A privilege granted to a Florentine gentleman named Tommaso Baroncelli is documented on an English parchment dated November 16, 1564. In addition to being a banker, he had other business dealings with numerous Florentine families, particularly in Flanders, where he relocated and married Chiara Gualterotti, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. In England, he engaged in a variety of businesses, including those involving salt, which has long been an essential food source. The hall we see on our tables or “refined” required a specific form of processing, that is, it had to evaporate and then be washed in other special tanks before being evaporated again. The end product or crystals were carried on ships and arrived at the port or shopping center, proceeded on the back of mules or barked on the rivers. Clearly, every time the various states passed, counties or Ducati had to pay a duty in addition to what was required at the city entrances. How many times have we heard the phrase “that a price is salty” or “dear as salt”? In the financial world, the current paycheck is also known as “salary”. Salt has always been a source of life; we think of it as a way to preserve food or utilize it in various recipes; in ancient religions, it was used in sacrifices; and in Christianity, it was used to purify and disinfect the mouths of the baptized. Jesus personally tells the disciples that he is the “salt of the earth”. The expression “have salt in pumpkin” (synonymous with knowledge) is sometimes used in conversation; when it falls on the table or on the ground, it brings ill luck because of the large cost of the different procedures for processing and delivery. The same words with the root (Sal) derived from Latin as: Hi (wish good health), salus (health), salami (salt), and salad. But the most expensive salt was the refined salt, which was beaten in mortars to become an end, almost impalpable type dust, so all the various work phases up. The successive work phases up to the final one were extremely expensive, particularly the refined one, which cost seven times as much as what was found in the various markets. Our Tommaso Baroncelli traded this form of salt, which was highly valued in European courts, so much so that Queen Elizabeth I awarded Baroncelli a decree allowing him to establish “the art of refinement and white salt in England, like that of Florence”. Not only that, but it makes him a “English citizen” and permits him to be the only one for 20 years who can treat the salgemma in the “refined” manner in all English properties. And the Florentine people laughed, or perhaps enviously wrote a tiny song against the enrichite.
“Il sale delle moie di Volterra,
piacque sì a Elisabetta d’Inghilterra,
che diè licenza a Maso Baroncelli
di farlo bianco e fine né pestelli.”
The salt of the Moie di Volterra, likes yes to Elisabetta of England, who is a license to Maso Baroncelli to do it white and end neither Pestelli.
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