Friday, 12 June 2009

Death of a Notary

It’s always a worry when the handwriting changes mid paragraph. It’s a bit like that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when, upon reaching the dread cave of Kyre Banorg, the Knights of the Round Table find "carved in mystic runes upon the very living rock, the last words of Ulfin Bedweer of Regett" which state:

Here may be found the last words of Joseph of
Aramathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail
in the Castle of uuggggggh.

The final word having been carved during the demise of the aforementioned Ulfin Bedweer of Regett.

In my case, I hope I will not be chased out of the Archivio di Stato by a Terry Gilliam-inspired, legendary Black Beast of aaauuugh, although that would certainly cause comment amongst the patrons of the reading room here.

But back to the main point; on the 21st October, 1361 a case was brought against Dominicus de Ruigo, marangonus, qui fuit ad laterand de penelo batiorium et fragend astam dictis penonis. What used to happen once a year was a big punch up between the calafati and the marangoni of the ship-building area of Venice, the Arsenale. Manly men being manly men, that sort of thing. It seems that Dominicus, another 8 marangone and about 4 calafati (FYI Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3643, ff. 16v-18r) were all hauled up to officialdom for being somewhat over exuberant in their beating up of each other. In the case of Dominicus though, mid sentence the handwriting and thus the notary changes quite dramatically. This either suggests a holiday or unexpected death thus rendering the scribe in question incapacitated. I would like to hope for a holiday but this being the 14th C, it was probably something decidedly less pleasant, like syphilis, TB or BO. Lovely.

It is these sorts of, at times, mildly macabre musings that keep one going in the archives.

By the way, Dominicus got one month in prison for his efforts.

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