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Social Stratification and Professional Groups

Toward a Growing Polarization
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Abstract

Any attempt to define the social stratification of an early modern city like Milan is extremely complex. The rich professional data provided by the Status Animarum of 1576 and 1610 can only partially help as they are often confusing and difficult to classify.1 The more than five hundred different professional denominations, rarely defined clearly and sometimes impossible to decipher, hide a variety of social and economic connotations. The qualification of someone who “works wool” can refer to either the common wool worker or the wealthy merchant, the owner of a wool workshop. Individuals like Gerolamo Zavarelli, one of the major dealers of jewels and bankers at the turn of the sixteenth century, were sometimes recorded as goldsmiths. The usually modest makers and retailers of bread, as well as the owners of some of the city bakeries, often large and profitable enterprises, shared the qualification of baker.2 However, while this important quantitative source is unable to highlight the innumerable shades and variations that characterized the urban social structures, it can still provide a useful classification of the Milanese population by productive sectors (see table 2.1). At the very least, this kind of scheme offers the possibility of organizing the available data and obtaining a great deal of information on the urban crafts and the relevance of different economic sectors in the most prosperous years of Spanish rule.

Keywords

Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Single Woman Urban Poor Wool Cloth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    On the complex interpretation and organization of these data, see Stefano D’Amico, Le contrade e la città. Sistema produttivo e spazio urbano a Milano fra Cinque e Seicento (Milan: Franco Angeli, 1994), 61–3.Google Scholar
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