The small states and independent cities of the old German Reich have left many archival treasure-troves behind; traditionally these had been studied in a curiously restrictive fashion, with the emphasis on institutional and legal history.
It is most unusual for a historian to go into print in the introduction to their latest book and to wonder aloud whether it should ever have seen the light of day. Joanne Ferraro has a point. This study of early modern Italy enters territory in which any historian would wish to tread carefully.
In his New Year’s address for 2012 the British Prime Minister sought to rally a demoralized people saddled with debts, recession, and unemployment in the face of a continuing policy of wholesale transfer of assets from public to private, by reminding them of the forthcoming Olympic Games and the Queen’s Jubilee.
Desan’s fascinating book approaches the only seemingly obvious act of ‘making money’ by examining what it actually means to ‘make money’. While Desan does acknowledge the physical act involved in this process, such as the striking of coins and the printing of bills, her primary focus is to study what gave money value and validated it as a reliable medium of egalitarian exchange.