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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CASTELLANY ACCOUNTS (Record-keeping, fiscal reform, and the rise of institutional accountability in late-medieval Savoy: a source-oriented approach)


Project ID: 638436
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CASTELLANY ACCOUNTS (Record-keeping, fiscal reform, and the rise of institutional accountability in late-medieval Savoy: a source-oriented approach)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The present research project analyses a neglected corpus of late-medieval sources, the administrative and fiscal accounts of the castellanies (basic administrative units) of the county of Savoy. Through a holistic analysis, the project capitalises 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. The study of these topics will expand 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 fiscal records with their sources of inspiration, such as the Anglo-Norman pipe rolls, the project will highlight the creative adaptation of imported administrative models, thus contributing to our knowledge of institutional transfers in European history. The result of this project will be the first comprehensive study of the Savoyard fiscal records.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first reporting period, the Principal Investigator's research has focused on elucidating the institutional logic behind the Savoyard source material, as a stepping stone towards conducting further research on Savoyard institutional reforms and their socio-economic impact. The major result achieved during this first reporting period has been the analysis of the process whereby the records that constitute the main primary sources of this research project were produced, tracing the evolution of the manuscripts from drafts to official records. In parallel, the main working hypotheses of the project have been tested against the primary sources and refined. This has resulted in the completion of a methodology that will be extended to the analysis of all the primary sources covered by the project.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

During the first reporting period the Principal Investigator has completed a comprehensive and interdisciplinary methodology for studying the Savoyard fiscal records that is unparalleled in its capacity to link in the same interpretive framework developments in administrative practice and the major trends in the society and economy of the Western Alps. Since the focus so far has been more on the former, that is, the institutional and administrative practices, one of the novel findings during this period, going beyond the state of the art, is that the Savoyard fiscal records represented 'dialogical documents', in the sense that they bear witness to a sustained dialogue between the central administration and the local elites. This aspect is at the centre of a scientific article currently in preparation that will be submitted for publication in major interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal.
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