From a collections standpoint, DALME’s main activity is to prepare editions of previously unedited inventories and other lists of objects from a number of European archives. We also re-publish existing editions of records from a number of locales. We are grateful to publishers who have granted us the necessary permission to re-publish editions in copyright.
Currently, our collections are grouped into two corpora, The Household Inventories of Medieval Europe and The Object as Commodity. Each is based on different record types, and allow scholars to pursue distinct, though complementary, research goals.
This is the principal corpus in the DALME environment, comprising collections of secular and ecclesiastical inventories from many regions of Europe. The corpus highlights assemblages of objects that may be seen and studied in their use context. The collections in this corpus can be used in many ways and are especially valuable to scholars interested in approaches that involve identifying patterns detectable in assemblages, such as relative frequency, co-occurrence, and co-location.
The collections within this corpus are composed of several types of household or estate inventories originating from a number of European regions and dating to the centuries between 1250 and 1500 or thereabouts. The majority of these records are probate or post-mortem inventories of various descriptions. These were generated by the processes associated with the transmission of an estate from a deceased individual to his or her heirs. Inventories were generated by other legal processes, including the insolvency of a debtor, the seizure of assets of a fugitive criminal, the divisions of an estate, and certain dowry contracts where the bride had already inherited an estate and used the dowry contract to record items being assigned to her husband. Ecclesiastical inventories were often generated in the context of visitations, whenever benefices were transferred, or whenever there were doubts about the state of the possessions. Inventories in this corpus describe a substantial proportion of the objects in a given house, castle, or church. Most importantly, the objects are typically described in their spatial and/or use context. This feature allows objects to be analyzed alongside other objects in the estate or church.
A major ongoing effort is to develop our second corpus, which focuses on partial or fragmentary lists of objects. This corpus highlights isolates, that is to say objects that have been removed from their use context and placed in a commodity context. Isolates are valuable for the insights they reveal about singular objects and their attributes.
Many records in this emerging corpus will consist of lists of objects that have prices or values associated with them or (alternatively) are listed in text primarily for their commodity value. These records are distinct from the inventories in the Household Inventories corpus because they do not necessarily contain a complete list of the contents of a household and derive from different kinds of sources.
One of the major collections included in this corpus consists of records of debt collection from the city of Lucca between 1333 and 1342, comprising over 2,500 records. The DALME team expects to incorporate approximately 1,000 records of object values from Marseille within a year and is currently working with a team of scholars in Italy to expand the coverage of this corpus. Certain records, such as inventories of insolvent estate that provide object values,, appear in both corpora.