Fondazione F. Datini

Human Solvency - Historical Research Prize

It is organised by the "F. Datini" Prato International Institute of Economic History Foundation, based on an idea by Paolo Evangelisti and Angela Orlandi. It aims to enhance the research of scholars who focus their studies on the issue of economic solvency viewed in all its implications, including those of the languages, theological, philosophical and legal lexicons that have structured key concepts and phenomena such as poverty, the common good, public debt, taxation, and monetary institutions. The idea is to favour a long-term approach, avoiding chronological partitions that risk the fragmentation of the depth and knowledge of historical phenomena resulting from complex dynamics that matured between the medieval age and the threshold of contemporaneity. The Prize logo, also with the explicit citation of the Lullian ars combinatoria, reflects, synthesises and conveys the project and its underlying cultural premises.
In particular, it points in the plural to the interaction between economies, poverty and theologies.
The term "economies" refers to diversified structures, factual forms and patterns of thinking over a long period of time. The concept of "poverty" in the plural is intended to emphasise not only the historically covered semantic range, but also the fact that, in the period indicated, poverty has scales and units of measurement that define different and variously compounded, measurable, denounceable equalities and inequalities. As for "theologies" (theologies tout court and economic theologies), the plural refers directly to the three main monotheisms at work in medieval Europe and their different legacies developed and settled in the centuries following the crucial 15th and 16th centuries. This opens up the prize to the neighbouring and bordering worlds of Western Europe.
The awarding of the biennial prize, with the awarding of 10,000 euros to the winner, is in recognition of the commitment of the scholar who has completed the work of excavation and historical framing by presenting innovative methodological and epistemological approaches based on solid sources and data.
Within this framework is also the invitation to explore the role played by means of exchange/money in their institutional significance and in their most diverse meanings. (see logo). It is specifically research and historical criticism on these topics that can open up more robust avenues of understanding, showing fruitful interconnections and interweavings. It is enough to think, by way of example, of the decisive role for reflection on human economic action, market dynamics and credit played by the interweaving of two historical phenomena characterising the last three centuries of the medieval age. We are referring here to the rediscovery/reinterpretation of Aristotelian thought and the great season of development of the Mendicant Orders that gave rise to a true Franciscan School of economics. A piece of the history of economic thought and analysis that nurtured not only the Second Scholasticism but also the burgeoning of economic thought in 15th-century Italian humanism and the first affirmation of public banks, as also demonstrated by the historiographical fine-tuning proposed by the latest Treccani supplement to economic thought.
In their reverberations of the modern age, these well-structured and established economic lexicons, productive of institutions and concrete experiments, the result of an intense discourse with the other monotheistic cultures in Europe of the time, starting with the Jewish one, connect with the texts of Konrad Summenharth (1455 – 1511) or Johannes Althusius (1563 – 1638), with the thought of the Scottish moralists, with the first great season of French and English political economy, but also with the civil economy proposed by Antonio Genovesi (1713 – 1769). This is a wide-ranging perspective that, in terms of legal history and legal languages, has also been intensively explored by Italian scholars of the calibre of Giovanni Tarello (1934 – 1987) or Paolo Grossi (1933 – 2022).
It is within this framework that the great, even older body of textual material, that of Greek and Latin patristics, of monastic norms, reveals itself in all its depth and richness, providing lexicons, taxonomies, and therefore interpretative and managerial frameworks that await further exploration.

© Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica "F. Datini"