Das Phänomen Herrscherkanzlei im mittelalterlichen Serbien

Vujošević, Žarko (2020) Das Phänomen Herrscherkanzlei im mittelalterlichen Serbien. Archiv für Diplomatik, Schriftgeschichte, Siegel- und Wappenkunde, 66. pp. 239-276. ISSN 0066-6297

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The aim of this paper has been to gain an insight into the nature of medieval Serbian royal documents and the circumstances of their creation as well as to propose a reconstruction of the organisation and modus operandi of the scribal service that produced them. Due to specific historical and scholarly factors, the results are based primarily on an analysis of the internal features of the documents and on a comparison with selected “chancery models” from Western Europe and Byzantium. The analysis concerns the area of medieval Serbia in the period when the surviving material was created (late 12th – mid-15th c.). For this period of time, 325 relevant documents (charters als well as letters) were identified. The term “chancery” is used purely in accordance with convention, not only because it finds no support in the sources, but also due to results of the research: these require an understanding of the phenomenon of the Serbian royal chancery as a pre-bureaucratic structure, in which improvisation and ad hoc solutions in drawing up and issuing documents were much more the rule than the exception. A marked preponderance of charters over letters reveals the importance of the former as unique and permanent proofs of ownership or of a granted right. Analysis of the originals (about 55% of the material) and secondary tradition shows both that the issuers made neither copies nor registers of the documents, and that a considerable share of diplomatic production lied on recipients. According to its effects and scope, the documentary practice was not operated by an organisational unit of the state apparatus, but depended mostly on the ruler’s active political involvement in a given area and on various given factors. In terms of its output, the Serbian “chancery” lagged far behind the contemporary, or even much older, European comparative models. Being inseparable from the person of the ruler, the “chancery” also acted partly by means of oral orders and agreements. Its formal framework, such as places of issuing and creators of documents, as well as their selected internal features (proems, intitulationes, signatures) also give an accurate representation of the diversity of form and content. Members of the ruler’s entourage of different ranks and responsibilities (scribes, logothetes, protovestiarioi, noblemen, clerics) have been identified as having been involved in the production of diploma. They operated as needed and depending on the nature of a given legal transaction and the individual recipients. Indeed it is not until the mid-14th c. that the first traces of an organised structure headed by a logothete becomes discernible. This logothete, as “first minister”, was responsible for relations with major domestic and foreign powers. Yet, not even then did this flexible writing office deem it necessary to standardise its own “products”, but continued to use a more pragmatic approach. This is especially noticeable in the Greek and Latin documents, which were drafted entirely in conformity with the Byzantine and Western patterns respectively. In the period of political crisis before the Ottoman conquest, there was no time left for the royal chancery to develop into an institution comparable to contemporary models existing elsewhere in Europe

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
Depositing User: Slavica Merenik
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2023 14:27
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2023 12:01
URI: http://rih.iib.ac.rs/id/eprint/1153

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