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Beyond their dowries. Women and wealth in medieval and early modern north-central Italy

Women and wealth in late medieval Pisa (c. 1350-1420)

Sylvie Duval
p. 137-150

Résumé

The aim of this paper is to evaluate the role played by women in inheritance practices in late medieval Pisa through an in-depth analysis of the city’s statues (Constitutum Legis) as well as a broad sample of wills dating from 1340 to 1420. To what extent could Pisan women freely own property, accumulate and transmit their wealth? How far did the situation in Pisa echo that of the north-central Italian cities where female property rights were gradually restricted and patrilineal succession reinforced? In this regard, the «Pisan model» was different from both Venetian and Florentine inheritance practices. Pisan law allowed women to inherit non-dotal assets with relative ease. Moreover, although testamentary bequests between spouses were not allowed, in their wills married men allowed a significant margin of freedom to the «widows-to-be» entrusted with managing the family estate on behalf of their children. Statutes and wills, therefore, encapsulate the different and overlapping identities of women (wives, daughters, mothers) thus enabling us to trace the profile of medieval Pisan women, who were perhaps less subjected to the male mundum than elsewhere.

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1 The words patrimonium and matrimonium encapsulate concepts that, from classical times to modernity, lay at the basis of gender roles in European societies. Put simply, patrimonium refers to the possession of goods, especially immovables, traditionally considered a male prerogative. Matrimonium instead, implicitly refers to the formation of a family unit, and is evocative of the bond between parents and siblings, which must be fostered and nurtured – a responsibility traditionally fulfilled by females. Ostensibly, these two «domains» are interconnected, since families need a house in which to live and property from which to earn a living and thrive.

2To a certain extent these gendered social divisions still exist in our society. This is why, as historians, we should strive not to consider this as an obvious, or even «natural», framework. This conceptual separation between «male» and «female» roles depends on specific historical contexts. It can function only in pacified societies, or at least in a society in which war and violence are not considered the main (or the only) prerogative of males. Moreover, this social framework is based on one fundamental legal principle: private property. But the principle of private property is not universal. As such it is an essential principle of Roman law. It is less so in other contexts, with different legal and social norms, and in particular in feudal societies, which were substantially based on the codification of personal relationships and on the identification of the dominant social class with the warriors (even if aristocrats were not necessarily devoted to warfare). This «system» considered motherhood (matri-monium) as the fulcrum of a woman’s life cycle, placing the relationship between a woman and her children over and above any other social connection. Such stereotypical image of the social identity of females, already a topos in Roman times, was further reinforced with the diffusion of Christianity in Europe.

  • 1 For an introduction, see Grossi 1995.

3Between the 11th and 13th centuries Roman civil law (the ius commune) was rediscovered in the north-central Italian communes.1 The legal substructure of the early communes was largely based on a set of rules that had been partly inherited from Barbarian law. Such framework, however, became quickly obsolete, since it could no longer cater for the needs of these burgeoning cities. By the end of the 11th century, therefore, in the north-central Italian cities, new corpora of laws began to be elaborated which adapted the principles of Roman civil law to suit the needs of contemporary society. Pisa was one of the first cities in which statutes that were deeply influenced by the ius commune, were written and put into practice. Within the intricate landscape of legal codes elaborated in the period spanning the 12th to the 15th centuries across north-central Italy, Pisan statutes are among those that follow more closely the principles of Justinianean law (the Corpus Iuris Civilis). In the Pisan legal codes, the concepts of matrimonium and patrimonium re-acquired, their powerful gendering meaning (even if this was modified when compared to the same notions in classical antiquity).

  • 2 The Pisan Statuta were reformed one last time in 1516. See Era 1922, in part, p. 10. For the conte (...)

4Here I will focus on the thirteenth-century version of the city’s statutes. Written in 1230, the Constituta regulated local private law. They are divided into two parts: the Constitutum Usus regulated trade and the use of public space, while the Constitutum Legis settled family law (inheritance, the patrimonial relationship between spouses, parents and children, owners and slaves, etc). They were slightly amended (particularly with the ordinamenta of 1337) but the core part of the legislation remained untouched for centuries.2 The legal status of women is considered only in the Constitutum Legis (the text dealing with family law). In this legal code the chance for women to come into possession of patrimonial assets is implicitly considered an exception (although such cases were not rare), or at least a temporary situation.

  • 3 See Feci 2004, p. 31: «Gli statuti di Pisa e di Ascoli mettono chiaramente in luce come a comandar (...)
  • 4 I have gathered the information from 630 Pisan wills into a database; I also used several notarial (...)

5By considering Pisa in the 14th and early 15th centuries, I will argue that the degree of legal and social agency enjoyed by women in any given social context is tied less to their rights to possess property than to their ability to manage different kinds of assets, even if on someone else’s behalf. In order to examine the role of Pisan women, I will focus on the concepts encapsulated in Pisan municipal law; this will enable me to chart the legal status and social role of women as «daughters», «wives and widows», and finally as «mothers»3. Besides municipal law (mainly the Constitutum Legis) I will also examine a broad sample of notarial documents, especially wills, dating from 1340 to 1420. Wills clarify the extent to which law squared with practice, illustrating developments in customary practices which are not necessarily evident in legal prescriptions.4

  • 5 The content of this article derives from Lombard law, see Storti Storchi 1998, p. 70-77.
  • 6 For the text of the Statuta, Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 782.

6I will begin the discussion by summarizing an excerpt of the Constitutum Legis which provides us with a general frame of reference for understanding the nature of «female goods» and the legal capacity of women to possess and manage assets.5 The norm in question is Article XXXIX of the Constitutum Legis entitled: Qualiter mulieribus permissum est alienare, vel in ultima voluntate relinquere.6 The article describes in what ways women could alienate and bequeath their personal property.

  • 7 All women who reached their legal majority. See below, n. 85.

7By law, women7 could sell, bequeath, or pledge specific parts of their belongings, but only under certain conditions:

  • unmarried and childless women could alienate all of their belongings (in totum);
  • married and childless women could alienate all property which made up their personal estate except for the dowry and donamenta (similiter in totum, preter dotem et donamenta);8
  • widows with children could alienate half of their belongings (pro medietate);
  • married women with children were allowed to alienate a fourth part of their belongings (pro quarta parte).

8One should further note that this article deals with those assets that were officially part of the personal funds of Pisan women (inherited or acquired goods, dowry, donamenta). Clearly, especially for what concerned married women, «possession» and «management» did not coincide. Let us see now how these juridical capacities were actually put into practice and, above all what they meant in late medieval Pisan society.

Women as daughters: Pisan women and inheritance rights

  • 9 See Duval 2017, part 2.
  • 10 Excerpt from the opening section of the article De successione ab intestato, Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, (...)

9In Pisa the rules of inheritance (whether by will or intestate) were patrilineally-oriented. This does not mean that assets were transmitted exclusively to men, but rather that these rules were centered around the figure of the father (patri-monium). Consequently, any surviving male putative heir (sons, grandsons and so on, strictly following a direct descending line) excluded daughters (granddaughters, and so on) from inheritance, but the absence of direct male descendants allowed daughters (granddaughters and so on) to inherit. In the absence of direct male heirs, daughters were preferred to other surviving male relatives, precisely because they were their father’s daughters.9 Pisan law established that: in successione semper prima causa sit liberorum, et si ulterior gradu quis sit constitutes.10

  • 11 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, Constitutum Legis, articles XXXI-XXXVI.
  • 12 The Justinianean legitima was introduced in Pisan law in 1167, see Storti Storchi 1998 p. 81.
  • 13 These proportions are quite different from those prescribed by Justinianean law (Novella 18) from (...)
  • 14 See the example of Parassone Grassi, whose wills exclude specifically his nephew from his inherita (...)
  • 15 That is, first cousins (following the male line: the sons of the paternal uncles). They are usuall (...)

10All the articles that regulated patrimonial transmission are consonant with the principle of patrimonium, which inextricably links the father with the possession of goods.11 The main articles regulate intestate succession (de successionibus ab intestato), wills, and the legitima (or legitim, the share of inheritance fathers and mothers were obliged to transmit to their children, with or without a will).12 The amount of the legitima was calculated on the basis of the number of children. It comprised a sizeable portion of a family’s estate: if one child survived his father, he had right to half his patrimony. If there were two children, the estate was divided into three parts: two equal parts for the children, one for the testator, and so on.13 According to the principle of male priority, this legitima was due only to direct male descendants. Once again, in the absence of direct male descendants, daughters had the same rights to the legitima as sons. Sons and daughters retained exclusive right to the legitima (i.e. other relatives such as fathers, brothers, uncles etc, were excluded from the legitim). In the absence of direct descendants, male and female testators could bequeath their whole patrimony to whom they wished.14 However, in the absence of a will, the Statuta describe an agnatic line of succession: any surviving ascendants (fathers or paternal grandfathers) had precedence. Otherwise the inheritance was transmitted to (full or agnate) brothers, otherwise to (full or agnate) sisters or daughters of a deceased brother; if these were deceased, the patrimony passed to the uncles (brothers of the father), and so on, up to the fourth degree of kinship.15 The «inheritance system» was aimed at transmitting wealth along the male, agnatic (the «fathers’») line. Consequently, all relatives along the female line (even the sons of the daughters of the de cuius, see diagrams below) were excluded from inheritance. Female relatives along the agnatic line, however, were not.

  • 16 The two articles of the Statuta concerning the legitima and the goods a woman had the right to ali (...)

11Many Pisan women could therefore be the heiresses of their fathers or grandfathers, and consequently, they could transmit patrimonies. Pisan law established that property held by mothers, including their dowry, was subjected to the same inheritance rules as patrimonial assets held by fathers. Pisan women were therefore obliged to transmit their property to their sons (if they had direct male descendants, otherwise to their daughters), in proportion to their number (legitima). Since law imposed limitations to the amount of goods women could freely bequeath (the quarta, see article quoted above), the legitima that mothers transmitted to their children was proportionally larger than the share of patrimony fathers had to pass on as legitim.16 Consequently, if during the span of a generation, a patrimony (or a share of it) fell in the hands of a woman, this was merely a temporary situation which would be amended when the heiress’ male descendant became himself a father. It follows that women were just transitory or «nominal» owners of patrimonies, which in any case they could not manage.

  • 17 In Florence the statutes were reformed in 1325, and then 1415. Details in Chabot 2011 (p. 13-16).
  • 18 In Venice, this system allowed families to bestow upon daughters sizeable dowries, without deprivi (...)

12Do Pisan wills show evidence of evasive strategies that could have allowed fathers to transmit their patrimony to their brothers and other male relatives rather than their daughters? The answer is negative. Substantially, the Pisan patrimonial system worked. Several clues suggest that Pisans did not consider the right of girls to inherit as a problem. First, in contrast to Florence, the rules of inheritance were never modified in Pisa.17 Second, last wills show that unlike contemporary Venice, in Pisa there was no «female» line of transmission.18 The wills of Pisan married women contain almost only pious bequests (that were covered with the quarta), whereas those of widows with children follow the «normal» base line for succession, establishing their sons (or their daughters if they had no male descendants) as heirs. Moreover, female and male wills do not present substantial quantitative differences in the number of legacies – mainly furnishings donated vita durante or garments and personal items – to female beneficiaries (be they unmarried girls, married women or widows).

  • 19 Even if the daughters’ rights to inheritance were curbed from the 14th century onward, especially (...)

13At any rate, the Pisan case is similar to many other European areas where law upheld the right of girls to inherit in the absence of direct male heirs.19 We are all familiar with the figure, popularized by literary fiction, of the «heiress» (It. ereditiere, Fr. héritières): an only daughter who, having inherited all of her father’s estate, attracts a multitude of suitors.

  • 20 Fathers and mothers were obliged to do so in virtue of the legitima law, unless they had previousl (...)
  • 21 Such wills were invalidated only if contested in front of a judicial authority. The wills I have c (...)
  • 22 Contrary to Roman civil law, Pisan law allowed testators to write a testament without specifying t (...)
  • 23 It should be noted that the word parapherna is used in wills and we can find it in the consilia wr (...)
  • 24 Some fathers excluded the family house (especially towers), or their commercial/artisan shop (fond (...)
  • 25 On the legal problem of the equivalence of dowry and a «female» legitima, see Kuehn 2012. In Pisa (...)
  • 26 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 754.

14Since municipal law established that female only children had right to the legitima,20 any will that failed to comply could be invalidated.21 During the second half of the 14th century however, Pisan wills in which the designated heirs were females were written differently from those in which males were appointed universal heirs. In Pisan wills the main heirs are listed at the end of the document, after all the other bequests:22 this means that those parts of the estate which were not listed as legacies were transmitted to them. The institutio heredis contains no specific proviso on those cases in which sons (or grandsons, etc.) were declared heirs (everything had to be transmitted to the sons). When daughters were established as heiresses, fathers usually specified the amount of money allotted for the dowry (or dowries) and for other non-dotal assets (parapherna in our sources),23 at times declaring which specific parts of the estate were excluded.24 A dowry was to be included in the legitima, but the legitim could be higher than the dowry.25 This is an important division since half the dowry would pass to the husband in case of a woman’s premature death and in the absence of offspring (lucrum dotis).26 Moreover, it seems that often dowries were not restored to women, since their husbands often granted them usufructum (I shall return briefly on this). Consequently, affluent fathers often decided to bestow smaller dowries, and a more sizeable non-dotal fund.

  • 27 At the time Tommaso had only a son, an infant, whom he declared his heir. However, his wife was pre (...)
  • 28 Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Notarile Antecosimiano [henceforth ASF] NA 290, f. 86r-90r.
  • 29 As his son’s daughter, Guiduccia had the same right to the legitima as her aunts. See below, diagr (...)
  • 30 ASPi, Opera del Duomo, 1293.
  • 31 Cecco had given his daughter Angela, the nun, a dowry of 350 lire; to his married daughter Giovann (...)

15For example, in his will dated 1360, Tommaso da Massa, declared that if his daughter was to become his heir,27 he wanted her to receive a dowry amounting to 400 florins, and non-dotal assets amounting to 1000 florins. A very well-documented case is that of Cecco Botticella who made his last will on 7 April, 1355.28 At the time, Cecco did not have any direct male heir to whom to transmit his estate because his son Cristoforo was already dead. Cecco established as his universal hereisses his two daughters, Angela, a nun, and Giovanna, at the time married, as well as Guiduccia, daughter of his late son, who was also married.29 By Pisan law the three women had right to the legitim. The will lists many pious legacies, but, contrary to other testaments which appointed female heirs, the document fails to specify how Cecco’s estate was to be shared out among the three women. Cecco specified this in another document, a little account book now kept in the Archivio di Stato di Pisa.30 Abiding by Pisan law, Cecco divided his inheritance into four parts: he listed his own part at the beginning of the document (this portion was to cover for his pious legacies) and another three parts, one for each of the heiresses. The three shares of the estate were intended as the legitima of the three women. Cecco insisted that dowries, including the one provided to the nun, should be evened out: when the two got married and the other entered religious life, Cecco could not have foreseen that the three women would eventually become his heirs. Therefore, it was only afterwards that he was able to carefully oversee that each one of them obtained an equal share.31

Women as wives and widows: the effect of marriage on the patrimonial rights of Pisan women

  • 32 See below, Appendix 2.
  • 33 That is: they could do so (they could sell the goods for their own benefit, in utilitatem suam), b (...)

16Even if Pisan girls could inherit – for example Benegrande del Rosso’s daughters –32 a sizeable estate, they could freely manage these assets (whether dotal or non-dotal) only if they were widows and childless. Control over property of married women fell upon their husbands, but still men were not free to alienate their wives’ property.33 Patrimonies were thus a male prerogative even if they were owned by women.

  • 34 ASPi, Ospedali di Santa Chiara, 2092, f. 134r/1.
  • 35 The note recording the consilium is not dated, but it was inserted between two pages bearing acts (...)

17As seen in the introduction, the article Qualiter mulieribus permissum est alienare gave Pisan women the right to manage only a fourth part of their belongings (quarta). Ostensibly, with control over such a small portion of their wealth these women could not manage their estates efficiently. A consilium inserted between the pages of the register of the Pisan notary Guaspare Massufero34 elucidates that this norm could pose problems not just to wives, but also to husbands who wished to sell a part of their wives’ estates. Around the year 1417,35 a Pisan couple asked Guaspare to devise a stratagem with which they could override this norm and sell a house which was part of the wife’s non-dotal fund. They figured that they could make the husband surety of the sale and they wanted to know if this legal ploy would allow them to alienate the property. The three consulted an otherwise unnamed jurist, who answered Guaspare and the couple that, according to him, it was impossible to sell the wife’s property, even if the husband acted surety.

  • 36 For example in the ms. Comune A, 18ter, f. 94r.

Titia habens virum et liberos et, ultra dotes et donamenta habet bona parafernalia, vult vendere de bonis parafernalibus ultra quartam partem: quod prohibetur per formam statuti.36

  • 37 Totam actionem de dote et de parafernis et de antefactis et de donamentis […] ad leges ponimus (Bo (...)

18We find other consilia and comments which deal with the specific issue of non-dotal assets in the margins of the manuscripts of the Statuta. However, it should be noted that even if the word paraphernalia was used by both jurists (to comment the Statuta) and notaries (when redacting wills), it was not used by the legislators who wrote text of the legal code. With one notable exception: a passage of the Constitutum Usus, which explains that all «female property» should be administered according to the Constitutum legis.37 This means that «female property» and above all «the property of married women» (dotal and non-dotal assets), were considered as one and the same thing by Pisan legislators.

  • 38 On non-dotal assets (in Florence) see Kirshner 2015.
  • 39 ASF NA 18800, f. 38r-38r.

19Consequently, it was probably not easy for Pisan women to protect their non-dotal assets, which would be entirely restored to women only upon their husbands’ predecease, and kept aside for their sons.38 During the second half of the 14th century, Pisan heiresses could protect their non-dotal estate by resorting to a notarial contract normally used in commerce: they concluded an accomandigia with their husband. This commercial contract allowed wives to secure the amount of money specified in the document. Much like what happened with the dowry act, upon their husbands’ predecease women would show this document to the main heirs, as proof of what belonged to them. The document also served as warranty for the husband, who could manage and even sell a part of these goods, just as he could do with other commodities (although, as stated, these assets had to be restored to his wife upon his predecease). Such was the case of Giovanna, Bella and Bacciamea, daughters and heiresses of Bandino Porcarius who concluded an accomandigia with their respective husbands in 1400. Each of them had inherited 1300 florins as non-dotal assets from their father, while they had received 400 florins each as dowry.39 Upon their husband’s predecease, Pisan women had the right to recover their dowry and their non-dotal assets, but as stated, law prohibited widows with children from alienating all of their property.

20This notwithstanding, the «relationship» between Pisan women, especially widows, and patrimonies was much more complex than the contents of article Qualiter mulieribus permissum est alienare let us surmise. Women were not only «nominal» owners of a portion of the estate they could not manage entirely. Upon their husband’s predecease, they were very often also in charge of their children’s share of the family estate (as legal guardians of their unemancipated offspring). They were also «end users» (usufructarie) of a large portion of their deceased husband’s estate. These specific capacities are intertwined, and must be considered together in order to understand the «role» and the legal and social agency of Pisan women.

  • 40 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 786-787.
  • 41 Rava 2016, p. 220.
  • 42 The formulary which notaries commonly used is: [uxor mea] sit domina et usufructaria omnes bonorum (...)
  • 43 This does not mean that she lost her rights over her dowry – by law this was impossible. This «arr (...)
  • 44 Storti Storchi 1998, p. 71.
  • 45 The widow had to agree on the extension of her usufruct with the heirs (if they were adults). Some (...)
  • 46 Testators could named important religious institutions as substitutive heirs in order to make sure (...)

21Wills show that husbands often granted their widows usufruct over «all their belongings». This seems in contradiction with an article of the Statuta, entitled De his que a viro in uxorem dantur vel relinquuntur40 which limits the extent of usufruct a woman could enjoy. According to this article, a woman could only exercise usufruct over a part of her husband’s estate which was proportional to the number of children born out of their marriage. 14th- and early 15th-century wills however illustrate that this was not the kind of usufruct Pisan husbands intended in their last wills. The article above refers to what came to be known as alimenta (widow’s «pension») which, as Rava has shown, was due to the widow even if the dowry had been already restored (but not if the widow remarried).41 The clause domina et usufructaria42 instead was encumbered by the fact that a widow could not reclaim her dowry43 and, in case there were children, that she would have to stay at home to take care of them. The clause is often linked to the widows’ guardianship of their children. As Storti Storchi points out, the custom of granting usufruct to a wife in order to keep the family united is of Lombard origin.44 The attempt of the Statuta of 1230 to limit the usufruct of widows was bypassed by customary practices. This does not mean that widows had an unlimited right to «use» their husband’s goods as they wished.45 Rather, full usufruct went hand in hand with guardianship of underage children. Moreover, testators usually warranted the clause establishing usufruct by resorting to complex legal ploys involving religious institutions (especially through substitution clauses),46 by requiring relatives or acquaintances to protect their wife, or by threatening the heirs of depriving them of their share of inheritance if they hampered the widow from exercising her right to usufruct on the estate.

  • 47 Some wills show that, husbands were aware that young widows were more likely to remarry. See for e (...)
  • 48 Spouses were allowed to bequeath only 15 lire to each other. The fact that this kind of devolution (...)
  • 49 Childless persons usually left more bequests to pious institutions less because they did not have (...)
  • 50 On usury, see Duval 2018.

22It is interesting to notice that this kind of usufruct was also granted to wives who did not have any surviving children at the time of their husband’s death (usually to old women who plausibly would not remarry).47 Moreover, exceptionally broad usufructs are also recorded: for instance, there are many references to husbands who granted their wives not only the right to benefit from the revenues from all of their property, but even the right to alienate (sell or donate) part of it. Perhaps this was a means to circumvent law, since wives were prohibited from inheriting from their husbands, and vice versa.48 If we rely on the words of testators, however, these testamentary dispositions have another, more pious, explanation. To husbands, usufruct was a way to entrust the care of their soul to the most competent person. To childless couples, pious bequests were of primary importance.49 Widows were allowed to distribute alms to whom they wanted, according to what they thought would be better for the salvation of their husband’s soul.50 A few wills specify that wives were to distribute the alms themselves since they were well aware of their husband’s proclivities. This is the case of Bartolomeo Bertalotti who in his will dated 1418:

  • 51 ASF NA 3081, f. 81v-85v. The usufruct was divided into two parts: Nense could keep all her belongi (...)

Domine Nense recommendo animam meam, ita quod de fructibus ipsorum bonorum [meorum] possit amore Dei omnipotentis distribuere et erogare pauperibus et egenis personis prout videbitur… prout et sicut a me Bartholomeo extitit informata.51

  • 52 On the executores see Duval 2013.
  • 53 This estimate is based on my database, see n. 4.
  • 54 For Florence, see Chabot 2011, p. 275-278.
  • 55 For the role of widows in testamentary execution, see in particular the registers of the Executor (...)

23This touching conjugal intimacy is also present in another clause i.e. when testators appointed their testamentary executors. Here again we find a discrepancy between law and practice. The Statuta tried to limit the tendency to appoint one’s spouse as testamentary executor,52 but wills prove that at least from the 13th century, Pisans, and especially men, tended to appoint their wives (specifically, 70% of married male testators during the years spanning 1350 to 1420)53 solo or with other trusted acquaintances.54 Widows were especially in charge of the distribution of pious bequests. But often they were in charge of settling their husband’s affairs. The execution of a testament was a long process, which could last years, and there was no clear separation between pious legacies and other bequests. That is why very often we find widows acting legally as «executors»: selling or renting estates, distributing alms, managing rents of parcels of land in the contado.55

  • 56 It was suppressed at the end of the 12th century, probably because of the progressive process of i (...)
  • 57 I never found any document showing a Pisan woman acting in her own name as a trader (investing, se (...)

24Countless women are mentioned in the pages of Pisan notarial registers. But most of these did not act as full owners of the property they sold, rented, exchanged or donated. They mostly acted as executors of their husband’s wills, or as tutors of their children, or as usufructarie. Pisan women were also very often named as legal agents (procuratrices) by their emancipated children, by relatives or acquaintances, since there was no legal impediment for them (the mundualdus was not required in Pisa)56 to conclude a contract on someone else’s behalf. There are also records of women who managed their estate as widows, such as Benegrande del Rosso’s daughters. For what concerns the period under consideration, however, they are less present than women acting «by mandate». Unlike their Venetian and Genoese counterparts, Pisan women did not invest in commerce57 – even Benegrande’s daughters are never attested as investors in trade, and their father left his fondacco out of their inheritance. Put simply, Pisan women possessed very little agency when acting on their own, but ironically they managed a sizeable portion of Pisan patrimonies, even if on their relatives’ behalf. Once again, we have to come to terms with the inherent meaning of patrimonium and matrimonium: women, even when owners of vast estates, could hardly manage them (their husbands did). However, they could and they had to manage large fortunes on behalf of their underage children (as guardians), of their deceased husbands (as testamentary executors), or both (as usufructarie). In other terms, their agency was determined by their marital status (wife/widow and mother).

Women as mothers: the duty of managing goods and family

  • 58 Because very often (but not always) they were also the children’s guardians.
  • 59 On this topic see Feci 2008.
  • 60 70,5% of married testators with children. The real proportion could be higher since I could not in (...)
  • 61 The article De tutoribus et curatoribus recalls that mothers and grandmothers, according to Roman (...)
  • 62 See Duval 2017.
  • 63 That is the bothers of the testator. This is a rare case in which uncles appear in Pisan testament (...)
  • 64 See Poloni 2004.

25Wills drawn up by fathers are the longest and, very often, the most interesting. Apart from the typical clauses, these documents contain a part concerning the guardianship of their children. Legal guardians were generally listed at the end of the document, after all the pious legacies and heir(s), but before the testamentary executors.58 This closing part of the will, which typically consists of standard legal formulary, at face value may seem just notarial argot. But it is through these clauses that fathers – who probably availed themselves of the expertise of notaries and jurists – carefully charted the degree of agency that prospective legal guardians would be able to exercise.59 Most Pisan fathers appointed their wives as their children’s guardians.60 Since often wives were also named usufructarie and testamentary executors, widowed mothers played a central role in Pisan society. However, the extent of their mandate as guardians could vary, according to their place along the social scale, their age group, and their children’s age. Merchant/banker fathers usually named co-tutors alongside their wives, one or two males, whom the testator deemed able to give counsel to his widowed wife, especially for what concerned intricate business affairs.61 Aristocratic families instead were less inclined to entrust guardianship to widows: the members of the ancient seigneurial lineages (a category that resorted to wills much less than merchant/bankers and artisans)62 typically chose their brothers as legal guardians to their children.63 These differences depend less on economic affluence (many Pisan merchant families, who hailed from the popolo, were wealthier than the traditional aristocracy),64 than on family traditions proper to these two social groups.

  • 65 Klapisch-Zuber 1983.
  • 66 Feci 2008, p. 87.

26A woman who remarried would lose all the mandates granted by her previous husband: her role as testamentary executor and guardian, as well as her usufruct over the family estate would be automatically cancelled. She would regain her dowry (and non-dotal assets) – which would be immediately conveyed to her new husband. We cannot know how remarriage affected the relationship between these mothers and the children born from a previous marriage. Perhaps Pisan mothers were considered as «cruel» as their Florentine counterparts.65 At any rate, the high number of mothers who were appointed guardians and testamentary executors, and the countless references to these women in Pisan notarial sources show that Pisan mothers – if they were able to make and independent decision – often chose to stay home and take care of their children. This behaviour was congruent with the local model of motherhood. Again, this comes as no surprise: we know that throughout Europe widowed mothers were often appointed their children’s guardians.66

  • 67 ASPi Diplomatico, Primaziale, 14 January 1419. All the acts were written during the year 1419: the (...)
  • 68 Testators «ranked» their children’s legal guardians from the most important (those who retained de (...)
  • 69 Wills are full of recommendations addressed by testators to their heirs and more generally to thos (...)

27The role of these mothers/legal guardians can be examined by drawing from notarial acts and documents of the judicial courts. Unfortunately, the registers of the Pisan podesterial court have been lost, but this gap can be filled by focusing on other documents. Francesco Compagni’s will, dated 14 January 1419, contains the legal record – carefully transcribed by the notary – of all the successive procedures relative to the guardianship of the testator’s heirs (his three sons).67 Francesco had appointed eight persons as legal guardians to his sons. Three of these were to be main guardians:68 his wife Giovanna, his mother Maria, and Iacopo Rossi, an acquaintance and/or a commercial partner. Two weeks later, the podestà confirmed guardianship only to these three. The other five, among whom was a canon of the Pisan cathedral, a notary, and two members of prominent merchant Pisan families, had been appointed only to assist the main guardians. Francesco had named his mother Maria as «chief» guardian (decisional power fell upon her), this choice however was not confirmed by the judge.69 In view of their age and experience, grandmothers could be chosen as chief guardians: there is in fact no shortage of such references in Pisan wills.

28So far I have only considered widowed mothers. Motherhood however granted legal leeway also to married women. In the Constitutum Legis, the article following Qualiter mulieribus permissum est alienare is (surprisingly) entitled Quando mulier de rebus mariti vel suis possit alienare. As the name suggests, the norm stipulates under what conditions a wife could alienate her own and her husband’s property. This article does not contradict the first norm I have mentioned above. It was aimed specifically at protecting women and their families in case the husband was absent (particularly due to long trips), or in case of illness (physical and/or mental), or more simply if the state of the husband’s business affairs jeopardized the future of the other family members. The article is vague on the specific reasons (it only refers to «family necessities») that could justify an alienation:

Mulier de rebus mariti absentis vel presentis, cum eam exibere non vult, vendere vel pignorare possit causa necessitates sue et liberorum et familie

  • 70 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 786.
  • 71 Formally the sales occurred pro necessitatis et indigentie.

29This article did not stipulate that wives were able to act freely: they could alienate property only with the oversight of a judge.70 However, notarial registers of the period spanning 1340 to 1420, contain numerous alienation acts (almost exclusively sales of immovables), concluded by women, which justify the sale by making reference to the article above.71 Invariably, these contracts fail to mention any permission given by a judge. Was this article of the Statuta used by Pisan married women to bypass the rule of the quarta? Since the article refers only to otherwise undefined necessitas, we certainly cannot discount that it may have been so, even if the contracts which I have analysed do not seem to involve women from the upper echelons of society. One thing, however, is clear: these alienations, whether legally justified or not, were done by women, mostly mothers, who, at least officially, were once again acting in their family’s best interests.

  • 72 Young unmarried women, were considered minors (in capillo), and were subjected to the potestas of (...)

30What about those women who were neither mothers nor married? We know that in medieval society female celibacy – just like male celibacy – had to be «justified» by a religious vocation. Other unmarried women (prostitutes, poor maidservants) lived on the fringes of society. According to the article Qualiter mulieribus permissum est alienare, only women who remained alone after their husband’s and children’s predecease could manage their own property. This was not an enviable condition: these women were usually quite old, and since they needed assistance, they often chose to enter a religious institution. Even very rich widows, just as Benegrande’s daughters (see Appendix 2), chose to follow this path as a solution to their plight.72

 

  • 73 See Carocci 1982 and Duval 2017.

31To sum up, I will just summarize how the Pisan case sheds light on the agency of medieval women. The fact that Pisan girls could inherit sizeable fortunes in case they had no brothers may seem surprising. However, as I have tried to show here, this provision was aimed at underscoring the centrality of the father – the paterfamilias – in the line of succession. Despite the concept of «Roman paternity» was deeply entrenched in society, medieval women played an important role in society. As mothers, wives and widows, Pisan women were allowed, and even required, to manage patrimonial goods, even if not on their own behalf. This importance given to women as «transitional» owners is perhaps a singular trait of the period under scrutiny. It shows the growing importance of the nuclear family (i.e. a small unit comprising parents and children), and especially of the married couple – an aspect which is remarkably evident in Pisan wills.73

Appendix 1 – Pisan hereditary succession

  • 74 The diagram does not take into account individual bequests, but only the obligation of the legitim (...)

Diagram A – Succession with sons, with or without will.74

Diagram A – Succession with sons, with or without will.74

© S. Duval.

Diagram B – Succession with daughters only (with or without a will).

Diagram B – Succession with daughters only (with or without a will).

S. Duval.

Appendix 2 – The Del Rosso Sisters

  • 75 See Morrona 1812, vol. 3, p. 173 (description of Benegrande’s grave in the church of San Michele).
  • 76 As stated in his daughters’ wills. His wife, simply named Francesca in their wills, had commission (...)
  • 77 Caterina was married to Francesco di Giovanni Pancaldi; Antonia to Francesco Orlandi; Margherita t (...)
  • 78 ASF NA, 3077, f. 86r-89r and 90r-92v.
  • 79 ASF NA 3077, f. 225r-228r.
  • 80 ASF NA 3077, f. 242v-245r.
  • 81 ASF NA 3077 f. 56v-57r; 78r-79r. Antonio died shortly after, as mentioned in his sister’s will Tom (...)
  • 82 ASF NA 3077 f. 85.
  • 83 Antonio did not leave any bequest, and stated that his mother could «do whatever she thinks best» (...)

32A very interesting and well-documented case is that of the three daughters of Benegrande di Balduccio del Rosso, a Pisan merchant who died in 1384. Benegrande lived in the Borgo (today Borgo Stretto), in the main street at the center of the city (on the right bank of the Arno). Benegrande was a prominent merchant, and a member of the cavalieri gaudenti.75 He was buried in close proximity to his house, in the church of San Michele in Borgo, near the altar he had commissioned, dedicated to St George.76 Benegrande had three daughters, Antonia, Caterina and Margherita. Although the girls were excluded from inheriting their share of their father’s business (Benegrande’s shop or fondacco had been bequeathed to his nephews, the sons of his bother Bacciameo), they still obtained a fair quota of their family’s estate, as their father’s legitimate heiresses. All three girls were married off to rich Pisan merchants.77 None of them, however, had any surviving children in 1407, when they began considering to whom to bequeath their patrimonium. At the time Antonia, perhaps the eldest, was living in the family house in the Borgo. She made her first will in May 1407, together with her sister Caterina.78 In April 1408, Caterina made her second will,79 in which she bequeathed her quota of the family house in the Borgo to her male cousins, Bacciameo’s three sons (Urbano, Giorgio and Simone). Antonia had already made the same bequest in her previous will. Finally, Margherita also expressed her last wishes in May 1408.80 Perhaps the youngest of the three sisters, at that time she was still married to Ranieri Gualandi. Following in the footsteps of her sisters, Margherita also inserted the same provision in her will, leaving the family house to her male cousins. The Del Rosso sisters seem to have convinced their cousins to likewise draw up their last wills: Giorgio’s and Antonio’s81 last dispositions date from March 1407. Their sister Tommasa, wife of Iacopo da San Casciano, followed their example in May 1407.82 All of them named their cousin Antonia executrix. Giorgio and Antonio, at the time probably in their late teens, made their mother Angelina Maggiolini their universal heir.83

33One should note that by law if the Del Rosso sisters died intestate, their whole estate would have been automatically transmitted to their male cousins. As childless widows, Caterina and Antonia could dispose of their property as they wished. The Del Rosso sisters, however, did not want to deprive their cousins of their fair share. On the contrary, this corpus of family wills, all written between May 1407 and May 1408, are an attempt to «save» the patrimonium of the family. This story must be read against the backdrop of the political context of the time. In the closing months of 1406, Florence had managed to conquer Pisa. The bitter loss induced thousands of Pisans, and especially the richer ones, to flee the city. By bequeathing their family home to their male cousins Benegrande’s daughters were trying to convince them to remain there. According to the wills of the three sisters, in fact, Bacciameo’s sons would obtain their shares of the house on one condition: the three had to return to Pisa and live in the city, and neither one of them should live ad stipendium.

  • 84 Dated November 15, 1408. ASF NA 3078 f. 63r-65v.
  • 85 She asked to be buried with her father in San Michele.
  • 86 Among other houses and lands, Caterina had a domus magna in Vico.
  • 87 On Margherita and Antonia as oblates and, in Antonia’s case, also as novice, see Duval 2015, p. 41 (...)
  • 88 ASPi, Ospedali di Santa Chiara, 2092, f. 112. She bequeathed to her cousins a shop in the center of (...)

34In the months that followed, it became clear that the del Rosso brothers had no intention of settling back in the city. In another will dated November 1408,84 Caterina del Rosso chose not to bequeath her portion of the family house to her male cousins. Instead she provided them with a pension, under the same condition mentioned above. Caterina probably died shortly after. Like her sister Antonia, she wanted to be buried with her husband, but her will elucidates that she feared this would not be possible due to a dispute with her late husband’s relatives who had failed to restore her dowry.85 The wills of the Del Rosso show us that the sisters were very rich, and their non-dotal property must have been far more consistent than their dowries. Apart from their estates in Pisa, they also possessed several houses and parcels of land in Vico Pisano.86 After Caterina’s death, the two surviving sisters, Antonia and Margherita, entered the pious circles of the new religious community of San Domenico.87 In her second will, written in September 1412 in the house of the oblates (domus conversarum) adjacent to the monastery, Antonia established the nuns of San Domenico as her universal heirs.88 She died a few years later, during her novitiate. Margherita as well became an oblate, along with her husband Ranieri, and spent the rest of her life in the monastery.

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Bibliographie

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Duval 2018 = S. Duval, Les testaments, l’usure, les statuts. L’exemple de Pise au XIVe siècle, in D. Lett (ed.), Statuts communaux et circulations documentaires dans les sociétés méditerranéennes de l’Occident (XIIe-XVe siècle), Paris-Trieste, 2018, p. 115-133.

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La Rocca 2011 = M.C. La Rocca, Donne e uomini, parentele e memoria tra storia, archeologia e genetica. Un progetto interdisciplinare per il futuro, in Archeologia medievale, 38, 2011, p. 9-18.

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Notes

1 For an introduction, see Grossi 1995.

2 The Pisan Statuta were reformed one last time in 1516. See Era 1922, in part, p. 10. For the contents of the 1337 amendments, see below n. 8 and 43.

3 See Feci 2004, p. 31: «Gli statuti di Pisa e di Ascoli mettono chiaramente in luce come a comandare il vincolo alla capacità di agire delle donne è lo stato civile, e precisamente la condizione coniugale e quella materna della contraente».

4 I have gathered the information from 630 Pisan wills into a database; I also used several notarial documents concerning enforcement and/or contestations of last wills dating from 1340 to 1420. See Duval 2017.

5 The content of this article derives from Lombard law, see Storti Storchi 1998, p. 70-77.

6 For the text of the Statuta, Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 782.

7 All women who reached their legal majority. See below, n. 85.

8 Other goods, besides the dowry, are linked to marriage. The antefactum or donamenta derives from Lombard tradition, it was a kind of insurance for women in case of widowhood. During the period under scrutiny, the antefactum had become a symbolic gift, involving paltry sums of money. The guarnimentis (trousseau) or teneri, instead, are a complex topic: some of them were brought by the wife (mainly linens and furnishings), they were to be restored to the woman and her heirs, but were subject to the normal consumptio (wear and tear) since these were used daily. The gifts of the husband instead (mainly jewels, in Pisa, rings and belts especially) had to be restored to the widow. The Ordinamenta Nova of 1337 modified this use: domestic objects had to be divided among the husband’s heirs and those of the wife if they were childless; for what concerns gifts: those given before marriage were returned entirely to the widow, while only gifts valued under 15 lire which had been given in marriage were restored to the widow. See Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 746-747; and Era 1922, p. 54, 95.

9 See Duval 2017, part 2.

10 Excerpt from the opening section of the article De successione ab intestato, Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 768.

11 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, Constitutum Legis, articles XXXI-XXXVI.

12 The Justinianean legitima was introduced in Pisan law in 1167, see Storti Storchi 1998 p. 81.

13 These proportions are quite different from those prescribed by Justinianean law (Novella 18) from which this juridical concept originates, see https://droitromain.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/; and Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 767. On the medieval legitima, especially for what concerns Florence, see Kuehn 2012. The Pisan legitima is largely similar to the «heir reserve» stipulated in the French and Italian Civil codes, both originating from the Napoleonic civil code, which is still in force today. See Peguera Poch 2009.

14 See the example of Parassone Grassi, whose wills exclude specifically his nephew from his inheritance, which instead was passed to the Opera del Duomo. Archivio di Stato di Pisa [henceforth: ASPi], Opera del Duomo, 39, f. 2014r-211v, and Duval 2017.

15 That is, first cousins (following the male line: the sons of the paternal uncles). They are usually called germani in the wills. The base line for intestate inheritances established that if no agnates survived, cognate relatives inherited, but with some restrictions. Spouses could inherit reciprocally only if no other relative survived; this possibility ranked penultimate, just before the Pisan Republic, which would collect the inheritance in case there were no surviving relatives at all.

16 The two articles of the Statuta concerning the legitima and the goods a woman had the right to alienate/bequeath are symmetrical: the three fourths of legitima which mothers had to transmit to their children correspond to the fourth part they could freely bequeath. See Bonaini, vol. 2, p. 767 and 782-783. According to these two articles, even widows had to transmit three fourths of their goods to their sons (or daughters, if they had no sons) at the time of their death (tempore mortis). The rule differs slightly for what concerns dowries. In this case, the portion would be transmitted to the children born out of the marriage the dowry was granted for.

17 In Florence the statutes were reformed in 1325, and then 1415. Details in Chabot 2011 (p. 13-16).

18 In Venice, this system allowed families to bestow upon daughters sizeable dowries, without depriving sons of the patrimonial estates (mainly immovables). See Bellavitis 1995, and Chabot 2005. Of course Pisan women did leave legacies to other women, but these bequests responded less to intergenerational logics, than to specific situations. On female wills, see also Brolis – Zonca 2012 and Sorelli 2015.

19 Even if the daughters’ rights to inheritance were curbed from the 14th century onward, especially in Italy. For Siena see Lumia-Ostelli 2003, for Venice Bellavitis 1995 and 2008.

20 Fathers and mothers were obliged to do so in virtue of the legitima law, unless they had previously stated in their wills which goods had to be considered as legitim.

21 Such wills were invalidated only if contested in front of a judicial authority. The wills I have collected, however, contain a «reasonable» proportion of heiresses: 28% of fathers’ and mothers’ wills established females as universal heiresses. See Duval 2017.

22 Contrary to Roman civil law, Pisan law allowed testators to write a testament without specifying the heir. I believe that this is a consequence of the importance of the legitima (if the testators had children). However wills in which no heir is mentioned disappear around the mid-14th century: I found only one such case out of 630 wills. On this topic, see Rava 2016.

23 It should be noted that the word parapherna is used in wills and we can find it in the consilia written on the margins of the Statuta, but not in the Statuta themselves. See below n. 37.

24 Some fathers excluded the family house (especially towers), or their commercial/artisan shop (fondacco) from the part of inheritance they intended to transmit to their daughters. This allowed them to keep immovables within their family, through collaterals.

25 On the legal problem of the equivalence of dowry and a «female» legitima, see Kuehn 2012. In Pisa (like other cities), the dowry was part of but did not constitute the entire legitim. The dowry was a right of each daughter, irrespective of the presence of male siblings.

26 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 754.

27 At the time Tommaso had only a son, an infant, whom he declared his heir. However, his wife was pregnant, so in drawing up his will, Tommaso envisaged all the possible outcomes in case his son and heir died in childhood. In this case, and if the newborn was a girl, she would receive an inheritance of 1000 florins. She would additionally receive a dowry of 400 florins irrespective of the inheritance. ASPi Diplomatico, Primaziale, 7 October 1361 (Pisan dating system).

28 Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Notarile Antecosimiano [henceforth ASF] NA 290, f. 86r-90r.

29 As his son’s daughter, Guiduccia had the same right to the legitima as her aunts. See below, diagram B.

30 ASPi, Opera del Duomo, 1293.

31 Cecco had given his daughter Angela, the nun, a dowry of 350 lire; to his married daughter Giovanna, 1000 lire, and to his granddaughter Guiduccia, 1500 lire. The Statuta stipulate that dowries had to be «congruent», but, unlike the legitima, dowries bestowed upon sisters did not necessarily need to be equal.

32 See below, Appendix 2.

33 That is: they could do so (they could sell the goods for their own benefit, in utilitatem suam), but they were obliged, or their heir(s) on their behalf, to reimburse the women, or their heirs, with other goods of the same value.

34 ASPi, Ospedali di Santa Chiara, 2092, f. 134r/1.

35 The note recording the consilium is not dated, but it was inserted between two pages bearing acts from the year 1417 (1418 by Pisan dating system).

36 For example in the ms. Comune A, 18ter, f. 94r.

37 Totam actionem de dote et de parafernis et de antefactis et de donamentis […] ad leges ponimus (Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 840). For what concerns Pisa, therefore, the word parapherna should be used with care. The Statuta consider assets inherited by women as «patrimonial». On the other goods (gifts and trousseau) see above note 8.

38 On non-dotal assets (in Florence) see Kirshner 2015.

39 ASF NA 18800, f. 38r-38r.

40 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 786-787.

41 Rava 2016, p. 220.

42 The formulary which notaries commonly used is: [uxor mea] sit domina et usufructaria omnes bonorum meorum donec vidua [sometimes innupta] steterit et lectum meum et suum caste serverit, and in case there were children: et filios meos (et suos) custodire voluerit. This right/duty of usufructaria et domina was cancelled if a widow remarried, and thus upon restoration of the dowry, usually mentioned in another clause.

43 This does not mean that she lost her rights over her dowry – by law this was impossible. This «arrangement» enabled the family to keep those parts of the estate that were destined to pass to the children within the patrimony. As Chabot has shown, the widow became a «creditor» of her husband’s family. The debt was cancelled when a dowry (or the equivalent goods) was transmitted to the heirs. See Chabot 2011, chapter VIII. On Genoa, see Petti Balbi 2010. In 1337, the article concerning dowry restoration was modified: the dowry had to be reimbursed «immediately» (statim) upon the husband’s predecease, and not, as previously stipulated in the Statuta, one year later. This modification underscores the fact that dowry restoration was considered a pressing problem in Pisa.

44 Storti Storchi 1998, p. 71.

45 The widow had to agree on the extension of her usufruct with the heirs (if they were adults). Some testators specified that this right to benefit from the patrimony was to be used «appropriately».

46 Testators could named important religious institutions as substitutive heirs in order to make sure that the «real» heir behaved appropriately. If the heir failed to comply with the testator’s requests, he (or she) would be deprived of the inheritance by the appointed institution. This stratagem was not only used to protect the widows, but also to protect all those bequests to women which deserved a special warranty. See the example of Sita, a female slave who managed to obtain a house bequeathed by her owner thanks to a substitutive clause in ASPi, Diplomatico, Primaziale, 31 October 1389 and Opera del Duomo, 35, f. 156v-160 v, 36, f. 22r.

47 Some wills show that, husbands were aware that young widows were more likely to remarry. See for example the will of Piero Benvenuti (ASPi, Diplomatico, Nicosia, 30 May 1372) who asked his servant to stay with his underage children tamquam femina antiqua. He appointed his wife guardian of the children, alongside other women (among whom was his widowed sister) and men. 

48 Spouses were allowed to bequeath only 15 lire to each other. The fact that this kind of devolution was defined as a usufructus prevented women from bequeathing these goods to anyone they wanted: this right pertained only to the heir. A widow could act only as usufructaria of her deceased husband. See the example of Martino da Palaia in Duval 2018.

49 Childless persons usually left more bequests to pious institutions less because they did not have anyone to whom to grant a legitima, than because in the absence of descendants, the «chain» of prayers (and memory) would be broken.

50 On usury, see Duval 2018.

51 ASF NA 3081, f. 81v-85v. The usufruct was divided into two parts: Nense could keep all her belongings and personal items, the other goods instead had to be used for this pious aim. Elsewhere in the will Bartolomeo asks his heir (a male relative, maybe a cousin) to eam [Nensem] reveri, et eidem honore facere, prout si viverem, et in predictis omnibus [about the usufruct] facere ipsius domine Nensis voluntatem.

52 On the executores see Duval 2013.

53 This estimate is based on my database, see n. 4.

54 For Florence, see Chabot 2011, p. 275-278.

55 For the role of widows in testamentary execution, see in particular the registers of the Executor Testamentorum, in the Archivio Diocesano di Pisa (see Duval 2013). Husbands too were frequently named as executors in their wife’s wills.

56 It was suppressed at the end of the 12th century, probably because of the progressive process of integration of Roman civil law into the Pisan Statuta. See Storti Storchi 1998, p. 72.

57 I never found any document showing a Pisan woman acting in her own name as a trader (investing, selling merchandise, concluding trading deals, lending money). This does not mean that specific cases will not be discovered in other sources in the future.

58 Because very often (but not always) they were also the children’s guardians.

59 On this topic see Feci 2008.

60 70,5% of married testators with children. The real proportion could be higher since I could not insert in my database information on whether the heirs had reached their majorities or if they were still underage.

61 The article De tutoribus et curatoribus recalls that mothers and grandmothers, according to Roman Law, had to be admitted as guardians of their children (Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 733-740). According to Pisan law, female guardians had to be assisted by male co-tutors – however wills show that this was not always the case.

62 See Duval 2017.

63 That is the bothers of the testator. This is a rare case in which uncles appear in Pisan testaments. This phenomenon could be explained by the fact that in aristocratic families, wives were often younger than in other social groups (the age difference between husband and wife was greater), and they usually remarried quickly.

64 See Poloni 2004.

65 Klapisch-Zuber 1983.

66 Feci 2008, p. 87.

67 ASPi Diplomatico, Primaziale, 14 January 1419. All the acts were written during the year 1419: the will is dated 14 January 1419, the legal procedures date from January 26 (confirmation of the guardians by the podestà), February 15 (post mortem inventory), September 11 (appointment of a legal representative, a procurator, by the three guardians).

68 Testators «ranked» their children’s legal guardians from the most important (those who retained decisional power) to the less important (those who could be present if necessary).

69 Wills are full of recommendations addressed by testators to their heirs and more generally to those who would be responsible for their family’s well-being and estate after their death. These did not have any legal value, but a moral one.

70 Bonaini 1870, vol. 2, p. 786.

71 Formally the sales occurred pro necessitatis et indigentie.

72 Young unmarried women, were considered minors (in capillo), and were subjected to the potestas of their father (or brother), who managed their property (if they had any). The article Qualiter mulieribus does not refer to them, their case is addressed in the article on minors. It is interesting to notice that Pisan Statuta use the Lombard expression in capillo for underage girls, whereas they use the Roman term filiusfamilias for underage boys. See La Rocca 2011.

73 See Carocci 1982 and Duval 2017.

74 The diagram does not take into account individual bequests, but only the obligation of the legitima and the devolution ab intestato.

75 See Morrona 1812, vol. 3, p. 173 (description of Benegrande’s grave in the church of San Michele).

76 As stated in his daughters’ wills. His wife, simply named Francesca in their wills, had commissioned an altar in the Pisan church of San Felice.

77 Caterina was married to Francesco di Giovanni Pancaldi; Antonia to Francesco Orlandi; Margherita to Ranieri Gualandi.

78 ASF NA, 3077, f. 86r-89r and 90r-92v.

79 ASF NA 3077, f. 225r-228r.

80 ASF NA 3077, f. 242v-245r.

81 ASF NA 3077 f. 56v-57r; 78r-79r. Antonio died shortly after, as mentioned in his sister’s will Tommasa (ref. below).

82 ASF NA 3077 f. 85.

83 Antonio did not leave any bequest, and stated that his mother could «do whatever she thinks best» (sicut videbitur et placebit) for his soul.

84 Dated November 15, 1408. ASF NA 3078 f. 63r-65v.

85 She asked to be buried with her father in San Michele.

86 Among other houses and lands, Caterina had a domus magna in Vico.

87 On Margherita and Antonia as oblates and, in Antonia’s case, also as novice, see Duval 2015, p. 419-421 and 525. A sizeable portion of their patrimony was transmitted to the monastery.

88 ASPi, Ospedali di Santa Chiara, 2092, f. 112. She bequeathed to her cousins a shop in the center of Pisa to be held only vita durante.

 

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Table des illustrations

Titre Diagram A – Succession with sons, with or without will.74
Crédits © S. Duval.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/mefrm/docannexe/image/4057/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 88k
Titre Diagram B – Succession with daughters only (with or without a will).
Crédits S. Duval.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/mefrm/docannexe/image/4057/img-2.jpg
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Sylvie Duval, « Women and wealth in late medieval Pisa (c. 1350-1420) », Mélanges de l’École française de Rome - Moyen Âge, 130-1 | -1, 137-150.

Référence électronique

Sylvie Duval, « Women and wealth in late medieval Pisa (c. 1350-1420) », Mélanges de l’École française de Rome - Moyen Âge [En ligne], 130-1 | 2018, mis en ligne le 30 octobre 2018, consulté le 15 février 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/mefrm/4057 ; DOI : 10.4000/mefrm.4057

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Sylvie Duval

Fondation Thiers/CIHAM, duvalsylvie@hotmail.com

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