Many more documents survive from the early Middle Ages than from the Roman Empire. Although ecclesiastical archives may account for the dramatic increase in the number of surviving documents, this new investigation reveals the scale and spread of documentary culture beyond the Church. The contributors explore the nature of the surviving documentation without preconceptions to show that we cannot infer changing documentary practices from patterns of survival. Throughout Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages - from North Africa, Egypt, Italy, Francia and Spain to Anglo-Saxon England - people at all social levels, whether laity or clergy, landowners or tenants, farmers or royal functionaries, needed, used and kept documents. The story of documentary culture in the early medieval world emerges not as one of its capture by the Church, but rather of a response adopted by those who needed documents, as they reacted to a changing legal, social and institutional landscape.
Warren C. Brown is Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology. Marios Costambeys is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Liverpool. Matthew Innes is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. Adam J. Kosto is Professor of History at Columbia University.
1. Introduction; 2. Lay archives in the Late Antique and Byzantine East: the implications of the documentary papyri Peter Sarris; 3. Public administration, private individuals and the written word in Late Antique North Africa, c.284-700 Jonathan P. Conant; 4. Lay documents and archives in early Medieval Spain and Italy, c.400-700 Nicholas Everett; 5. The gesta municipalia and the public validation of documents in Frankish Europe Warren C. Brown; 6. Lay people and documents in the Frankish formula collections Warren C. Brown; 7. Archives, documents and landowners in Carolingian Francia Matthew Innes; 8. The production and preservation of documents in Francia: the evidence of cartularies Hans Hummer; 9. The laity, the clergy, the scribes and their archives: the documentary record of eighth- and ninth-century Italy Marios Costambeys; 10. Sicut mos esse solet: documentary practices in Christian Iberia, c.700-1000 Adam J. Kosto; 11. On the material culture of legal documents: charters and their preservation in the Cluny archive, ninth to eleventh centuries Matthew Innes; 12. Documentary practices, archives and lay people in central Italy (mid-ninth to eleventh centuries) Antonio Sennis; 13. Archives and lay documentary practice in the Anglo-Saxon world Charles Insley; 14. Conclusion.