By Marjorie Burghart
Opuscula: Short Texts of the Middle Age and Renaissance, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2012)
Introduction: The medieval principality of Savoy left historians an outstanding legacy: the corpus of account rolls of its castellanies, the base administrative units of medieval Savoy. With more than 20,000 accounts from the mid-thirteenth century to 1500, this collection reflects the many competencies of the castellan, the official of the count in charge of a castellany — maintenance of the castle and military duties, of course, but also collection of the various feudal revenues, repair of the banal buildings (ovens, mills, etc.) or other equipment (bridges, fish ponds, etc.), and judicial functions. The detailed accounts of those activities by the castellan breathe life into our picture of the communities, hamlets, villages, and towns.
The importance of the account rolls as a source for historians has long been understood, but the study is complicated by the division in several archives of a corpus once kept together in the capital of the principality of Savoy. The castellanie.net project, aimed at digitizing the rolls of accounts from several archives and making them available online from a single entry point, will facilitate research on this material.
The account edited here concerns Evian-Féternes, a “double-headed” castellany associating the two nearby towns of Evian and Féternes located in Chablais, on the southern shore of Lake Léman, in a medium-altitude mountain landscape. I chose this particular account for its very ordinariness to illustrate a type of source and exemplify its features at the end of the thirteenth century, a time when this record-keeping system was still relatively new but already well established.