In 1400’s Italy the only source of Iron ore other than expensive Spanish imported Iron ore was from the island of Elba (between Italy and the island of Corsica). The mines on Elba were owned by several princes and lords, who would sell the ore to a group of merchants. This group of merchants would have sales territories between them, and sell it to local smelters on the mainland. The reason the merchants did not just smelt it themselves is because there was not enough timber on the island. I don’t know yet why they didn’t trade to get Iron from places like France and Germany.
Volterraio ( Elba ). Rocks co
ntaining iron. Deutsch: Volterraio ( Elba ). Eisenhaltiges Gestein. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)