16 October 2013

Methoni: The marketplace

Lotto, St. Barbara, detail.

Last week, Surprised by Time looked at some of the laws in Methoni intended to maintain peace and quiet. More laws concern details of the marketplace. Monetary equivalents:*
                            1 ducat          = 130 (1424) - 175 (1457) soldi
                            1 soldo           = 4 tornesi/torneselli
                            1 hyperperon = 20 soldi/80 tornesi
                            300 soldi       = month's wages for a soldier or sailor
  • 1416. Anyone who sells wine at an eating house will pay 30 hyperpera for each offense and will stay 2 months in prison and 1 day in the pillory, if a man, and if a women in place of the pillory will be led through the castello with the wine jug hanging from her neck and her offense cried out before her. If anyone is found carrying a jug or other container of wine, and the tax collector asks about it, and the said person pours it on the ground, he will pay 10 hyperpera, half to the tax collector and half to the commune.
  • 1416. There are two ships here that will go to Flanders, and they want to buy corloti (a wine). No one is permitted to sell them corloti: experience has shown it does not travel well, and it will do great damage to Venice and this territory. Anyone who sells them corloti will spend a year in prison and pay 1/2 ducat for each offense. Anyone who sells corloti to anyone not from this territory, without a license from and the knowledge of the castellan, will suffer the same penalty.
  • 1416. It is permitted to anyone who has herd animals (mandra) to kill young goats, sheep, pigs, and other animals for the use of his household, without paying a tax. Similarly, anyone who raises pigs in his house and kills them will not pay a tax.
  • 1417. Anyone who transports wine out to the casali or anywhere in the territory without paying the tax will pay a penalty of 10 hyperpera, and double the tax. From the penalty one-third will go to the commune, one-third to the tax collector, and one third to the accuser. If the accuser is the tax collector, he will have one of the two-thirds.
  • 1417. No one of any rank can buy greens or fruit in the terra (Methoni) except at the produce market at the column of the piazza, with a penalty of 1 hyperper for each offense and confiscation of the purchase. Also, no one may presume to put a hand in the sack of the seller of the produce or take any produce against his will, with the same penalty. [This had also been made a law in 1344.]
  • 1428. No one of any rank may sell any quantity of grain, small or large, to any seller of bread without a license from the castellan, under penalty of losing the grain and the price of it. No seller of bread may buy any quantity of grain without a license from the castellan, under penalty of losing the grain, and the value of it, and one day in the pillory.

Lotto, St. Barbara, detail.

  • 1432. Anyone, either man or woman, who sells greens at 1 soldo a bunch, that is pozi, cabbage, (horse)radishes, zevole, pastonagie, or other vegetables, from here on will sell for 1 tornese a bunch, under penalty of 5 hyperpera.
  • 1440. No one may sell tallow candles except at the price of 5 soldi the pound, with 24 candles in a pound, under penalty of 20 soldi. [A pound = 301g. or 66% of a modern pound.]
  • 1440. No one may salt pork, either in the fortification or the borgo or the district, without a license from the castellan. It is permitted to each person to salt for household use one or two pigs, or as much meat as would equal two pigs, and no more.
  • 1444. No one should play any game of chance except in the loggias and porticos of the shops of the castello to the corner of the Memo house. There are those who play between the two gates and blaspheme God and the saints, and distract the guard, and they come to words and draw arms to the great danger of the guard. It is decreed that from here on no member of the guard can play any game of chance for any reason at the gate of the castello, if not in the loggias and porticos of the shops as far as the corner of the Memo house, under penalty of 40 soldi for each offense. This applies to the night guard as well.
Wartime affected market regulations.
  • 1468. No one of any rank can take or send out of this city or borgo or district or casali of this district, any grain, wine, oil, or food, without a license from the rettori given in writing at the chancery, under penalty of losing it all, or the value, as contraband, 1/3 to go to the commune, and 2/3 to the accuser and the rettori.
  • 1469. At present fish dealers have multiplied in this land who sell fish at a higher price than customary to the detriment of everyone. No one of any rank will sell a pound of fresh fish for more than 4 soldi, and little fish and bobe/pogue/gopa for more than 3 soldi a pound, under penalty of 5 hyperpera for each offence. 

* Money from Alan M. Stahl, The Venetian Tornesello: A Medieval Colonial Coinage, 1985.

Pictures from the fresco by Lorenzo Lotto, The Legend of St. Barbara, 1523-24, in the Oratorio Suardi, Trescore.

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