Parution : Samuel K. Cohn, Jr., « Paradoxes of Inequality in Renaissance Italy », Cambridge University Press, 2021

This Element explores the longest spell that can be computed from quantifiable fiscal records when the gap between rich and poor narrowed. It was the post-Black-Death century, c. 1375 to c. 1475. Paradoxically, with economic equality and prosperity on the rise, peasants, artisans and shopkeepers suffered losses in political representation and status within cultural spheres. Threatened by growing economic equality after the Black Death, elites preserved and then enhanced their political, social, and cultural distinction predominantly through noneconomic means and within political and cultural spheres. By investigating the interactions between three ‘elements’ -economics, politics, and culture- this Element presents new facets in the emergence of early Renaissance society in Italy.


Economic Equality and Prosperity in the Post–Black Death Century


Long-Term Trends in Inequality and Their Analysis

Two Types of Equality

Equality and Inequality: The Importance of Qualitative Evidence

Prices and Wages

The Character of Post–Black Death Equality: An Open Question

Another Use of Tax Records

The Paradox of Political Inequality

Trajectories in Personal Freedom

Political Inequality in Cities

Northern Italy in a Broader European Context

Cultural Inequality

Growth of Cultural Divisions Within the Labouring Classes


Artistic Commissions

Ideals of Remembrance


General Conclusions





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