The Ames Foundation

The Ames Foundation, under the literary directorship of Professor Charles Donahue, Jr., of the Harvard Law School, is pleased to announce the publication of the first volume in its new ‘eseries’:


edited by
Daniel Williman,
Professor of Latin and History Emeritus, Binghamton University
Karen Ann Corsano
private scholar of Cambridge, Massachusetts

Pursuant to a quite mysterious provision of canon law, vast amounts of treasure were seized by collectors of the papal Camera at Avignon from the estate of a worldly bishop of Lisboa after his death in 1356. Much of the treasure was shipped through the Strait of Gibraltar and captured by pirates. One of the pirate ships was wrecked near Montpellier, some of the treasure recovered, the pirate crew summarily executed, and the pirate officers sent off to the papal prison at Avignon, whence they were ultimately released after making composition with the Camera.

Over the course of almost fifty years, the editors have pieced together from the vast archive of the Avignonese papacy fifty-four documents that tell the story. Most of these documents, as one might expect of documents associated with the Camera, are accounts and inventories. In them we can trace the daily activities of the papal collectors and learn about the stunning amount of ‘stuff’ that the worldly bishop left behind him at his death. Scattered throughout the inventories of goods are lists of manuscripts. A network of mercantile transactions can be traced as agents of the bishop admit to what they owe or argue that they are owed more than they owe. Pieces of the story can be filled in from papal letters and other official letters, and, when used with caution, three sets of depositions. The documents not only tell this story, they also provide remarkable insights into how the most extensive of medieval bureaucracies worked.

The Latin text of the documents is transcribed in full interspersed with English summaries. Overall the volume contains 365 pages: 22 pages of “front matter” (preface, contents, introduction, tables of series in the Vatican Archives and of coinage used), 291 pages of text, and 51 pages of “back matter” (index of persons and places, index of topics, glossary). There are two pages of illustrations.

The work is published in two formats: a PDF online, which is one large file so that the hyperlinks will work and which carries the ISBN 978-1-941232-00-2, and a cloth-bound version, which carries the ISBN 978-1-941232-01-9. Both versions have the same page size and numeration. The cloth-bound version is bound in maroon and matches the traditional Ames format. The PDF version may be accessed here at no cost and through HeinOnline for those with access to a subscription. The cloth-bound version may be obtained from W. S. Hein & Co. To order click on Ordering Information.


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This page last updated 06/06/14 . Contact Rosemary Spang with comments.
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