"In the late Middle Ages a constellation of groups shared the commercial spaces of Mediterranean cities. These groups were either formally defined (as the trading nations of Venice, Genoa, Catalonia, Ancona, Naples, Florence, Montpellier, etc.), or were based on ethnic and religious affiliation (as Copts, Cretan Jews, Greek Orthodox, Jacobites, or Mudéjar Muslims). In either case, to different degrees, these groups cooperated with each other by working together in commonly shared networks. By monitoring a whole merchant community instead of single groups through a serial, homogeneous documentation and a coherent methodology, this project will produce a comprehensive and consistent research of the generally accepted social norms and institutional forces that governed business cooperation in a Mediterranean complex environment (Alexandria, Egypt), and accompanied its major transformations. These dynamic and complex relations will be addressed in an empirical manner, by observing the economic networks encoded in one of the by-products of Mediterranean commercial culture: the outre-mer notaries and their registers. Unlike most documentary evidence from European archives, overseas notaries provide a multi-lateral picture of the activities of this heterogeneous community, and particularly, show cooperation and interaction between individuals of different origins. This is a history project with an important technology dimension, and notarial data will be analysed through a pioneering database model and its web-based application."
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