Auscultauerint cum notario. Istrian Notaries and Vicedomini at the Time of the Republic of Venice (English version)

DAROVEC Darko, Auscultauerint cum notario. Istrian Notaries and Vicedomini at the Time of the Republic of Venice, Venice, Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina, 2015.


DAROVEC Darko, Auscultauerint cum notario. Istrian Notaries and Vicedomini at the Time of the Republic of Venice, Venice, Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina, 2015.


The present work comprises a supplement to a book in Slovenian entitled Notarjeva javna vera. Notarji in vicedomini v Kopru, Izoli in Piranu v obdobju Beneške republike (Notary’s Public Confidence: The Notaries and Vicedomini in Koper, Izola and Piran in the Time of the Venetian Republic), published in 1994 in the collection Library Annales of Historical Society of Southern Primorska in Koper. In its main statements, this supplement does not differ itself much from the previous work it is adduced to; however, in the meantime, some valuable additional studies on the topic of notaries for the majority of European countries were published; these have been used to supplement the present work. This circumstance enabled me to deepen some general facts in comparison to other environments as well as to expose specifics of execution and operation of notary offices within different legal practices, customs, and regions, which is especially noticeable in supplemented chapter on Ritual of Notarial investiture.

Notaries gained a special role in the era of the so-called renaissance of Roman law in the 12th and 13th centuries, as a consequence of the economic and political development of cities on Italic Peninsula and in neighbouring Mediterranean regions, by forming the first notary schools in 11th century, which became the basis for the establishment of the universities (Bologna 1150). They significantly contributed to the formation of urban legal structures by developing a class of important, independent legal vocations: judges, advocates, notaries. These individuals soon climbed the social ladder; while the majority were not of aristocratic origin, they soon came to occupy the upper social strata, especially thanks to the social and moral responsibility of their profession.

The specific focus of the present monograph is a study of the institution of vicedomini, which was formed in the 13th century to support public confidence in notary acts within the operation of the institution of the notary office in some Istrian towns at the time of their advancement and the establishment of autonomous governments in mediaeval cities, when from the 12th century onwards, they significantly intervened in the political space between the particularisation of secular and ecclesiastical government structures.

However, this specificity finds its examples in comparable city institutions along the Adriatic coastline, which additionally confirms the hypothesis that the legal praxis in the domain of the notary office was transplanted from Bologna, the intellectual, theoretical and practical centre of notary offices of that era – and this at a time long before Venetian rule in this region was established. As Bologna found its independence in operation of city notary office with its legal theoreticians and practitioners, starting particularly with Irnerius to Rainerius and Rolandinus, similar institutions and organs of city self-government also emerged in other cities and towns along the eastern Adriatic coast, with variability in the execution of public duties, as well as in the solemn names of their organs, demonstrating the mutual connections between the wider context and specific local and cultural traditions.

With the gradual expansion of Venetian rule on Istrian Peninsula from the end of 13th century onwards, some modifications took place in the operation of the urban notary office. However, vicedomini operated as special commune offices in significant Istrian towns (Muggia, Capodistria, Isola, Pirano, Pola and Trieste) until the Collegium of Notaries in Koper was established in 1598. City governments used vicedominal offices to establish public confidence in notary acts regardless of the fact that most of the notaries attained their privileges with investiture bestowed by the Palatine Counts, i.e. representatives/emissaries of the Imperial government. In cities, where vicedomini had special offices, the main ritual gesture of guaranteeing public confidence was a notary reading one of the written acts to the vicedominus out loud, at the end of which reading the notary act was recorded in the signature of one of the vicedomini who was listening with the notary (auscultauerint cum notario). The mere act resembles Roman antique tradition, where present witnesses, who supported public confidence in the acts, were read a written text by the notary (or scribe).

The duty of the vicedomini was not merely to support (communal) public confidence but also to store and sort the records (imbreviature) of the notary acts in special vicedominal books, which were kept at the municipal administration premises. As a consequence of the work of this office, numerous legal acts have been preserved that comprise an extremely rich basis for the cultural heritage of Istrian region and make an important contribution to the validation of specifics of mutual European cultural heritage and tradition.

Therefore, I decided to stress the specific role of Istrian vicedomini in the operation of the institution of the notary office, which was kept alive in city administrations well into what is defined as the modern age.
I consider it a special honour that this work is being published in three languages (Italian, English and Slovene) at the publishing house of the renowned University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, within the framework of the strategic project of Territorial cooperation Italy-Slovenia “Shared Culture”, co-ordinated by professor Claudio Povolo on behalf of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, to whom I express my sincere gratitude for all our previous creative cooperation.

I express to him my sincere gratitude also for our common realisation of another set of goals within this project: being granted a new research project, which thematically derives from cognitions of this book: “FAIDA. Feud and blood feud between customary law and legal process in mediaeval and early modern Europe. The case of the Upper-Adriatic area”. The research project was granted in concourse of the 7th Framework program Marie Skłodowska-Curie for established researchers and will be implemented in the years 2015 and 2016 at the Department of Humanities at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Therefore, I express sincere gratitude, not only to my supervisor, prof. Clau- dio Povolo, but also to the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, which accepted my candidature, and especially to the staff of the International Research Office (Ufficio Ricerca Internazionale), for a successful collaboration on both projects.

Darko Darovec

Čentur, 28 June 2014


Cum lampullo mantelli. The ritual of notarial investiture : example from Istria


DAROVEC Darko, “Cum lampullo mantelli. The ritual of notarial investiture : example from Istria”, Acta Histriae, 22 (3), 2014, p. 453-508



Based on the study of several documented testimonials concerning the dispute be- tween the inhabitants of Piran and the Capodistrian bishop in 1201, that also include statements describing the investiture of the notary, this article uses the comparative and (re)interpretative method to study the ritual of notarial investiture as it was exercised from the 12th century onwards in the area of the upper Adriatic and in the neighbouring Italian territories. The study is not only focused on the question of the notarial investiture but also ven- tures comparatively into other secular social spheres of the European medieval investiture rituals and states, showing that the rituals were conducted in accordance with the unified, three-part inner structure as described by Galbert of Brugge (1127): homage, fides, inves- titure. Although the investiture ceremonies for special social spheres differed one from an- other with regard to symbolic gestures, objects and words (phrases) and were transformed in accordance to social needs, the inner structure of the ritual was invariable whether it concerned the investitures of emperors, kings, vassals, knights, notaries or functionaries of the other social institutions that were rapidly beginning to take shape especially from the 13thcentury onwards; furthermore, the structure is also present in the judicial sphere. The origins of the medieval ritual are manifested in the ubiquitous divine transcendence whose door was flung wide open during the Carolingian-Ottonian period (8th-11th centuries) whereas the cultural roots of the ritual extend backwards into archaic communities. The study also indicates the role and the significance of notaries in the administration of governmental organs and especially in the formation of the governmental structures of autonomous cities, characteristically reflected in the investiture ritual. It was the mere investiture ritual, as it was developed from 12th century onwards, based on knights and notarial rituals, that opened the pathway towards the investitures in other social fields, especially in free vocations (artes liberales). The right to be invested was later also to be spread amongst the “common” subjects.

Keywords: investiture, notary, ritual, Middle Ages, Istria, Italy, Europe.

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