Jean-Pierre Devroey

Recording social and legal conditions in early medieval rural society in Francia and central Italy. Denominations, lists, status, and judgments

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Keywords: Bonds of dependency, Social and spatial mobility, Polyptychs and land inventories, Central Italy, Carolingian Francia.

The paper addresses the problem of the legal and social status of individuals by focusing on investigation procedures, denominations and trials dealing with the status, bonds of dependency and mobility of peasants in early medieval rural society. The main sources are land inventories, formularies, instructions from capitularies and a small number of court cases dealing with the legal status of dependent peasants. Beyond the legal distinction between free and unfree and the freedom granted by enfranchisement, which it inherited from Antiquity, Western society multiplied personal status denominations in the eighth and ninth centuries, before moving towards a certain lack of distinction regarding the general vocabulary of dependence, and the appearance of new markers of individual status.

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