The records of debt collection from the city of Lucca and its region provides extensive information about the social, legal, and economic processes whereby objects were converted into commodities and put into circulation. The set was identified by Smail during archival work beginning in 2007. The set was first transcribed in 2012-13, and corrected and extensively re-edited in 2018-19. It consists of about 2,600 records listing objects that court criers, acting in the interests of creditors, had seized from the households of debtors in Lucca and its district between 1333 and 1342. The data are especially rich, given that each act of plunder typically identifies a creditor, the crier, and one or more debtors, both male and female; a debt and (often) a reason for that debt; a set of objects and the place from which they were seized; a date of seizure; and the name and residence of the "bailee" or official to whom the objects were temporarily consigned before being handed over to the creditor or sold at auction.
The late medieval holdings of Tuscan archives include extensive information about many processes pertaining to credit, debt, and object values. The Archivio di Stato di Lucca may be unusual for the number of records it has preserved that describe the final stage of debt collection, the moment at which criers of the court (nuncii) were sent to plunder the houses, storerooms, workshops, farms, or fields of debtors who had failed to respond satisfactorily to their creditors' claims. Records from the courts of Lucca have been studied extensively by scholars over the years, including Michael Bratchel, Christine Meek, Duane Osheim, Alma Poloni, and So Nakaya.
Records recording the final stage of collection, called libri predarum or "Books of Plunders" by the notaries of the courts, survive in dozens of registers from Lucca from the 1330s and 1340s. The current set features a sample of six registers from the years 1333 to 1342, an unusual decade during which the formerly independent signoria of Lucca fell under Florentine and then Pisan domination, the latter of which lasted until 1369. Given the political turmoil of the 1330s, the set has some unusual features that can only be understood in light of the political turmoil. For example, the collections of prede include numerous claims for back-rents extending over multiple years, which represent years during which landlords were unable to collect their rents. Other records from the Lucchese courts arose from separate stages of debt collection; these include records of the initial pleas filed by creditors—some of which, from the 1310s and 1320s, survived the great fire of 1329—and records of licenses given to creditors to either incarcerate or plunder their debtors; the latter become especially common after 1350 or so.
Given the richness of the potential set, it is highly desirable to double the number of registers sampled from the 1330s. In addition, we are hoping to extend the set to include records from the 1350s or 1360s, bearing in mind that the number of registers record plunders diminished significantly owing to a change in recording customs.
The current set includes records of plunder not only from Lucca but also from the surrounding country districts that fell under Lucca's political domination. It features several thousand acts involving the plunder of peasants and landless tenants, as well as numerous artisans, workers in the linen trade, merchants, notaries, and other status groups.
The set features prominently in Smail, Legal Plunder, and Christine Meek has used related sources for an important study of debt collection.