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Law and History Study Group. Debt Recovery in the Later Middle Ages: Norms and Practice (Smail)

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Dan Smail

on 20 November 2014

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Transcript of Law and History Study Group. Debt Recovery in the Later Middle Ages: Norms and Practice (Smail)

Debt Recovery in the Later Middle Ages: Norms and Practice
Dan Smail
18 November 2014

Archivio di Stato di Lucca
Podestà di Lucca
33, fol. 7r
Pro Cione condam Guercii de Luca. Jannes Gilii, nuncius Lucanis comunis, retulit mihi Jacobo Binamontis, notario et cancellario Lucanis comunis, se die predicta predasse et in predam elevasse Landuccio condam Orlandi, vinatterio, Lucanis civi, pro solidis xl et expensis, unum mantellum persum ad usum domine foderatum sindonis coloris gialli et ipsum comendasse Becto Pieri, fabricaio, qui moratur coram palacio domini potestatis in persona eius presenti et volenti et eidem precepisse contra penam librarum xxv predictos pyngnos tenere tribus diebus secundum formam statutis et ipsis elapsis det et tradat eidem Cioni, faciendo eum confiteri in actis curie ipsum habuisse.
Die xvi Januarii suprascriptus Cione fuit confessus suprascripto Becto Pieri deponente [?] habuisse ab eo et penes se habere suprascriptum mantellum commendatum eodem Becto.
On behalf of Ciome, son of the late Guercio of Lucca, Gianni Gigli, a crier-sergeant of the commune of Lucca, reported to me, Jacobo Binamontis, notary and chancellor of the commune of Lucca, that on this day he plundered and seized in plunder from Landuccio, son of the late Orlando Vini, a citizen of Lucca, in repayment of a debt of 40s. and expenses, a deep blue woman’s cloak, lined with yellow muslin. He entrusted it personally to Betto Pieri, smith, who lives before the palazzo of the lord Podestà, present and willing, and ordered him, on penalty of a 25l. fine, to hold these items [sic] for three days, according to the letter of the statutes, and when the time has passed he should give and transmit the item to Ciome, requiring him to acknowledge in the acts of the court that he has received the item.

On the 16th of January, Ciome acknowledged to Betto Pieri ... that he holds and has in his power the above-mentioned cloak that had been entrusted to Betto.

Law and History Study Group
Die xii Jan[uarii]

Sample Text - Original
This entry records what is typically the final stage of the process of debt recovery, namely, the seizure of one or more objects from the house of the debtor so as to reimburse the creditor.
This is a follow-up entry recording a further stage in the process. These additional marginal notices appear alongside a certain number of entries, about 10 percent of the total.
Sample Text - Transcription
Sample Text - Translation
The 7th of January
Et quod vere predicti Guidus, Martinus, et Jacobus debent recipere sertas quantitates pecunie petitas et sic parati sunt et paratos se offerunt iurare corporaliter ad sancta dei evangelia tactis corporaliter scripturis se nominibus quibus super debere recipere legiptime et ex iusta causa sertas quantitates pecunie et predicta pignora bona fide vendere plus offerenti et residuum siquid erit dicto Johanni restituere infra octo dies secundum formam statuti. Quare suprascripti Cinellus dicto nomine et Martinus pro se et nomine quo supra petunt eis dari et concedi licentiam suprascripta pignora res et bona plus offerenti vendi et dari
Archivio di Stato di Lucca,
Curia dei Rettori
11, p. 289
A reference to statutory law in another instance of debt recovery (transcription)
And then, indeed, the said Guido, Martino, and Jacobo [the creditors] were owed a certain amount of money [as] pleaded, and therefore they appeared and, having appeared, consented to swear on the holy gospels of God, physically touching the scriptures, that they, acting in the names mentioned above, were owed, legitimately and from a just cause, a certain sum of money, and that they would sell the aforesaid plunder in good faith to the highest bidder and to restore the surplus, if there is any, to the said Giovanni [the debtor] within eight days, according to the letter of the statutes. Wherefore the aforementioned Cinello [a procurator for the creditor], acting in the name of said individual, and Martino for himself and for the name of the said individual, asked that a license be granted and conceded to them to sell and give the plunder to the highest bidder.
Archivio di Stato di Lucca,
Curia dei Rettori
11, p. 289
A reference to statutory law in another instance of debt recovery (translation)
Plunder seized from a debtor on January 18, 1333
Archivio di Stato di Lucca,
Podestà di Lucca
33, fol. 10r
Norms related to proscribed things
Two cartloads of red wine
A vat with a capacity of two cartloads
A chest
A storage bin
A mattress
A coverlet
A pair of bedsheets
A straw mattress
A woman's red tunic
Bongi, Bandi lucchese, p. 19
(This bando, or public cry, identifies several categories of objects that cannot be seized for the purpose of debt recovery. Bandi are similar to acts of legislation.)
"...no beast of burden either large or small, or of whatever kind, nor any bed, or bed furnishings, nor any iron tools or other things needed for work..."
Norms related to the fate of the plunder
Archivio di Stato di Lucca,
Podestà di Lucca 57
, fols. 21v-22r
26 September 1335

A set of clothing items was seized from a debtor named Savino Benetti and given directly to a creditor named Lemmo Catrignello.

(Note the lapse of time from the seizure to the outcome.)

5 December 1335
"After this, on the said day, 5 December, Savinus [the debtor] acknowledged to Lemmo [the creditor] that he had acquired and received from him all the aforementioned pledges and therefore this bail and plunder is canceled."
Practices related to proscribed things
Practices related to the fate of the plunder
Note how we can sometimes reconstruct the existence of statutes even when extant statutes are missing or mute.
Now consider this ruling as you read the act of plunder on the next page, which is fairly typical.
Norms related to the fate of the plunder
The expectation found in normative law is that the plunder seized during the course of debt recovery would be given first to a bailee (not mentioned here; it's mentioned in other texts), held for three days, then given over to the creditor, who as described here was required to sell it within eight days and restore the surplus to the debtor. In this case, procedure was followed. Read the following example in light of this procedural norm
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