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The Virtues of EconomyGovernance, Power, and Piety in Late Medieval Rome$
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James A. Palmer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501742378

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501742378.001.0001

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Living and Dying Together

Living and Dying Together

Testamentary Practice in Fourteenth-Century Rome

(p.71) Chapter 3 Living and Dying Together
The Virtues of Economy

James A. Palmer

Cornell University Press

This chapter analyzes the testamentary record of fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century Rome, highlighting several noteworthy elements. Romans understood pious giving to be spiritually beneficial, as did all their contemporaries. However, they understood this kind of beneficial gift to be viable even outside the traditional categories of pious practice, stretching to include kin of all sorts, as well as a whole array of others with whom they shared important ties. In all such cases, the implication of the gift as an act of patrimonial stewardship and as occurring within the larger spiritual economy were equally critical elements, shaping the direction and form of giving. Over the course of the conflict-ridden fourteenth century, in which the social fabric of Rome was repeatedly torn and haphazardly stitched back together again, Roman testators took advantage of a lack of statutory constraint to bind themselves to one another by means of such pious gifts. Even after the return of the papacy, an event anticipated and dreaded by various factions, and the triumph of that papacy over Rome's free commune, these bonds and the mechanisms for creating and sustaining these bonds endured.

Keywords:   Rome, Romans, pious giving, pious gifts, patrimonial stewardship, spiritual economy, Roman testators, papacy

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