Tiella a pigione Villano di giovanni villani per fiorini xl lanno

Although household inventories are the main focus of the DALME project, the documents that accompany them are at times of greater interest than the lists themselves. This is the case with the inventory found in the eight-page dossier of Florentine Piero di Giovanni del Dolce de Pazzi, dated to August, 1389. The household goods enumerated on the third folio of the dossier are fairly unremarkable and include such common items as small bed, three desks, a table, linens, and non-perishable foodstuffs such as container of oil and a large vat of flour. What makes this inventory stand out, however, appears on the first folio of the dossier, which provides a list of the decedent’s real estate holdings, among them properties sold or leased. The first of these describes “a mansion or house with a courtyard, garden, and well, and other things located in Florence in the neighborhood of San Piero Maggiore,” rented to a certain “Villano di Giovanni Villani” for a price of 40 florins per year.

For any historian of medieval Florence, the names of the principal actors on either side of this real estate transaction and the location of the house itself jump off the page as both familiar and meaningful. Giovanni Villani, whose name is appended to that of the lessee and who therefore may have been his father, was the most important chronicler of Florence in the early fourteenth century. He composed his Nuova Cronica between the years 1320 and 1348, and the detailed and exhaustive history of the city soon became an important addition to the libraries of members of the Florentine mercantile elite, as well as a model for the many town histories composed throughout Italy in the decades to follow. Surely, the tenant listed in the transaction was either one of his children, or somehow related to him. Moreover, the renters’ family, the Pazzi, became infamous nearly a century later as the main actors in the so-called Pazzi Conspiracy, a plan to assassinate Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici, successors to the Medici family’s great fortune and power. And finally, the property itself is located in San Pier Maggiore, a neighborhood at the heart of the medieval city within walking distance of the famous Duomo, where the assassination attempt took place in 1478. The Pazzi’s family home still stands today and is located just around the corner from the rental property listed in the dossier. The evidence of the rental a property so close to the center of Florentine historical action, contracted between two families who were both famous in the history of medieval Florence, underscores that the people who owned and kept the items listed in the inventories were just as important—and just as interesting—as the items themselves.