Dept of History, Classics and Archaeology | Our research | Research Projects | AR.C.H.I.ves: A comparative history of archives in late medieval and early modern Italy
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AR.C.H.I.ves: A comparative history of archives in late medieval and early modern Italy

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/history/archives

A comparative history of archives in late medieval and early modern Italy – studying their formation, organization and maintenance, from the creation of the first chanceries in medieval city-states to the transformation of archives into objects of scholarship in the nineteenth century.

Italy has some of the largest documentary repositories of the world. Before becoming research sites for historians, these archives were put together over the centuries by institutions as tools of government and power.

Funded by the European Research Council, the ARCHIves project (2012-2016, £962,669) studied the rationale, the principles and the intended (and unintended) uses presiding over the formation, organization and maintenance of archives in Italy, from the creation of the first chanceries in medieval city-states to the transformation of archives into objects of scholarship in the nineteenth century.

The project team, led by Dr Filippo de Vivo, studied the history of the archives and of the chanceries that oversaw their production, storage and organization in late medieval and early modern Italy. The project aimed to break new ground:

  • firstly, we adopted a comparative approach through the in-depth analysis of seven case studies – Milan, Venice, Modena, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Palermo;
  • secondly, we contextualised the study of archives away from institutional history in a wider social and cultural context, by focusing on six themes: the politics, organization and material culture of archives, the social characteristics of chancery staff, the social impact of chancery activity and the use of archives by pre-modern historians.

The six themes were analysed in successive phases. In each phase, a team of three researchers collected sources from the case studies on the basis of broadly similar research questions. Two PhD students worked, respectively, on the material culture of documents and on the archival work of pre-modern historians. We planned a series of events, including workshops and seminars as well as a final conference. The project led to the completion of two PhD theses, specialised articles, a volume of essays and a monograph, as well as the publication of a major collection of sources, some of which will be made available online as we get on: please check back here for more!

The project team organised nine workshops and conferences in the UK, Italy and France (http://www.bbk.ac.uk/history/archives/events) and published several articles, a collection of essays (http://www.viella.it/libro/9788867284573), and a special issue of European History Quarterly (http://ehq.sagepub.com/content/46/3.toc)

For enquiries and comments related to the project. Please, contact: italianarchives@bbk.ac.uk

Visit our Academia page at: http://birkbeck.academia.edu/ARCHIvesProject


 

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