Abstract

Notarial culture permeated all aspects of social life in late medieval Italy, including dispute settlement. This article examines the notarial acts produced to settle conflicts and make peace outside of a court in the city and countryside of Bologna. Through their offer of legal expertise and an array of contract options (namely, the instrumenta conpromissi transactionis, arbitrii, laudi, and pacis et concordie) notaries facilitated reconciliations made by private citizens and contadini as well as Bologna's signore, Taddeo Pepoli, and the men of his dominant Scacchese faction. The trail of contracts demonstrates how Taddeo Pepoli orchestrated his rise to power through peace acts and arbitrations, and after he was declared lord of his allies—university professors linked to him through marriage and Scaccese officials—continued as arbiters and hosts for peace acts. While the elite had arbitrators for political purposes, commoners and women used simple contracts without arbitration for family matters, often dowry and inheritance. The most common contract was the pax, which at times ended feuds and vendetta, but was more frequently used to release assailants from criminal bann after personal assault. Notaries—common witnesses and proxies for parties in all types of settlement—were essential components to power and justice.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 733-760
Launched on MUSE
2009-03-21
Open Access
No
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