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Bequests of Late Medieval Dalmatian Testators as a Source for Study of Some Aspects of Everyday Life and Material Culture

Zoran Ladić

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 564 Kb

str. 1-28

preuzimanja: 1.168



Late medieval Dalmatian last wills are a rich source of data for research into the piety, material culture and everyday life of the denizens of Dalmatian communes. Just as Dalmatian testators of the eleventh and the twelfth century, mostly members of the urban nobility and highly positioned clergy, left rich landed and monetary bequests for religious purposes, so from the middle of the thirteenth century testators belonging to other social strata started to donate to ecclesiastical and civil institutions and individuals. The expansion of will-recording among the members of lower communal social strata (ordinary cives, habitatores and districtuales) caused also a greater diversity in the types of testamentary bequests. One reason for that was the fact that these testators did not have a lot of land or money to bequeath, and were thus forced to donate some other types of bequests. On the other hand, another cause of the greater diversity of bequests lay in the fact that, because of the growth of urban life and new directions within Christianity, there emerged new groups of recipients of pious bequests, which had their specific needs. Poorer testators were forced to bequeath cloth and food (particularly cereals), while the recipients of such bequests – the urban poor, the mendicants and the hermits, and city hospitals – were in need of precisely such things. Finally, even the richer testators became inclined, instead of lending ready money, to bequeath objects, at that time precious, of everyday use, such as books, liturgical objects, paintings or even altars, which fact was also a result of the cultural level and artistic taste of the communal elite. Of course, the recipients of such more precious bequests were specifically chosen, and they were individuals belonging to the urban clergy, or communal ecclesiastical institutions such as monasteries, convents or churches. It is also noteworthy that towards the end of the Middle Ages the increase in the number of such bequests donated for pious purposes is clearly visible, which illustrates the increase in the standard of living in Dalmatian communes of that period. It is also important that all these trends mentioned above were indiscriminately followed by male and female testators belonging to all social strata.

Ključne riječi

Dalmatia, the Late Middle Ages, everyday life, material culture

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