2009.

71 About the Maldotto family, see Cowan 2007, p. 36-38, 66, 89.

72 ASVe, Arti, b. 320, libro de chomandamenti, 17 May 1566.

73 Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, San Salvador, Battesimi, reg. 1, fol. 60v, 1 March 1579.

74 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 102, Marzeri, fol. 13v-14r, 23 February 1566.

75 Respectively, ASVe, Savi alla Mercanzia, Prima serie, reg. 138, fol. 159v-160r, 29 November 1591; ASVe, Collegio, Suppliche di Dentro, b. 7, filza 10, fol. 141r, 16 October 1597; ASVe, Notarile, Atti, b. 772, fol. 398r, 19 December 1612.

76 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 1, p. 120, 27 December 1578, the eccellente meser Lorenzo Aretin quondam Ricardo Aretin and the mercers Bernardo Sechini alla Nave. Ibid., reg. 1, p. 26, 19 January 1580, the magnifico Andrea Venier quondam Antonio Venier and meser Matthio quondam Zuan Donado di Noris. Bernardo Sechini is a member of the mercers’guild and part of the guild’s administration, in notarial deeds he is designated as “distinguished merchant”, see ASVe, Notarile, Atti, b. 514, fol. 157v, 18 July 1589. For the Noris family, see ASVe, Miscellanea codici storia Veneta, Cittadini Veneziani, Tassini Giuseppe, b. 14, vol. XI, fol. 1468r; per le cariche nella Scuola grande di San Teodoro, BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 51, San Teodoro, fol. nn., 1588.

77 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 2, p. 257, 10 December 1592.

78 Ibid., reg. 2, p. 53, 19 July 1589.

79 For the supplication of Poleni, see ASVe, Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia, b. 138, fol. 119r, 20 June 1590. For the privilege, see Bellavitis 2004.

80 Bruni 1984, 1985; Raines 2006; Borean 2007. For the family tree of the Bergonzi family, see annex 2. I thank Antonio Mazzucco for having helped me and facilitated my research on the Bergonzi family.

81 ASVe, Scuola grande di San Marco, reg. 6 bis, fol. 33r, 1570, [Degani tutto l’anno] “Nicolo Diana”. I thank Gabriel Matino who kindly brought this information to my attention. About Bartolomeo Bontempelli, Degano 1580, Zonta 1585, 1587, 1589, 1591, 1593, 1597; Guardiano Grande 1599; see Massimi 1995.

82 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 2, p. 234, 25 June 1583; ibid., reg. 2, p. 67, 5 November 1584; ibid., reg. 2, fol. 50, 24 April 1586; Archivio parrocchiale di San Salvador, San Salvador, reg. 1, fol. 19v, 28 June 1588; ibid., reg. 2, fol. nn., 3 July 1590; ibid., reg. 1, fol. 47r, 15 January 1592; ibid., reg. 2, fol. nn., 13 January 1594; ibid., reg. 3, fol. nn., 22 March 1595; ibid., reg. 3, fol. nn., 14 March 1600; ibid., reg. 3, fol. nn., 18 November 1602.

83 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 3, p. 147, 25 August 1611; ibid., reg. 4, p. 107, 22 October 1613; ibid., reg. 4, p. 43, 30 December 1624.

84 Ibid.

85 Ibid., reg. 4, p. 94, 4 January 1623.

86 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Battesimi, reg. 4, p. 141, 9 January 1629; ibid., reg. 4, p. 353, 27 December 1632.

87 Ibid., reg. 4, p. 91, 29 April 1626; ibid., reg. 4, p. 343, 3 February 1627; ibid., reg. 4, p. 35, 17 December 1631; ibid., reg. 5, p. 112, 16 October 1634; ibid., reg. 5, p. 96, 17 March 1636; ibid., reg. 5, p. 114, 7 May 1637; ibid., reg. 5, p. 117, 18 June 1639.

88 Raines 2006.

89 BMCVe, ms. Classe IV 51, San Teodoro, fol. nn., 1629; fol. nn., 1643; fol. nn., 1646.

90 ASPVe, Parrocchia di San Zulian, Matrimoni, reg. 5, p. 27, 30 January 1642.

91 Zannini 1993; Raines 2006.

92 Ibid.

93 Alfani 2006b.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Annex 2 – Simplified family tree of the Bergonzi family of San Zulian (alla Madonna).
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Emilie Fiorucci, « Social relations, marriage and godparenthood »Mélanges de l’École française de Rome - Moyen Âge, 135-1 | 2023, 103-118.

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Emilie Fiorucci, « Social relations, marriage and godparenthood »Mélanges de l’École française de Rome - Moyen Âge [En ligne], 135-1 | 2023, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2023, consulté le 19 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/mefrm/11750 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/mefrm.11750

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European University Institute – emilie.fiorucci@alumni.eui.eu

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