68. Libro d’arte della mercatura

Malta National Library
Cotrugli Libr., cod. XV
SENDER: Benedetto Cotrugli

In spite of the comparative (and relative) popularity of Pacioli’s Somma, this work by Benedetto Cotrugli is generally considered the first recorded description of the system for double-entry bookkeeping. Born in Ragusa, Dalmatia, Cotrugli was a lawyer, merchant and scholar who also frequented the humanist circles of the Neapolitan court of Alfonso V of Aragon, where he produced texts on marriage (De uxore ducenda, now lost) and seafaring and cosmography (De navigatione). They are both closely related to his Libro d’arte della mercatura, a comprehensive descriptive and normative approach to the practice of trade and the figure of the merchant, whom he deems to be a fundamental civic agent living and operating in two different but nevertheless closely related worlds. One is the private realm of the family, which constitutes the heart of the business as well as the emotional centre of the merchant’s life. The other realm revolves around the overseas communication and transportation networks which are so essential for the conduct of trade.

(José María Pérez Fernández)