Brokers of Public Trust: Notaries in Early Modern Rome by Laurie Nussdorfer

By Laurie Nussdorfer

A fast-growing criminal process and economic system in medieval and early sleek Rome observed a swift raise within the desire for written files. agents of Public belief examines the emergence of the fashionable notarial occupation -- unfastened marketplace scribes answerable for generating unique felony records and their copies.Notarial acts usually move left out, yet they're necessary to realizing the historical past of writing practices and attitudes towards reliable documentation. in response to new archival study, agents of Public belief makes a speciality of the govt officers, notaries, and shoppers who regulated, wrote, and acquired notarial records in Rome among the 14th and 18th centuries. Historian Laurie Nussdorfer chronicles the learning notaries and the development of public data, explaining why notarial records exist, who made them, and the way they got here to be considered as authoritative facts. In doing so, Nussdorfer describes a occupation of an important value to the folk and govt of the time, in addition to to students who flip to notarial records as necessary and irreplaceable ancient assets. This magisterial new paintings brings clean perception into the fundamental features of early smooth Roman society and the advance of the trendy country.

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But the opinion prevailed that if the testator had nodded his agreement, the notary had done no wrong, nor should he be prosecuted unless the will as a whole had been invalidated. A second, and thornier, problem was how notaries represented the act of paying in cash in their instruments. Was the notary guilty of falsum if he said the money was counted out ( pecunia numerata ) when it had been handed over but not counted, or counted but not in his presence, or counted and handed over but immediately returned?

Was there a di√erence, other than of employment, between Capitoline notaries and Roman notaries more generally in the sixteenth century? If there was, it is not one that available sources allow us to detect with any certainty. But even to use the phrase ‘‘Roman notaries more generally’’ is to beg the question of how one defined a Roman notary: by birth or by the acquisition of Roman citizenship and property, as the notarial statutes had allowed since at least 1446? ∞π When I use the term Capitoline notaries in reference to the period before the Sistine intervention of 1586, therefore, I mean a broadly inclusive ‘‘notaries of Rome,’’ which after 1507 carries the added connotation of the city of Rome as opposed to the Roman Curia.

In comparison to the penitent debtor imagined by ius commune, the Capitoline tribunal practiced a rougher justice. ∞∑≤ The statutes extended the same privileges to scrip- 30 Brokers of Public Trust tura privata, if it was supported by the oral testimony of three witnesses or by handwriting analysis. Once evidence was formally admitted, municipal law authorized judges to act on it (executio ) with dispatch. ∞∑≥ This was as close to ‘‘ready execution’’ as anyone could wish—indeed, far too close for the comfort of Peto and Fenzonio.

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