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Record-keeping, fiscal reform, and the rise of institutional accountability in late-medieval Savoy: a source-oriented approach

Project description

Holding officials to account in late-medieval Savoy

The ERC-funded CASTELLANY ACCOUNTS project is pioneering a holistic analysis model in the study of hundreds of fiscal and administrative accounts from late-medieval Savoy. To that end, it will investigate institutional developments, specifically the accountability of territorial officers (the castellans) and their socioeconomic implications for the communities of the Western Alps. The project aims to redefine our understanding of the castellany accounts ("computi") as hybrid and multipurpose records that combined financial numbers and sizeable passages of text in an effort to not only verify officers’ performance but also instruct them about their duties and the norms of administrative accountability. Thus, CASTELLANY ACCOUNTS will highlight the institutional dialogue between the professional administrators from the centre and the castellans recruited from the local elites.


The present research project focuses on an unjustly neglected corpus of late-medieval sources, the administrative and fiscal accounts (‘computi’) of the castellanies – basic administrative units – of the county of Savoy. I propose a holistic model of analysis that can fully capitalise on the unusual wealth of detail of the Savoyard source material, in order to illuminate some key topics in late-medieval institutional and socio-economic history, from the development of state institutions through administrative and fiscal reform – with particular attention to the transition from personal to institutional accountability – to the question of socio-economic growth, decline, and recovery during the turbulent period of the late-thirteenth to the late-fourteenth century. More broadly, my research into these topics aims to contribute to our understanding of the late-medieval origins of European modernity. The advances of pragmatic literacy, record-keeping, and auditing practices will be analysed with the aid of anthropological and social scientific theories of practice. By comparing the Savoyard ‘computi’ with their sources of inspiration, from the Anglo-Norman pipe rolls to the Catalan fiscal records, the project aims to highlight the creative adaptation of imported administrative models, and thus to contribute to our knowledge of institutional transfers in European history. The project will develop an inclusive frame of analysis in which the ‘computi’ will be read against the evidence from enfeoffment charters, castellany surveys (‘extente’), and the records of direct taxation (‘subsidia’). The serial data will be analysed by building a database; the findings of quantitative analysis will be verified by case studies of the individuals and families (many from the middle social strata) that surface in the fiscal records.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 501 218,75
050663 Bucuresti

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Macroregiunea Trei Bucureşti-Ilfov Bucureşti
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 501 218,75

Beneficiaries (2)