Inventory of Laureta de Rabesio detail.jpg

Act herading for the inventory of Laureta de Rabesio (Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône 3 B 145)

Laureta de Rabesio, to judge by her late husband's surname, was a member of Marseille's well-to-do class of merchants and patricians. So too was her friend and heir, Dulcieta Atulfa. But when you take a moment to wander around the house and the things she left to her friend, you don't even remotely get the impression of elite social status. In the almost entirely unfurnished dining hall, Dulcieta found two old and nearly worthless chests and two wooden chairs. In the bedroom, there was little more than a chest and a small bed made with sheets described as "torn," a nearly worthless bolster, and two torn blankets. The only food to be found in the storeroom was a butt half-full of white wine. The kitchen was the one room containing a reasonably complete set of utensils, dishes, and cooking equipment; one gets the impression that Laureta spent most of her time in this room. Was Laureta poor? Perhaps. It is also possible that the house contained things that were not listed in the inventory since they didn't belong to her. But in the last entry in the list of items found in the kitchen, we get a glimpse of who Laureta may have been, for Dulcieta noted the presence of an "oratory with an image of the Virgin Mary." Devotional items of this kind are exceedingly rare in Marseille inventories, although they are a little more common in elite households (though they are never found in kitchens). One gets the impression that Laureta de Rabesio, late in life, had become a religious recluse with ascentic tendency, and kept the image of the Virgin Mary in the room where she spent most of her time.