In the last twenty years, anthropologists, archivists, and historians have dedicated increased attention to the study of archives as objects of research themselves. In so doing, scholars have predominantly examined the emergence and transformations of archives during the early modern age, focusing mostly on political and diplomatic depositories. They have tended to neglect financial archives, which is unfortunate, as—alongside judicial archives—they were probably the largest documentary repositories of the pre-modern world and those that first faced the problem of managing huge masses of documentation. This article discusses the formation and development of the Kingdom of Sicily’s financial archives in the later Middle Ages, arguing that this repository evolved into a collecting archive by the early fifteenth-century, when it preserved not only the records and accounts produced by the central financial administration, but also those from a number of territorial officers and magistracies. This archival turn, I suggest, originated from the fact that the Crown of Aragon’s rulers constantly needed increased incomes to fund bureaucracies and warfare and exercise patronage, and thus needed financial information organized, at hand, and under their control. After briefly discussing the emergence of the financial archive in the thirteenth-century, this essay traces the Crown’s attempts to create a stable repository for storing financial records and accounts and its continuous struggles to prevent documentation from being scattered and dispersed. Finally, it examines the successful strategy that King Alfonso V of Aragon (1416–58), called the Magnanimous, pursued to organize financial documentation and concentrate records and accounts produced by financial administration into a stable building. The essay pays particular attention to the material aspects of preserving records, e.g., the restoration of buildings, construction of chests, and preparation of secure locks that were integral to the emergence of collecting archives for financial documents in the later Middle Ages.

‘Swine at the chancery and locks to chests: dispersal, destruction), and accumulation of the Kingdom of Sicily's financial archives (1100-1500)

SILVESTRI A
2022-01-01

Abstract

In the last twenty years, anthropologists, archivists, and historians have dedicated increased attention to the study of archives as objects of research themselves. In so doing, scholars have predominantly examined the emergence and transformations of archives during the early modern age, focusing mostly on political and diplomatic depositories. They have tended to neglect financial archives, which is unfortunate, as—alongside judicial archives—they were probably the largest documentary repositories of the pre-modern world and those that first faced the problem of managing huge masses of documentation. This article discusses the formation and development of the Kingdom of Sicily’s financial archives in the later Middle Ages, arguing that this repository evolved into a collecting archive by the early fifteenth-century, when it preserved not only the records and accounts produced by the central financial administration, but also those from a number of territorial officers and magistracies. This archival turn, I suggest, originated from the fact that the Crown of Aragon’s rulers constantly needed increased incomes to fund bureaucracies and warfare and exercise patronage, and thus needed financial information organized, at hand, and under their control. After briefly discussing the emergence of the financial archive in the thirteenth-century, this essay traces the Crown’s attempts to create a stable repository for storing financial records and accounts and its continuous struggles to prevent documentation from being scattered and dispersed. Finally, it examines the successful strategy that King Alfonso V of Aragon (1416–58), called the Magnanimous, pursued to organize financial documentation and concentrate records and accounts produced by financial administration into a stable building. The essay pays particular attention to the material aspects of preserving records, e.g., the restoration of buildings, construction of chests, and preparation of secure locks that were integral to the emergence of collecting archives for financial documents in the later Middle Ages.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4813168
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