A Careful Management: The Borghese Family and their Fiefs in Early Modern Lazio

in Journal of Early Modern History
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Abstract

This article investigates economic management of fiefs as well as social relationships between lords and vassals in 17th- and 18th-century central Italy. Up to recent years, historians of early modern Italy as well as other European countries have stressed the “archaic” features of noble management, which would have prevented the emergence of a “modern” market-oriented agrarian economy, or have portrayed noblemen as market-oriented landowners neglecting their seigneurial rights. I argue here that both dimensions were present in noble management, as lords did not choose between them, but rather leaned upon one or the other according to circumstances. I base my argument on the case of the Borghese, one of the wealthiest papal families of the 17th century. Finally, this study shows that modern elements could be brought into a model characterized by strong seigneurial rights.

A Careful Management: The Borghese Family and their Fiefs in Early Modern Lazio

in Journal of Early Modern History

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