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date: 25 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

In later medieval Europe, a rising tide of wealth changed the material regime and, with it, the relationships that defined the matrix of persons and things. Some of our best evidence for the changes afoot in the era can be found in the massive documentation generated by the legal institutions of the period. Featured in this chapter are household inventories and inventories of debt collection from the cities of Marseille and Lucca. Although the things found in these documents are not tangible, the approach known as “documentary archaeology” allows us to treat the words that describe them as fragments or traces left by things that once existed. Many of the things found in people’s houses were used for the purposes of social distinction, whether the individual pursuit of prestige or status, through competitive consumption and display, or a group’s pursuit of group identity, through the display of badges or totems that define membership in a group.

Keywords: Mediterranean Europe, later Middle Ages, Marseille, Lucca, household inventories, credit and debt, prestige, consumption, material habitat, documentary archaeology

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