This book breaks new ground by focusing on the Florentine "super-companies" of the early fourteenth century in their own right. Theauthor closely examines the Peruzzi Company in particular, describ-ing its ownership, family connections, scope of business, organiza-tion structure, accounting systems, and its history from 1300 to itsdissolution in bankruptcy court in 1347.From this analysis, the author offers a radical reassessment of thenature and role of these extraordinary organizations. He establishesthat although they engaged in all forms of commerce in substantialvolume, what made them exceptional was commodity trading, espe-cially in grain, which they conducted on a heroic scale. It was thisactivity that required heavy capital, sophisticated organization, andan international network. But the author also exposes the limitationsof their financial power and explodes the myth that their downfallwas caused mainly by bad loans to Edward III to finance his invasionsof France.This book is much more than a business history. It presents theoperations of these companies in the context of the swiftly movingpolitical, military, and economic developments in Florence, the Medi-terranean, and western Europe during a tumultuous period.