Power through Peace: Peacemaking and Jurisdiction in Trecento Siena’s Contado
Peace accords were increasingly used in the late 13th and early 14th centuries to halt judicial proceedings, lessen fines and lift judicial sentences. This same period also witnessed determined attempts by Italian communes to expand their jurisdiction over the surrounding countryside (the contado) and its towns and independent magnate families. In this paper I use archival material from Siena, including the records of the denunciations made before the podesta's judges, peace accords from the notarial registers, and rebannimentumpetitions (petitions to lift the criminal ban) to examine the conjunction of these two areas.
This paper addresses several questions about how peacemaking was used in the contado: How did the frequency of peacemaking vary for the severity fo crime committed? When in the process was peacemaking employed? And did this vary by offenses? In cases that resulted in sentences of banishment, how much time intervened before peacemaking ocurrede? How else was peacemaking used, other than for presentation to communal officials?
I show that the use of peace accords to eliminate nearly the entire fine for most crimes made the extension of jurisidiction palatable, while also providing a mechanism for contado comunities to handle large-scale violence that threatened them. The sources reveal a variety of forces at work to promote peacemaking, both local and Sienese, both secular and ecclesiastic.
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