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Final Report Summary - FAIDA (Feud and blood feud between customary law and legal process in medieval and early modern Europe. The case of the Upper-Adriatic area.)

Summary description of the project objectives

The survey of feud’s system in past European societies as well as its mechanisms of resolution has been the object of some studies carried out by historians and anthropologists, leading to the indication that feud fulfilled an essential function of balance within strongly conflicting societies and that its system followed both legal and ritualized forms, different from the simple blood revenge, even if a satisfactory history of feud in Europe remains still unwritten.
The discussion over this phenomenon in Europe has paid little attention to the role played by the spread of Roman canonical procedures and the mediation carried out by lawyers, in order to introduce a new social order. This has been examined also in some studies on the early modern period, but the dynamics of social violence and the decisive interventions of state powers have not yet been adequately studied, in the light of the changes that took place in judicial proceedings.

This research project aimed at investigating the feud in the interrelationships between customary law and legal process, which is an almost uncharted topic, paying attention to the transition from customary practices, mainly handled by the community and prevailing in the early medieval age, to practices managed by professionals such as judges, lawyers, notaries and the procedures successively worked out by them.
Such transformation was relevant and even decisive, especially after the introduction of strict inquisitorial rites, which moved the conflict resolution process from the privileged classes to independent decisional bodies.
The scientific purpose of the project lied primarily in the deconstruction and the subsequent reassessment of an historical process that the documentary sources showed, at narrative level, in a distinctly negative and misleading way. This is because they disregarded both the customary and the legal implications that the feud had for centuries, as well as its social functions, which were part of an order and a tradition centered on peace and community control of conflicts.
As the majority of existing literature concentrates on the study of feuds in English-speaking countries, the research carried out in the framework of FAIDA has been focused on codes, manuscripts and treaties on law, diaries, correspondence, chronicles and records of the trials in courts established in the geographical area upper Adriatic especially in Istria, that during the medieval and modern times was part of the Republic of Venice and preserved in some archival fonds in Venice (I), Pazin (CRO), Koper and Ljubljana (SLO) and in Graz (A) and in Montenegro, but also in some noble families archival fonds.

The study of transition from customary to professional practices in feud's resolution has been carried out along the following objectives:
- the understanding of procedural narratives, paying attention to the new inquisitorial proceedings with the identification of the speeches that were formulated by experts of law and of their use, to understand the narrative forms that aim at facilitating their use and application;
- the analysis of trials and criminal proceedings that conditioned the new form of punitive justice: through this, it has been possible to identify the actions, consequences and protagonists of the feud in the context of proceedings that not only could no longer convey the older forms of mediation and feud;
- the study of links between feud, in terms of a trial that is the expression of new judiciary procedures, and feud as an eminently social phenomenon described in numerous sources (diaries, reports, and memoires of the protagonists): through this it has been possible to understand the existing difference of practices of containment of the social phenomenon itself;
- the description of feuds' protagonists, victims and accused in the trial. These are protagonists, who could be considered “new”, which the new trial rites emphasized through the alleged crimes suffered by the victims, or committed by the indicted.

Work performed since the beginning of the project

Since the beginning, the project has proceeded following a double path:
- one connected with the research in archival sources at Venice, Pazin, Koper, Ljubljana and Graz (and some in Montenegro, thanks to the contribution of two PhD students), leading to the implementation of a project’s archive collecting a number of cases which consented to analyze procedural narrative, trials and criminal proceedings, social conflicts, protagonists and ritual feuds from Medieval to Early modern times in Istria;
- the second connected with the sharing and discussion of intermediate and final project’s results, through the organization of one training workshop in October 2015 and one training International Conference in June 2016 both in Venice at Ca' Foscari University's premises.

A detailed list of all documents analyzed for the research purposes, with particular regards to the Venice State Archive has been published in the project's website (see the section 'Documents db' http://www.unive.it/pag/31127/).
Furthermore, the research has produced a collection of microfilms reproducing the documents examined at the Venice State Archive, a collection of documents from the State Archives of Pazin (CRO) and the Regional Archives of Koper (SLO), a portfolio of relevant scientific literature and works of the so called treatisers from 16th, 17th and 18th century and a gallery of illustrations on the project's topics. All the research material can be consulted, upon request, by other scholars and students interested in investigating the topic of feud in medieval and early modern period.
A focus on some feud's case-studies, which are also the subject of the project's publications, has been helpful in the dissemination of the project's results and its rendering in an easy-to-understand example on how technologies can help narrating such stories(see in the website the 'Vendetta in Koper 1686' application), which tells the story of Leandro Gravise, a nobleman from Koper, who committed the vendetta in 1686, which had been allegedly committed in the context of a feud with the Del Bello family.

FAIDA's International Conference, held at Ca' Foscari in Venice from 9 to 11 June 2016, represented the opportunity to open a discussion between experts not only on the project intermediate results, but also on open issues regarding this phenomenon, agreeing that feud, vendetta, maščevanje, osveta, gjakmarrje ..., was a customary system of conflict resolution present in all civilizations up to the establishment of the modern state, which gradually took over all the responsibility for revenge.

Cross-cutting activities have been represented by:
- the intense participation of the Fellow to dissemination events (15 in the entire duration of the fellowship);
- the publications of 7 articles and 2 monographs;
- the creation of 9 networks with more than 30 institutions committed to creating other research opportunities, including the submission of project's proposals to H2020 and Cross-border Programmes calls.

Main results achieved so far

The research has comparatively shown how the legislation changed in the early modern period, with special regards to the events in the Holy Roman Empire and the Venetian Republic. In addition to fiscal and military reorganization, the centralization of justice was of fundamental importance in the efforts of European rulers to establish supreme control over the entire territory under their jurisdiction.
In order to achieve this goal, however, the rulers had first to restrict, by means of legislation and other coercive means, the arbitrary conflict resolution system by custom. For this purpose, they established a judicial system, i.e. punitive control over both, individual, influential families and clans, as well as the population in general.
The state inquisitorial trial rites, introduced in most Western and Central European countries, in the early modern period lead to an important novelty: the state judicial apparatus has earned the right of prosecution ex officio. While earlier, in the so-called adversarial law, the judicial investigative process may only be led after the lawsuit of the affected communities, in the inquisitorial procedure the judicial trial was initiated by the central judicial authorities, which was the primary reason for their creation.

All case studies analyze the transformation of the social system of control and the exercise of the justice on the turn from the Middle Ages to the Modern period. They clearly show the characteristics of the common practice of conflict resolution system and juridicial trials, that allowed vengeance if the side of the perpetrator was not prepared to negotiate for peace making.
Although the present cases already show elements characteristic for judicial proceedings of the Modern period, the judicial process and the judgment itself have been conducted in accordance with customary law.
However, in order to learn about the changes that occurred during this period, it was first necessary to examine the common ritual of the conflict resolution system.
The study of rituals is therefore precisely of fundamental significance for creating an awareness about different historical and social processes as they reflect values, norms, mentalities and social imaginations. Rituals occur in politics, law, and in the everyday intercourse of people and groups. Escalations of conflict were ritualized. Changes and innovations in the social order also were announced by such actions, for example, by the ritual of investiture or by rituals for settlement the conflicts and making peace. The new situation was expressed in a very demonstrative way through actions such as taking a common meal, doing homage, or presenting gifts. Ritual was public communication, was media, but it was also law.

Final results and their potential impact and use

The most important results of the project FAIDA are:
- Training workshop at Ca' Foscari University of Venice (October 2015);
- International training conference at Ca' Foscari University of Venice (June 2016);
- 4 articles published in a peer-review high impact journal (including 2 entire issues of a peer-review high impact journal dedicated to the project results);
- 1 article in a regional (Istrian) very well known peer-review journal;
- 2 articles in publication process for peer-review monograph publications;
- 2 books (the first only in part connected with FAIDA topics);
- Presentation of papers on my research topic on 12 international conferences and on 3 other public manifestations;
- Setting up the website of the project FAIDA;
- Establishment of 9 networks for project proposals in the field of cultural heritage for Horizon 2020, ERC and European Territorial Cooperation Cross-border Programmes;
- Training activities with the supervisor, members of the Advisory board established at the workshop and at training events organized by the host institution.

Scientific research in this field could actively contribute to developing educational courses such as history of mediation for appropriate training of mediating professionals, who could play a strategic and key role in solving conflicts and disputes in contemporary societies. While the customary system allows the conflicting parties to decide to resolve the conflict according to the principles of restorative or of retributive justice, the modern-age state knows only the principle of retributive justice.
That is why the customary conflict resolution system should have ventured into oblivion.

Reported by

UNIVERSITA CA' FOSCARI VENEZIA
Italy
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