Fiscal Estate in Medieval Italy: Continuity and Change (9th - 12th centuries)

PRIN 2017


The aim of the project is to study the economic and patrimonial dimension of public power in the High Middle Ages, by exploring the relations between religious and political institutions and the structures of the Kingdom of Italy in the post-Carolingian age. In particular, the project intends to study the relation between the status of the fiscal estates endowed and received over the course of the 10th and 11th centuries, and the survival of a public dimension associated with the ownership of such estates: from the forms of acquisition and management of public curtes in the 11th and 12th centuries to the status of monastic patrimonies in the Po Valley, and the redefinition of urban communities as public institutions in the 12th century.

The Bologna research unit will carry out a systematic survey on the presence of royal fiscal estates in charters and placita from northern Italy, with a special focus on the Cremona area, which is particularly valuable from a documentary standpoint, not least thanks to the Codex Siccardi. The research further entails three specific analyses of the estates attached to the monasteries of San Sisto di Piacenza, Nonantola, and St. Maria of Pomposa. The deeds from St. Sisto have been dispersed across different archives (Cremona, Piacenza, Pavia): a virtual reconstruction of the monastery's archive would represent a first, fundamental step to retrace the extensive fiscal estates assigned to the monastery by Empress Engelberga at the time of its foundation. By contrast, the documentation for Nonantola has not been dispersed, yet only that pertaining to the 9th century has been published in the ChLA. The currently ongoing publication of the 10th-century documents enables a well-defined survey, on public documents and on deeds. Finally, thanks to the recent publication of the deeds from St. Maria of Pomposa, we now have documents from this monastery for the period up to the mid-11th century, which provide some crucial evidence for a comparative study of the management of fiscal estates in the Exarchate and in the Kingdom of Italy.

This research requires a complete charting of the estates attached to royal monasteries, which will be identified and georeferenced. Based on the map that will have been produced, the archaeological team of the Bologna unit will carry out a systematic survey of published excavations conducted in the areas under scrutiny, along with a field survey of the less investigated areas, with the aim of determining the economic nature of these estates by comparing the evidence obtained with the models developed for Tuscany.

Project duration

36 months (2020-2023)

Local supervisor, Scientific supervisor for the Department
Tiziana Lazzari

Local research unit staff
Erika Cinello 
Enrico Cirelli  
Filippo Ribani
Lorenzo Tabarrini
Irene Vagionakis
Giacomo Vignodelli

National responsible
Massimo Vallerani (Università di Torino)

Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna (Italy)
Università di Torino (Italy)
Università di Pisa (Italy)
Università di Roma Tre (Italy)

The project Fiscal Estate in Medieval Italy has partnerships with:

PATRIMONIVM is a scientific research initiative funded by the European Research Council. It aims at conducting the first comprehensive and multidisciplinary study of the political, social and economic role of the properties of the Roman emperors from Octavian/Augustus to Diocletian. More details on the project can be found at

The Centro di Ricerca Interdipartimentale on Digital Humanities of the Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia has digitised the manuscript and photographic materials of libraries and archives, which have been catalogued through the Progetto Lodovico:

Euro 352.600

2nd level ERC sectors **:

“SH6 The Study of the Human Past: Archaeology and history” (12 III level)