IMC 2005: Sessions

Session 110: Destroying Documents in the Middle Ages: Norms, Practices, and Meanings

Monday 11 July 2005, 11.15-12.45

Organiser:Antonio Sennis, Department of History, University College London
Moderator/Chair:Rosamond McKitterick, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge
Paper 110-aBonfire of the Profanities: Burning Books in Late Antiquity
(Language: English)
Caroline Humfress, Department of History, Classics & Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London
Index terms: Law, Mentalities, Social History
Paper 110-b'Had it been favourable to me I would hardly have thrown it into the fire': Destroying Charters in the Early Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Antonio Sennis, Department of History, University College London
Index terms: Charters and Diplomatics, Law, Mentalities, Social History
Paper 110-cUses and Abuses of Oblivion: Destruction of Documents in Late Medieval Italy
(Language: English)
Amedeo de Vincentiis, Dipartimento di Studi per la Conservazione & la Valorizzazione dei Beni Storici & Artistici, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo
Index terms: Charters and Diplomatics, Law, Mentalities, Social History
Abstract

When considered by historians, destructions of documents have generally been either dismissed as acts of barbaric and savage fury, irreparable by-products of ignorance, or interpreted as deliberate, and non-historical because immutable in their essence, attempts to conceal the truth, to manipulate memory for strategic reasons.
The aim of this session is to show that documents could be, and were, destroyed for a greater variety of motives. If studied as a fluid and complex phenomenon, whose norms, practices and meanings could change within social groups and over time, the destruction of documents can therefore shed light on some relevant aspects of medieval societies.