There are many people whom we have to thank for their support and encouragement over the last seven years. The ledgers of Filippo Borromei and Company of Bruges and London, which lie at the centre of our research, are kept in the private archive of the Borromeo-Arese family on Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore, Piedmont, Italy (Archivio Borromeo dell’Isola Bella). We are extremely grateful to the family, and especially to principessa Bona Borromeo-Arese, for copyright permission to use material from the archive for research and publication and for allowing us to use the family coat of arms on this website. Nothing would have been accomplished without the generous and continuous help of the family archivist Carlo Alessandro Pisoni, a considerable scholar of the Borromeo-Arese family in his own right. In a very real way he has made the research project possible. Since from the very start it was intended that it would be computer-based, that we would create electronic database versions of the two ledgers, we are deeply indebted to three companies. Sage (UK) Ltd., of Newcastle upon Tyne, very kindly listened to a very strange telephone request and then put us in touch with one of their local agents, Aspirin Business Computers of Chadwell Heath, Romford, Essex. They usually handle modern accounting software but Fiona and Graham Jacobs looked at our fifteenth-century Italian material with great interest and enthusiasm and thought that, in essence, it differed little from modern double entry bookkeeping and that it would be possible to write a computer program to handle it. They put us in touch with their software company, Roundhouse Software Ltd., now of Winchester, and with Richard Stafford, then head of the company. He in turn assigned his senior programmer, Nigel Smith, to the task of creating a program that would create computer databases from Italian double-entry bookkeeping ledgers kept in money of account, that is pounds, shillings and pence. Nigel has worked as a third member of the research team for the last eight years, along with Jim Bolton and Francesco Guidi Bruscoli. He has written two sets of software for us, Roundhouse-Queen Mary Historic Accounts and Roundhouse-Queen Mary Historic Enquiry Tools and has patiently and with great good humour answered the frequent questions and pleas for help from two computer illiterates. We are also heavily indebted to Brian Place, Arts Computing Manager, Queen Mary , and to David Pick, John Steel and David Goddard of Central Computing Services, Queen Mary. Brian has helped us to set up and maintain our networks, David, John and David to install a server separate from the College network to host the databases, to allow distance access to them from Florence and then to create the Queen Mary Historical Research website now hosted on it. They too must have been wearied by our frequent questions but have never shown it.
Research Projects cost money and this was provided between 2000 and 2004 by a generous grant by the Economic and Social Research Council (Award Number R000239125). Our thanks are also due to The Westfield Trust, and to its secretary Brian Murphy, the retiring Director of Information Services at Queen Mary, to the History Department at Queen Mary and its successive Heads of Department, the former Vice Principal for the Humanities and Social Sciences Professor Philip Ogden (now senior Vice-Principal of the College) and his successor Professor Trevor Dadson. Individually and collectively they have provided from their resources the extra money needed for writing the analytical software, for the purchase of a server and for software maintenance and for the construction of this website (www.queenmaryhistoricalresearch.org). The enthusiastic support of Dr Virginia Davis, the former and current Head of our Department and of Professor Julian Jackson, who stood in for her for two years, and indeed of all our Departmental academic and administrative colleagues over the past seven years has been very much appreciated. So has the help given by Nigel Relph, Director of Corporate Affairs at Queen Mary, without which it would not have been possible to organise the conference on ‘Banking, credit and finance in late medieval and Renaissance Europe’, held at the College in September 2004.
In a wider context, the interest shown in the Project by Professors Richard Goldthwaite, Mavis Mate, Reinhold Mueller, Marco Spallanzani and Peter Spufford and by Dr Paul Brand and Dr Jennifer Ward has encouraged us to persist with it. We have also been grateful for the helpful criticisms of papers we have given at postgraduate seminars in London, Oxford, Cambridge and Greenwich; at the Economic History Society Conference held at the University of Durham in 2003; at the International Workshop on Money, Markets and Trade in Late Medieval Europe held in Toronto in March 2004, to mark the retirement of Professor John Munro; at our own Conference in September 2004; at the Economic History of the Low Countries before 1850 workshop held in Antwerp in November 2004; and at the International Economic History Congress at Helsinki in August 2006. Dr Martin Allen and his colleagues in the Coins and Medals Department at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge have answered many queries on European coinages with great good humour. Long lists of the names of account holders and others participating in the transactions of the Borromei Banks in both Bruges and London were circulated to Dr Linda Clark and Dr Hannes Kleineke of the History of Parliament Trust; Dr Matthew Davies, Director of the Centre for Metropolitan Studies, Institute of Historical Research, University of London; Dr Anne Sutton, historian of the Mercers’ Company of London; Professor Caroline Barron of Royal Holloway, University of London; Professor Dr Peter Stabel of the University of Antwerp; Dr Kurt Weissen, formerly of the University of Basel and now of the University of Heidelberg; and Dr David Kusman of the Free University of Brussels. They were able to provide us with proper versions of many of the mangled names of English, Flemish, Dutch and German individuals and companies found in the ledgers. Other historians have come across references to the Borromei family and their banks during the course of their own research and have passed these on to us. This academic co-operation has been one of the most pleasant and rewarding parts of our research programme.
Finally, the long-suffering members of the Friday evening Late Medieval Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, our other friends and our families have had to endure the Borromei Banks for the last seven years or more, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to them. The advice and help we have received has been extraordinary. The mistakes we have made are all our own.
Professor Jim Bolton, History Department, Queen Mary, University of London.
Dr Francesco Guidi Bruscoli, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Università
degli Studi di Firenze and History Department, Queen Mary, University of London.