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Pages Up-to-date and complete inventories had to be available in the archives and the latest bando should be on display. The bandi also detailed the duties of the archivist who was responsible for the maintenance of the archive and who had an important role in accumulating relevant papers. Specific provisions were, therefore, made for the selection of archivists.
The office was venal. Local communities were responsible for selecting the archivist, but each archivist had to be approved by the Prefetto before starting work. Following a practice generally accepted in early modern Italy, the papal notaries were obliged to turn over their writings to the archives on a regular basis. In fact, only if they agreed to deposit their records would their writings be legally valid. When issuing a legal act, notaries were forced to produce two copies copiae of the instrumentum , one for them to retain in their office, the other to be officially deposited in the archive within a period of two to four weeks.
If anything deviated from the procedure, the documents could not be archived and were thus in danger of nullity. The visitations in particular proved to be not only ineffective, but even detrimental to notarial record-keeping. An anonymous Discorso from around , for instance, elaborated on the many problems. For example, Filippo Maria Bonini, who produced a reform treatise around the same time, mentioned the archivial visitations of the Prefettura as the most obvious indicator for the generally miserable state of Church government.
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That archival visitations were among the examples most frequently discussed clearly demonstrates that record-keeping had become thoroughly integrated into the general discourse on efficient governance. The task of imposing state-control over notarial archives had become a natural part of and example for governmental activities. It was talked about in the same vein as other fields of politics were. Probably from onwards, the local governors were charged with controlling the archives. But this was even less effective.
The Governatori were either too busy, did not know exactly what to look for, or they were too closely involved with the local notaries on a daily basis to be effective agents of centralized control. The old system was ultimately reinstalled and the Prefettura once again relied on specially selected travelling deputies. This time, notarial record-keeping in the City of Rome itself came under scrutiny. In , Clement XI launched the first of at least two official investigations of all Roman notaries and their archives. Records were carelessly kept. Although Marescotti did not legislate on the notaries outside of Rome, the project clearly reverberated beyond Rome.
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A climate of archival reform existed under Clement XI. By far the most outspoken critic was Camillo Cybo, who headed the office for several years around and whose ideas will be discussed more fully in the following section. Under Cybo, the debate about optimizing central archival control changed direction somewhat. It took until for a reorganization to occur.
This created much needed institutional stability. The Prefettura thus held a significant role in the ongoing papal campaign against the criminal abuse of legal documents. Canale produced a special report that the Pope forwarded to a congregation of Cardinals, which discussed it in May Canale, however, was far from suggesting sweeping alterations. He did have a few innovative ideas, such as proposing that henceforth university training should be required for aspiring notaries. He also suggested making Italian the standard language for legal acts. For some problems he devised new bureaucratic routines of control.
It was the last one to be produced in the 18 th century and guided papal archival politics for the coming generations until when Napoleon abandoned the traditional system of notarial record-keeping by dismantling the network of decentralized archives. In fact, it is unclear whether the Prefettura was, at least well into the 18 th century, anything other than the Prefetto and perhaps a few aidees.
In order to be more efficient, the office needed a more solid bureaucratic structure and a larger apparatus. It was Camillo Cybo, Prefetto degli Archivi in , , , , and , who argued strongest for such an institutional upgrading. Maria sopra Minerva. Thomas Aquinas and on theological speculation in general. Later he served as Auditor of the Chamber, 56 and in , he was made Patriarch of Constantinopel.
In , Cybo became Cardinal. His tenure as Prefetto degli Archivi was thus only an early step in his long career. His many writings cover every step of his public and private life, although usually from an apologetic and self-indulging perspective. Their heavy propensity for narcissistic self-righteousness 58 notwithstanding, his autobiographical texts provide detailed and lively insight into the Roman Curia in the first half of the 18 th century. Filippo di Neri in Rome. Even more surprisingly, no information was available regarding the number and location of notarial archives in the Papal States.
Archival politics, just as any other area, depended on wellordered knowledge. Thus, he compiled an authoritative collection of all the legal documents pertaining to the Prefettura. He also collected exemplary templates for letters on all kinds of matters. He sent a questionnaire to all Governatori requesting detailed information about the notarial archives and the notaries in the country side. Unfortunately, this book does not seem to have survived.
In , he sent a questionnaire to many city- states in Italy, including sites of long-standing notarial traditions such as Bologna, Lucca, and Genoa. Cybo particularly sought information about the details of registering, copying, and archiving, and how the legal validity of documents depended on these procedures. Another topic of interest was the personal qualities required in archivists and notaries. Not all addressees of the questionnaire answered equally exhaustively. Many locations provided Cybo with printed statutes, laws, and official tables of fees in addition to short handwritten summaries.
Cybo had the incoming material aggregated into a condensed survey of answers to all 24 questions. This was clearly the attempt to understand legal recordkeeping in a broadly comparative way.
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In a substantial treatise of pages, he evaluated the papal system of archival supervision. Archives were means to, and objects of, governance. They required firm administration in order to fulfill their important functions. Archival well-being, thus, was understood to be fragile. Maintaining archival order required considerable efforts and depended on tight and effective supervision by state administrators.
The network-character of the papal notarial archives only exacerbated the difficulties.
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Cybo therefore opted for more centralization to improve record-keeping. Years before the reform of , he suggested that the office of the Prefetto be perpetual. Cybo also proposed institutional expansion. In particular, he wanted to establish a proper archive for the Prefettura itself.
His preference for centralization and bureaucratization is obvious.
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From his international survey, he found most congenial those cases and answers that supported his inclination. In his treatise, he explicitly mentions Florence, Siena, and Lucca as examples for the increased efficiency of a more centralized approach. If he had had hopes to convince Pope Clement XI.
The number of archives was not reduced, rather was increased throughout the 18 th century. His texts illustrate the state of archival administration around For Cybo, archival politics had to transcend the customary approach of makeshift and ad hoc arrangements. They needed to be put on firmer grounds and required a broader perspective. Institutionalizing efficient recordkeeping for Cybo was, however, less a question of theoretical planning than of practical improvements.