Antonio Guidotti, an Italian merchant and diplomat born in Florence in 1492, moved with his two brothers to Southampton in the early years of the 16th century. The brothers had a thriving trading business, importing wines and other luxury items from Europe and exporting English wool. Antionio integrated well in the local business and social community, and in c.1520 married Dorothy Huttoft, daughter of Henry Huttoft, twice mayor of Southampton. In the mid 1530s Guidotti suffered massive business failures and fled abroad to escape his debtors. On his return to England he spent more than a year in a debtors’ prison, being eventually released in 1542.
His business career in ruins, he turned his hand to diplomacy, exploiting the contacts he had made when a merchant. His successful negotiations between England and France in 1549-50 earned him a knighthood from Edward VI. He eventually returned to Florence and died there in 1555.

Further reading:
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Volume 24.
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, p242. (HS/h)
Italian Merchants and Shipping in Southampton, 1270-1600, by Alwyn Ruddock. (HS/h)
Antonio Guidotti, by Alwyn Ruddock from the Hampshire Field Club Proceedings, Volume 15.


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