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8. Palermo in the 14th–15th Century: Urban Economy and Trade

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Chapter Summary

It was the paradoxical fate of Palermo in the last centuries of the middle ages to be a political capital abandoned by the monarchy but bolstered economically by the stability, and latterly by the revival, of income from land. The rapid development of the capital, which by 1070 had attained to the dimensions it would retain until the 18th century, namely, 200 hectares, owed everything to the residence of the Kalbids, and latterly the Hauteville. The presence of the royal Hotel was ephemeral, coinciding with major political events, coronations and parliaments. The conjuncture of the 14th and 15th centuries was marked by a long downwards trend which was not interrupted until around 1450: the yield from the urban gabelles, of which we have very intermittent knowledge through receipts registered in the presence of a notary, enables to plot a rough curve combining the various facets of the urban economy.

Keywords: Hauteville; Kalbids; Palermo; urban gabelles



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