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The Castellany Accounts of Late-Medieval Savoy: a Source-Oriented Approach (2013-2014)

Field of study: Medieval History

This article focuses on a corpus of late-medieval documents, the fiscal accounts (computi) of the castellanies, or territorial-administrative units, of the principality of Savoy. Its aim is to shed new light on the possibilities for interpreting the data of the computi. Because of their wealth of detail about institutional reform and socio-economic trends, the Savoyard castellany accounts represent an extraordinary source for medievalists. And yet, although significant contributions in the last two decades have advanced our understanding of institutional reform and societal change in late-medieval Savoy, the computi must still be ranked among the least
explored medieval manuscripts.1 In part this is due to the sheer volume of the evidence and the history of its archival conservation in the twentieth century. But in my opinion the underlying cause of this neglect has to do with the challenge of devising an interpretive framework that makes the most of the primary data. This involves analyzing the manuscripts’ structure and internal logic in conjunction with the institutional practices based on them, and tracing the effects of the institutional reforms on both the political designs of the House of Savoy and the socio-economic life of local communities. This exploratory essay addresses itself precisely to this task.

Keywords: medieval manuscripts, computi, House of Savoy

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