Francesco Datini in Epistolary Reflection

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2021, Vol. 7. № 1 (25)

Francesco Datini in Epistolary Reflection

For citation: Emanov A. G., Evstiunin V. A. 2021. “Francesco Datini in Epistolary Reflection”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 7, no. 1 (25), pp. 144-158. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2021-7-1-144-158

About the authors:

Alexandr G. Emanov, Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Professor, Head of the Department of Archaeology, Ancient and Medieval History, University of Tyumen;; ORCID: 0000-0002-2352-4363

Vladislav A. Evstiunin, Master’s Student, Department of Archaeology, Ancient and Medieval History, University of Tyumen;


The article attempts to reconstruct the mentality of the medieval burgher Francesco Datini (1335-1410) on the materials of his epistolary archive in order to study his inherent reflexive practices in the context of time and life circumstances.

The period of Datini’s life (XIV-XV centuries) was marked by a number of cataclysms, among which the Great Plague Pandemic of the middle of the XIV century seems to be the most global phenomenon. People of the “Old World” who survived these shocks felt irreversible social and mental changes. Their habitual way of life seemed to go into an irrevocable past, the established group and individual identity was destroyed. At the same time, a new model of life behavior and identity has not yet taken shape.

As a methodological basis for the research undertaken, we chose the methods of emotive history, which allowed us to concentrate research efforts on emotions and value orientations, as well as the theory of liminality, which focuses on studying the states impact of uncertainty on groups of people and individuals.

Datini’s correspondence was divided into two parts, official — with his business partners and private — with his foster mother Monna Piera di Pratese Boschetti, his wife Monna Margarita and his closest friend, notary and judge, Ser Lapo di Macei. In business correspondence, Francesco Datini appears to be occupied exclusively with thoughts on income, prone to maxims and evil irony. In private correspondence, the religious motivation of his actions, emotions, doubts, fears and fears are revealed, which were reinforced by the eschatological expectations of the transitional period.

These observations made it possible to characterize the reflexive practices of Francesco Datini as liminal. Datini’s reflexive experience turned out to be very multidimensional, reflecting the catastrophic nature of the time he lived through, which prompted him in the last years of his life to turn to charity, long fasts and asceticism.


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