Francesco di Marco Datini (c. 1335 – 16 August 1410) was an Italian merchant born in Prato.
He was one of four children of Marco di Datino and Monna Vermigilia, who both died with two of their children as a result of the Black Death in 1348.
After his parents death, he was raised by a woman whom he called his "substitute mother." Their relationship seems to have been a positive one. We see a letter from her signed "your mother in love."
He became an apprentice of a merchant in Florence and when he was fifteen, he joined a group of merchants who were going to Avignon, the city where the Popes had moved at the time. His first business was the arms trade, which was quite profitable in Avignon during the Hundred Years' War. He eventually became a supplier of luxury goods and art for the wealthy cardinals residing there. The works of art these figures bought were some of the first consumed for private, non religious use. Before this time, the church had been the primary patron of the arts. Later on, the papacy and other pious individuals commissioned religious artwork, creating a use for Francesco's merchant skills. He was not interested in the product itself, but whether it was good quality or not, so that it might please his buyers. This individual buying of artwork is a trend that we see going into the renaissance.
In 1376, Datini entered an engagement with Margherita Bandini, the daughter of Domenico Bandini and Dianora Gheradini. Margherita was living in Avignon with her mother after her father was executed for his role in an anti-republican plot and her brothers were exiled. The couple returned to Prato to live in 1383, where his business continued to thrive.
Over the next 27 years the couple frequently corresponded through letters, giving us an insight into their marriage, his personality and his business. In the year 1400 (around the time of 17 June), the two fled from Prato to Bologna in fear of the Black Death, along with Datini's illegitimate daughter, Ginevra. He returned to die a natural death in 1410.
In 1870, five hundred account books and one hundred and fifty thousand papers relating to his business were discovered in a stairwell of the couple's mansion in Prato. These papers provide an insight not only into Francesco's business but also the merchant class in the fourteenth and fifteenth century.
He is buried in the church of San Francesco in Prato. His tomb marble slab was designed by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini. As he had no legitimate or male heirs, he left the bulk of his fortune to a charitable foundation established in his name, the "Casa del Ceppo dei poveri di Francesco di Marco."
- The Middle Ages: an Illustrated History. Barbara A. Hanawalt. Oxford University Press, New York, 1998. ISBN 0-19-510359-9
- M. M. Postan and Edward Miller (1987). The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Vol. II: Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages (2nd ed. ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 378–379. ISBN 0-521-08709-0.
- Cassandro, Michele (2013). "Francesco di Marco Datini: The Man, the merchant". In Giampiero Nigro. Aspects of the Life and Character of Francesco Di Marco Datini. Firenze: Firenze University Press-Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica. p. 56. ISBN 0879235969.
- James, Carolyn (2010). "A Woman's Work in a Man's World. The Letters of Margherita Datini (1348-1410)". In Giampiero Nigro. Aspects of the Life and Character of Francesco Di Marco Datini. Firenze: Firenze University Press-Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica. p. 56. ISBN 0879235969.
- John Reader,. Cities: A Magisterial Exploration of the Nature and Impact of the City from Its Beginnings to the Mega-Conurbations of Today. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-87113-898-0.
- Origo, Iris (1957). The Merchant of Prato. Oxford: Alden Press. p. 11. ISBN 0879235969.
- Franz-Josef Arlinghaus (2000): Zwischen Notiz und Bilanz. Zur Eigendynamik des Schriftgebrauchs in der kaufmännischen Buchführung am Beispiel der Datini/di Berto-Handlungsgesellschaft in Avignon (1367–1373), PhD, Münster 1996, Frankfurt (in part online).
- Joseph Patrik Byrne: Francesco Datini, „father of many“: piety, charity and patronage in early modern Tuscany, PhD 1989, Indiana University, Bloomington 1995.
- Joseph Patrik Byrne/Eleanor A. Congdon: Mothering in Casa Datini, in: Journal of Medieval History 25/1 (1999), pp 35–56.
- Elena Cecchi (1990): Le lettere di Francesco Datini alla moglie Margherita (1385–1410), Prato.
- Elena Cecchi Aste (2004): L'Archivio di Francesco di Marco Datini. Fondaco di Avignone. Inventario, Rome.
- Chatfield, Michael (1996): "Datini, Francesco de Marco (1335-1410". In History of Accounting: An International Encyclopedia, edited by Michael Chatfield and Richard Vangermeersch. New York: Garland Publishing, Pp. 187-188.
- Martin Malcolm Elbl (2007): From Venice to the Tuat: Trans-Saharan Copper Trade and Francesco di Marco Datini of Prato, in: Money, Markets and Trade in Late Medieval Europe: Essays in Honour of John H. A. Munro, Brill, Leiden, pp 411–459.
- Luciana Frangioni (1994): Milano fine Trecento. Il carteggio milanese dell’Archivio Datini di Prato, Opus libri, Florence.
- Hans-Jürgen Hübner/Ludolf Kuchenbuch (2004): Schrift, Geld und Zeit. Francesco Datinis Wechselbrief vom 18. 12. 1399 im Kontext seiner Buchhaltung, in: Alteuropäische Schriftkultur, Kurseinheit 5: Von der Bibel zur Bibliothek. Sieben Fallstudien zu Profil und Entwicklung der Schriftkultur im Mittelalter, FernUniversität Hagen, pp 115–137.
- Giampiero Nigro, ed. (2010): Francesco di Marco Datini: The Man, The Merchant. Florence: Firenze University Press—Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica "F. Datini".
- Giampiero Nigro (2003): Mercanti in Maiorca. Il carteggio datiniano dall'isola (1387–1396), Florence.
- Origo, Iris (1957): Merchant of Prato: Francesco di Marco Datini.
- Diana Toccafondi/Giovanni Tartaglione ed. (2002): Per la tua Margherita… Lettere di una donna del ’300 al marito mercante. Margherita Datini e Francesco di Marco 1384–1401, CD-ROM, Archivio di Stato di Prato, Prato.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Francesco di Marco Datini.|