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Banking on Italy

The third largest bank of modern day Italy is established this year and will remain in continuous operation. The name of the bank is "Monte dei Pietà" which means "Mountain of Pity" or Lamentation. The bank has since changed its name to "Monte dei Paschi di Siena" [mon-tay day pas-kee dee see-EN-ah] (MPS). It is located in Siena which is under the influence of Florence. In another 5 years or so, the political situation in Siena will become so chaotic, the city will opt for a dictatorship. Florence will come under a single ruler shortly thereafter. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
"Mountain of Pity" is not the best name for a bank, but it is probably a religious reference to the death of Jesus. It would make sense to the people of the time and reassure the locals of the piety of the management. These days (October 2014) the bank is under a cloud. According to the "stress test" required by the European Central Bank (ECB), the bank is overextended in loans. Too many loans means they are vulnerable to a wide-spread downturn in the economy. When people are out of work or go out of business, they cannot pay what they owe you. This is a normal part of business but if one is too far out on the limb when that happens, the branch breaks and you go down with your customers. The bank's shares fell 20% on the recent news. [4] [5]

Leonardo Joins an Artists Guild

Leonardo da Vinci joins the Guild of Artists of Florence. This is quite a feat since he is only 22 years old. This is also the time when he will begin such works as "The Baptism of Christ" with his teacher, Andrea del Verrocchio. Many paintings of the day were collaborative works with pupils painting backgrounds and minor characters in a scene or taking on extra work that the master didn't have time for. At this point Leonardo is definitely doing the grunt work. If he wants to strike out on his own he must be a member of the guild. Of course it costs money to join and it's not so much that the guild gets you work, but that NOT being in the guild definitely locks you out of work. [6] [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Renaissance artists are praised for their marvelous work, and their work is marvelous. It's also work. There are no photographs so people commission artists to produce sculptures and especially portraits. It's considered a job like a wedding photographer is today! It you want a mail-order bride from a baron hundreds of miles away, and you don't want to travel, you commission an artist to travel the distance and paint the portrait of your potential bride. He brings it back so that you can make sure you aren't being slipped her ugly step-sister. And you make sure it's YOUR MONEY paying for the artist. Otherwise, like a dating site, the picture may bear no resemblance to the actual person. For those worried about equality of the sexes... yes... women sent artists to paint the portrait of potential husbands.

1st Printed Book on Astronomy

Johannes de Sacrobosco [sack row BOSS koh] figured out how to fix the Julian calendar, but no one noticed. Nevertheless, his books will be required reading for a basic introduction to astronomy for the next 200 years. [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It's not clear to me why no one paid attention to his ideas for fixing the Julian calendar. It probably derives from the fact that he didn't come to the attention of the people who needed to know.... like the Pope who set the calendar.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1472, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Official Site (2014). About us. Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank. Retrieved on 21 November 2014. “Monte dei Paschi di Siena is one of the main banks in Italy. It is the flagship of the MPS Group, which is a leader on the domestic market in terms of market share. Monte dei Paschi, familiarly called “il Monte,” was founded in 1472 under the auspices of the Republic of Siena.”
  2. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  3. (1953) A History of Civilization in Italy from 1304-1576 A.D., The Story Of Civilization. New York: Simon and Schuster, 83-85. ISBN 9781567310160. “"[Cosimo de' Medici's] loans to influential families won or forced their support; his gifts to the clergy enlisted their enthusiastic aid; and his public benefactions, of unprecedented scope and generosity, easily reconciled the citizens to his rule. [...] If the populace had to choose between the Albizzi, who favored the rich, and the Medici, who favored the middle classes and the poor, it could not long hesitate. A people oppressed by its economic masters, and weary of faction, welcomed dictatorship in Florence in 1434, in Perugia in 1389, in Bologna in 1401, in Siena in 1477, in Rome in 1347 and 1922."” 
  4. European Central Bank - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  5. Dion, Don (October 28, 2014). Stressful Times For Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena: Investors Should Look Elsewhere. Seeking Alpha. Retrieved on 21 November 2014. “Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena dismally flunked the stress test with a $2.6bn capital shortfall. This represents a reduced capital amount of almost a third. [...] Shares of BMPS fell over 20% on Monday, following this news.”
  6. Guild of Saint Luke - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  7. Leonardo da Vinci: Verrocchio's workshop - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  8. In the Company of Painters - Leonardo Da Vinci. NetPlaces.com (2014). Retrieved on 24 November 2014. “For Leonardo, joining the Company of Painters was a big deal. While he kept working out of his master's studio, enrollment in the guild gave him a higher status and enabled him to receive commissions both individually and as part of the guild. But the honor of belonging to a guild certainly didn't come free. The guild's record books show that Leonardo was behind on his dues at least once.”
  9. The Baptism of Christ (Verrocchio) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 24 November 2014.
  10. Johannes de Sacrobosco - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  11. De sphaera mundi - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.

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