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Greek in Marriage, Latin in Giving: The Greek Community of Fourteenth-century Palermo and the Deceptive Will of Bonannus de Geronimo

Van Eyck - Arnolfini Marriage (1434)

Van Eyck - Arnolfini Marriage (1434)Greek in Marriage, Latin in Giving: The Greek Community of Fourteenth-century Palermo and the Deceptive Will of Bonannus de Geronimo

Jack Goodman (Western Michigan University)

The Hilltop Review: Volume 3 Issue 1 Fall, Article 8 (2009)

Abstract

This article explores some of the difficulties inherent in the discussion of medieval ethnicity. Early fourteenth-century Palermo was a city with a celebrated multi-ethnic Latin, Arabic, and Greek past, but by the 1300s, much had changed, with Latin culture eclipsing the others. However, two small Greek ethnic minorities persisted in this culture: one indigenous, descending from the ministers, notaries, and monks who thrived under twelfth-century Norman rule, and the other immigrant, composed primarily of Byzantine slaves and freed slaves. The second group is identified in the sources as grecus, while the indigenous Italo-Greeks cannot easily be located in the documentation.

The 1333 will of Bonannus de Geronimo appears to offer insights into the Italo-Greek population. Bonannus was not identified as a grecus, but this testament confirms that Bonnanus was married according to the Greek marriage rite. A close examination of his will, in the context of other Latin wills within the same notarial register, indicates that this was the will of a Latin, not an Italo-Greek. The will of Bonannus is an example of the difficulties of document interpretation with regard to medieval ethnicity, but similar in-depth document analysis is necessary to prove or disprove the Italo-Greek presence.

Click here to read this article from The Hilltop Review

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