Christoph Cluse (2010)
Zur Repräsentation von Sklaven und Sklavinnen in Statuten und Notariatsinstrumenten italienischer Städte um 1400
In: Fremde in der Stadt: Ordnungen, Repräsentationen und soziale Praktiken (13.-15. Jahrhundert), ed. by Peter Bell, Dirk Suckow & Gerhard Wolf, pp. 383-408, Peter Lang, Berlin etc. Inklusion/Exklusion, 16.
Slavery was a fact of life in later medieval Italy, particularly in the major ports and mercantile cities of the North – Genoa, Venice, Pisa, and Florence –, in their colonial settlements of the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as in Sicily. This paper looks at representations of slaves in written documents of the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries. Discursive texts there are few, and the bulk of our evidence comes from notarial deeds concerning the sale or hire of slaves or their emancipation. A second category of legal documents the discussed consists of the civic statutes and public proclamations of the Italian communes. The paper aims at exploring the possibilities and limits of the concept of ‘representation’ for describing the practice of slavery in Italy on the basis of the legal documents: What is being said and what is not? Can the ‘frame’ be defined and how are the people involved configured within that frame? How are bodies described, and are there typified ‘gestures’? Are there performative aspects and what do they contribute? On a theoretical level, it is argued that ‘representation’ poses fewer problems than the theory of pragmatics, recently applied to the source material by Steven Epstein (Speaking of Slavery, 2001).
The paper includes a list of 152 references to slaves, written between 1390 and 1421, by the Pisan notary, Giuliano di Collino Scarsi.