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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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For the Benefit of Souls

For the Benefit of Souls

Chapels, Virtue, and Justice

(p.102) Chapter 4 For the Benefit of Souls
The Virtues of Economy

James A. Palmer

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on private family chapels. Well known as an effort to claim status through public memorialization, the establishment and operation of such chapels was also legible in terms of pious economy, stewardship, and the virtues of good governance. Enhancing the prestige and memory of their lineages, they also created a mechanism by which earthly coinage could be exchanged for the spiritual currency of prayer, which was both desirable and easily transferable. Its production generated social status, and its strategic circulation enabled prominent Romans to bind themselves to one another and to render their political community more resilient to the instabilities of daily life. Chapel patrons projected an image of themselves as leading members of a rightly ordered society based on a just economy that was at once terrestrial and spiritual. As with the management of lineage patrimony in testaments, the establishment and maintenance of a chapel combined economic virtue with a clear performance of the virtues of good government.

Keywords:   family chapels, public memorialization, pious economy, stewardship, good governance, social status, Romans, political community, chapel patrons, economic virtue

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