Modern History: The Pre-History of Capital

Remarkable new historical study of wealth holding in Europe since the Middle Ages.


Tracking wealth holding in Italian city states since 1300 produces results which segue perfectly with PiIketty’s data for the Napoleonic period. By end of the 1700s 70 % plus of all wealth was held by top 10 %.

Interestingly, Alfani recognizes that the only previous studies of this question are owed to Marxist literature, but then struggles to find a bridge between financial measures of income and wealth and the categories of class employed by earlier Marxist literature. Alfani like Piketty distinguishes aristocratic from non-aristocratic wealth. But can one take it further than that? For Alfani, working at Bocconi, its already a major and commendable stretch. But this must be a crucial direction for future work.

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