Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Renaissance History
Competition: US & Canada
William Caferro teaches medieval European history at Vanderbilt University. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he attended James Madison High School. He received his bachelor’s degree from Haverford College in 1984 (with a history major at Bryn Mawr College) and his Ph.D from Yale University in 1992. From 1984 to 1987, he taught high school mathematics in New York City and Connecticut. At Yale, Caferro studied Greek and Latin Patristics with Professors Jaroslav Pelikan and John Boswell, and economic history with Professor Harry Miskimin.
Caferro specializes in the history of medieval and Renaissance Italy, with emphasis on economic developments. He has written about banking, public finance, warfare, ritual, historiography, and Dante. He is interested also in the intersection of religion and economy, literature and history, and medieval notions of ethnicity (particularly with regard to Englishmen and Germans in Italy). His Guggenheim project examines the economic and cultural effects of warfare on Italy during the era of the Black Death.
Caferro is author of Mercenary Companies and the Decline of Siena (1998) and John Hawkwood, English Mercenary in Fourteenth Century Italy (2006). He is co-author of The Spinelli: Fortunes of a Renaissance Family (2001) and co-editor of The Unbounded Community: Papers in Christian Ecumenism in Honor of Jaroslav Pelikan (1996). His articles have appeared in The Journal of Economic History, Renaissance Studies, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, and The Journal of Modern History, among others. His recent book, Contesting the Renaissance (2010), traces the meaning and use of the term “Renaissance” in the major debates of the historiography.