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Francesco Datini
di Marco

Francesco di Marco Datini: the merchant of Prato

Intelligence and open-mindedness made Francesco di Marco Datini become the symbol of Prato's boldness. His audacity and value in business management along with special benefactor endowment made him an extraordinary merchant model at the beginning of the Renaissance.

He was born in Prato around 1335 in a unpretentious home. His parents died during the 1348 plague and Francesco after learning the rudiments in the workshops of Florence, moved to Avignon where he worked up to 1382.
After moving back to his home town with his wife Margherita Bandini, he founded a holding company constituted by a company of capitals in Avignon, Florence, Pisa, Genoa, Barcelona, Valencia and Palma de Majorca.

He lived in Prato where he built his gorgeous palace and in Florence where the Company's headquarters were located.
He became always more richer and well respected, dealer of miscellaneous merchandise, wheat, wool, leather, clothing and valuable goods; in Prato he founded a wool mill and a dye house and in Florence a banking company. He had a worthy and friendly relationship with famous people, among which Francesco Gonzaga, Cardinal Pietro d'Ailly, Leonardo Dandolo, ambassador of Venice and King Luigi II d'Angiò. Datini also built the Villa del Palco in Filettole. He died on the 16th of August 1410 after arranging the institution of the "Ceppo dei poveri di Francesco di Marco", currently known as the Casa Pia dei Ceppi, to which he left all his belongings estimated over 100.000 gold florins.

Palazzo Datini that is still premises and property of the charitable institution, represents a rare example of the late-gothic laic building, with facades fresco painted after his death; in the rooms on the ground fl oor in the Museo Casa Francesco Datini you can admire the wonderful painting apparatus ordered by the merchant.

The State Archives, where the merchant's precious documentary fund is conserved, are located in the palace: 1193 items, from 1361 to 1411, a massive collection of approximately 150.000 letters.

This is a unique worldwide evidence of the merchandising, industrial and banking activity of a merchant during the second half of the fourteenth century.
Among the many charity activities, Datini was particularly close to San Francesco's monks.
His tombstone made by Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti is in that church.

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