Marta Gravela

Classifying the miserabiles. The fiscal certification of inequalities in late medieval Italy

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Inequality, Poverty, Medieval Italy, Fiscal sources.

In late medieval Italian cities allocation of direct tax burdens required the creation of appropriate lists of taxpayers, with their fiscal evaluation (estimi). By scrutinising an estimo drawn up in Turin in 1393 and comparing it to other Italian estimi, the classification schemes emerging from fiscal practices and their role in reproducing social hierarchies are here explored. In particular, the paper focuses on the classification of inhabitants as miserabiles, nichil habentes or, more generally, fiscally poor – a large and heterogeneous category of people identified by fiscal exemption. Taking into account the criteria underlying this scheme (not only people’s wealth, but also their specific assets, their job, gender, household structure, and stability), the paper aims to show the wide scope of the estimi. Beyond their financial purpose, these documents became a means to officially mark the various degrees of socio-political inclusion in the civic community.

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