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Illuminating The Dark Century: Notarial Evidence On Bolognas Civic Life

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Chapter Summary

The people revealed in the Memoriali and Demaniale, the subjects of this book, were living during the worst period of what Italian historians call Bologna's "black century" (secolo nero). The popular commune ruled with the support and administration of notaries, who had so much power in thirteenth-century Bologna that it has been called a "Republic of notaries". This chapter seeks to illuminate life during the mid fourteenth century by demonstrating continuity from the thirteenth century and arguing against severe economic decline in the first half of the fourteenth century. It presents both a diachronic and synchronic analysis of life in late medieval Bologna. The chapter briefly examines the urban development of Bologna during the thirteenth century. Other extraordinary people revealed in the testaments are the ruling Pepoli, the family that gave Bologna its first signoria, marking Bologna's transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Keywords: civic life; medieval Bologna; mid fourteenth century; Pepoli; Renaissance



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