Institutional Archives and the Preservation of Family Records in Early Medieval Italy

Saturday, January 5, 2019: 3:30 PM
Water Tower Parlor (Palmer House Hilton)
Marios Costambeys, University of Liverpool
Institutional archives and the preservation of family records in early medieval Italy

Marios Costambeys, University of Liverpool

The archives of medieval Italian monasteries and bishoprics include to this day many documentary records that have little or nothing to do with the institution in which they have survived. These documents entered the hands of those institutions either as parts of dossiers that included documents dealing with properties that the institution had acquired or because their owners had deposited them there for safe-keeping and not retrieved them. Their preservation and, in some cases, re-use raises questions about the life-cycles of documentary records – the lengths of time across which they remained useful to their owners – which will here be addressed by examining documents associated with the Da Gorgo and Gandolfingi families preserved in the archives of the bishop and a handful of monasteries in Piacenza. It will be argued that consciousness of the ability of archives to shape memories of property tenure is a neglected but potentially significant tool in families’ power strategies.

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