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Iris Origo's most famous book, her classic study of the life and times of a medieval Italian merchant.

In 1870 an astonishing cache, containing some 150,000 letters and great numbers of business documents, came to light. Iris Origo drew on this material to paint, in detail, a picture of Italian domestic life on the eve of the Renaissance. Francesco di Marco Datini, the 14th-century Tuscan merchant who forms the central subject of Iris Origo's study, has now probably become the most intimately accessible figure of the later Middle Ages. The book is rightly celebrated as one of the most engrossing of all modern books on Italian life and history.


Datini has now probably become most intimately accessible figure of the later Middle Ages . . . brilliant and intricate

The Times

As a picture of Tuscany before the dawn of the Renaissance it is a complement to The Decameron

Sunday Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    July 17, 2017

    Penguin Classics

    400 pages

    RRP $30.00

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  • The Merchant Of Prato
    Iris Origo



    May 4, 2017

    Penguin eBooks

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