Ligi 14r.jpg

Dossier of Piero e Bartolomeo Ligi folio 14r

Ragioni delle Rede e di Pero e di Bartolomeo di Ligi, calderaio (f. 412r); Mazzerizie delle dette Rede le quali avea occhultate ladonna di Pero di Ligi (414r).

One advantage of examining inventories from the Office of the Florentine Wards is that most are cached within an estate dossier, a collection of written materials related to the decedent’s worldly goods and assets. A will or testament often appears as the first document in the dossier; reading through the entries allows researchers to detect the role of each named person in the life of the decedent, and their relationship to other members of the household or to the goods listed in the inventories. Even when a will is absent, however, details of household relationships can sneak through, as is the case in the double estate dossier of Bartolomeo and Piero di Ligi, both identified as coppersmiths.

Since their assets were jointly listed, Bartolomeo and Piero were likely brothers, and although the twinned nature of the record is already unusual, it is the arrival of a third party, Piero’s unnamed wife, that makes this dossier stand out. Unlike most estate dossiers that contain one household inventory recorded on a single day or session, the Ligi brothers’ has two such lists, the first created in mid-October of 1391, and the second compiled later that year. The first inventory lists a rather standard collection of household goods, from bottles and barrels to earthenware, cookware, dishes, and foodstuffs, all found at the main residence and at a small villa located in the neighborhood of Santa Croce. However, a few folios later in the register (f. 414r), the page heading explains that this second inventory, separate from the first, bears witness to “the items belonging to the said heir that the wife of Piero had hidden.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the items on this second list were far more luxurious than those on the earlier inventory. Among them were several sumptuous items of clothing, including a gamurra with 28 silver buttons, a woman’s silk overcoat with yellow lining and 24 buttons on the sleeves, two ladies’ chaplets, one made of blue and the other of yellow sandal, as well as rosary beads, rings, silver and gold hair trimmings, and other costly accessories. We will never know whether Piero’s wife was justified in concealing these things from the notary at occasion of the first inventory, but the absence of her name anywhere in the documents, and the coupling of her husband’s goods with his brother’s, suggests she may have indeed have had cause to do so.