Guido Alfani

Research Projects


The goal of SMITE is to improve our knowledge of long-term trends in social mobility, from the decades immediately preceding the Black Death of 1347-49 up until the eve of Industrialization. The objective is not only to measure mobility, but also to understand its consequences for the economy and society at large. Very few data about preindustrial social mobility are available today, especially for southern Europe. SMITE will collect an extensive database about social mobility, measured in different ways including: economic mobility across wealth classes and occupational mobility. Archival research will be concentrated on Italy where excellent sources exist, but the Italian case will be placed in the wider European context. The few existing databases from all over the continent will be collected for comparison and direct research will be done on some regions of Europe beyond Italy, especially in France, Spain and the Low Countries.


The aim of EINITE is to clarify the dynamics of economic inequality in Europe from the late Middle Ages through the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Very little data about economic inequality during such an early period is available today and what is usually involves only single years and/or small areas (usually only one city or village). This project changes this situation entirely by building an extensive database of economic inequality, mainly of wealth (for which better documentation exists) and focusing on Italy from a wider European perspective. Most of the data come from new archival research on Medieval and Early Modern sources. While the project covers systematically the whole of the Italian peninsula, selected areas of Europe are also researched, starting with England, France, the Low Countries and Spain. Furthermore, published data and existing databases from all over the continent are collected for comparison.