Textile Trades

Mapping Urban Labour

The textile trade was a major player in the early modern Florentine economy, with both wool and silk being used for everyday and luxury clothing and decoration. This map shows the residences of sarti (tailors), tessitori (weavers), rigattieri (cloth retailers) and stracciaiuoli (cloth scrap merchants).

As you can see, textile weaving was an extremely common profession in Renaissance Florence; the majority of workers in this map are weavers. The second map below shows the gendered division of this labour, with female weavers (blue) distinctly relegated to the working-class areas of the city and better-paid, male silk weavers (red) located in the city’s downtown core.

Although not the only driver of the urban economy, Florentines continued intense textile production through the seventeenth century, while competition from northern Europe and an increasingly globalized economy grew fierce.

The research for this map is drawn from the chapter “Mapping Gendered Labour in the Textile Industry of Early Modern Florence” by Nicholas Terpstra, in Baker, Nicholas Scott, and Brian J. Maxson, eds. Florence in the Early Modern World: New Perspectives. Routledge, 2019.

This project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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