This contribution considers the spectacular rise of Bonnore Olivier, first as a Genoese merchant within the commercial setting of Bruges, the outstanding gateway market of the late medieval period, then within the financial administration of the Burgundian duke Philip the Good. Even though his life can be considered as a variation on the theme of the public servant/parvenu, so common within the ranks of the Burgundian State, his career surpassed the level of the mere exemplary case-study. His activities as a princely tax collector, touching upon aspects of daily life as diverse as suicide, ennoblements, international trade and the legal status of bastards, resulted from an unprecedented fiscal centralisation within the Burgundian territories. Apart from an illustration of the increasing grip of the central government on the life of its subjects, Bonnore Olivier’s case also highlights the contemporary relations and tensions between public and private office, the gentrification of the merchant class and the social position of a foreigner within a medieval world market.
- Middle Ages