Jews in the notarial culture : latinate Wills in Mediterranean Spain, 1250-1350.
Burns, Robert I.
Berkeley: University of California Press,1996. Orig. cloth binding. Dustjacket. x,267 pp.
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- In the rapidly transforming world of thirteenth-century Mediterranean Spain, the all-purpose scribe and contract lawyer known as the notary became a familiar figure. Most legal transactions of the Roman Law Renaissance were framed in this functionary's notoriously hasty shorthand. Notarial archives, then, offer a remarkable window on the daily life of this pluri-ethnic society. Robert I. Burns brings together the testimony of a multitude of documents, and transcribes in full nearly fifty will-related charters prepared by notaries, to give a never-before-seen view of Jewish society in that place and time. Wills can display the religious conscience, ethical institutions, social mobility, and property dynamics of whole groups or regions. Even a single testament allows a glimpse into the testator's family and into the life and times of the living person. Burns devotes special attention to women in wills and to women's wills, extracting rich information on medieval women and gender relationships. While learning much about the role of kings and courts and the dynamics of Christian-Jewish relations, the reader also gains rare insights into a unique Jewish community.
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