Medieval Notaries And Their Acts (Kathryn L. Reyerson) pdf, epub, doc

The book is intended as an introduction to medieval notary registers as a source of historic information. As such, there is an extensive but easily accessible introduction explaining the context and purpose of notaries in medieval society (and how it differed between northern and southern Europe). In particular, it focuses on the notaries of France and Italy, who were a combination of public para-legals — composing and creating legal documents for ordinary people, using their specialized knowledge of the proper formats and phrases for each purpose — and the equivalent of the modern notary public, serving as an authenticating body for legal instruments.

The "register" was a collection of the initial short-hand drafts that the notary composed and from which were produced the final fully fleshed-out documents that the clients took away with them. As such, the details of the text are sometimes glossed with "et cetera" where the notary would fill in the necessary phrases and details from knowledge and memory and had no need to write them out in full for the initial draft kept in the register. (A practice that makes legal historians gnash their teeth.) But the details that are provided are fascinating, whether you want to trace the existence and relationships of the specific people involved or want to know the shapes of everyday legal transactions.

40 documents are given in translation, with commentary and notes explaining the context and details. They range from business deals (buying and selling, loans, transport contracts), to employment relationships (including apprenticeships), to the contracting and settlement of debts, to the various contracts and arrangements around marriages and inheritance, and, of course, real estate transactions of various kinds.

Sample: An apprenticeship contract

14 October 1327

In the year and on the day aforesaid, I, Johannes Petri, furrier of Montpellier, bestow and contract in work and in study my daughter Cecilia to you, Cecilia, wife of the late Bernardus Berengarii, grain merchant of Montpellier, present, namely: from today for four years etc. to work with you and to do and learn your trade of spinning, hammering, and embossing gold and to do all your other legitimate and honest biddings for the entire said time. Moreover, you, promising etc. by reason of the standing agreement between me and you, ought and are held to teach faithfully to my said daughter your said trade designated above. And in addition you ought and are held to give and pay me, receiving for her, 10 s.t. in each year of four years at the feast of the birth of the Lord, and thus I promise etc. For which etc. I obligate etc. myself and all my present and future property. I renounce etc. I promise through faith etc.

And consequently, etc. I , said Cecilia .... [there is a blank space where we would expect to see the mirror image of what Cecilia contracts to perform and expects to receive]

Witnesses: Durantus Belfort, tailor, Guillelmus Michaelis, gardener of said place, and I etc.

(There's an interesting contrast between this contract and the apprenticeship contract that precedes it. In the other, the apprentice is to be provided with food, clothing, shoes, and "all his other necessities" but no money changes hands. In Cecilia's contract, she is not promised any material goods but her father is paid what must have been a wage for her. Perhaps Cecilia lived at home during her apprenticeship and thus was supplied with her necessities by her father?)

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