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Statuta communis Bugellae



S t a t u t a 
C o m m u n i s
B u g e l l a e




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Pietro Sella

Biella at the Press of G. Testa



The Paleographic Survey of the Statutes
Record I:
The Statutes of the Commune of Bugella (Biella).
The Collection of the Statutes of the Commune of Biella.
The Statutes of the College of the Drapers.
Record II:
The Fragmented Statutes of the Commune of Biella of the Fourteenth Century.
The Collection of the Fragments of the Statutes of the Commune of Biella of the Fourteenth Century.
Record III:
The Book of the Sacred Ordinances of the Consuls and Officials of the Commune.
Concerning the Podesta.
The Statutes concerning Dowries.
The Privileges, Immunities, Honors, Liberties and Customary Law of the Commune of Biella.
The Collection of the three Records.
Record IV:
The Statutes concerning the Sindication of the Podesta.
The Collection of the Statutes concerning the Sindication of the Podesta.
Record V:
The Statutes of the Wrongdoers of the Commune of Biella.
Record VI:
The Statutes of the Notaries of Biella.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Notaries of Biella.
Record VII:
The Book of the Statutes of all of the Magistrates of the Commune of Biella.
The Statutes of the Iron Workers.
The Statutes of the Candle-makers.
The Statutes of the Tailors.
The Statutes of the Weavers.
The Statutes of the Drapers.
The Statutes of the Mace-Bearers.
The Statutes of the Butchers.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Iron Workers.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Candle-makers.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Tailors.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Weavers.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Drapers.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Mace-Bearers.
The Collection of the Statutes of the Butchers.



In the last twenty years of his life's work and in the little time which he had free from the work of Parliament, Quintinus Sella turned his attention to the history of his hometown, Biella. Conscious of how much exacting and thorough labor would be necessary in an orderly and copious archive, he not only immediately gave himself over to the task of reorganizing the Archive of Biella, which had been long uncared for and reduced because it was, in short, a pile of badly annotated parchment, but, by going through every one of the villages of the surrounding area with caution and diligence, he also succeeded in causing them to give the long important documents to the Commune. At the completion of this first task, he had the good fortune and the job of bringing back to Biella the ancient statutes of the Commune. In the first half of the thirteenth century, these statutes had been given in a communication to the commune of the Abbot Augusto Avogado. The heirs, ignorant of the statutes' provenance, gave them to the Library of the Duke of Genoa in Torino, where they remained in the bottom of a wardrobe from 1250 or 1251 until 1867. They were then discovered by the Caviliere Pietro Vayra when he edited the catalogue. Quintinus Sella in 1874 demanded that they be restored to the Commune of Biella. The Duke of Genoa, informed of the provenance, consented. On that occasion, Sella, in power for a period of eight years, brought back to Biella various documents of the Archive of State of Torino through the medium of the Committee of the Storia Patria. And the Archive of Biella considered itself more or less complete; only the statutes of Masserano and some documents of the fifteenth century which remained in the archive of that commune were lacking, but it was hoped that these documents would quickly come to be deposited in the Archive of Biella. They remained lost property or, as it were, in the archives of some Biellanese families: The Ferrero Fieschi, the Gromis, the Dal Pozzo, the Vialardi, the Mossi, the Bulgaro, and a few others who, however, had (in their possession), because of an oversight which was made in various ways, as it were, documents totally of familial interest.

With the documents reunited, he began the difficult labor of reorganizing all of the thousands of documents: this was accomplished by Sella with the precious help of Vayra. The archive, situated in the Professional School of Biella, now consists of some 220 collection boxes in the form of volumes of sheets containing the documents each in a suitable envelope: one accurate card index completed the beautiful work. The documents extend to 1600, that is, to the beginning of the decline of the Commune of Biella. The other many documents that are prior to 1600, with which Sella was not yet occupied, now came to be reorganized by the diligent Professor Roccavella. It was he who quickly at last saw the archive completed as far as the more recent era. It was not he who made the history of the archive of Biella, which was not more interesting, but in complete similarity to that of another archive: the disorderly, the hidden, the lost pages of the document ending at a more remote era (this fact was attested to by numerous documents compressed in four portfolios in the archive) belongs to communes of many other regions. They only observed that "none of the ancient piedmontese cities appeared to be considerable number of the codici and documentary statutes ....the documents of the first period that encompass the years 882-1379 add up to more than 800." But, it was with great pleasure that I, a Biellesean, can quote to this point the opinion of a Frenchman on the archive of Biella. And, Lamiere, in one of his recent writings, states, "The marvelous sources preserved in the communal archives of Biella are relevant to one entity, the Ancient Law," an idea reaffirmed by the long drawn out course of the labor.

Alas, I do not know with precision the limits of the work which Quintinus Sella intended to complete for Biella; but, I certainly believe, given his love for the complete project, that he had wished to write a complete history of Biella and the Biellanese from each point of view. Meanwhile, as at the beginning of a greater work, he had begun to concern himself with the Statutes of Biella and, with the assistance of Vayra, he had not yet begun the copy or the publication. However, since the Codex Astensis, as it was known, which had been carried from Vienna to Asti, had come into his hands in 1876, and, as it had occurred a little while earlier, the Statuta Comunis had been carried from Biella to Torino, he suspended the study of the one project to give himself over to that of another fine codex. He was already well advanced with the not insignificant work when the end of his life came. The Codex Astensis saw the light, after the vote of the Accademia dei Lincei, with the assistance of Sella's initials and thanks to the care of Vayra. The statutes of Biella remained for many years in ten published sheets; it was nonetheless in these sheet that they had Sella's legacy. I, both because of the duty of blood and because of a grand veneration, had the obligation of its complete publication. Still, not being able to arrive at the perfection to which the mind of Quintinus Sella might have led me, I believe that it is useful to my labor that I will be able to complete the work myself; in any event

"We will examine the long study and the grand love."


The Statutory documents
of the Commune of Biella are:

Mon. I: Statuta Comunis Bugelle (1245) et collegii drapariorum Bugelle et Vernati (1438). [The Statutes of the Commune of Biella (1245) and of the College of the Drapers of Biella and Vernati (1348).]

Mon. II: Statutorum Comunis Bugelle seculi XIV fragmentum. [The Fragments of the Statutes of the Commune of Biella of the XIV century.]

Mon. III. A. Liber sacramentorum consulum et officialum comunis (without a date).
A. The Book of the Sacred Ordinances of the Consuls and Officials of the Commune.
B. De potestate. (without a date).
B. Concerning the Podesta.
C. Statuta de dotibus. (1454-1455)
C. The Statutes concerning Dowries.
D. Privilegia, Immunitates, Honorancie, Libertates et Consuetudines Comunis Bugella. (without a date) [The Privileges, Immunities, Honors, Liberties, and Common Law of the Commune of Biella]

Mon. IV: Statuta super sindicatione potestatis Bugelle eiusve familie. (without a date) [The Statutes concerning the Sindication of the Podesta of Biella and his Household.]

Mon. V: Statuta maleficorum Comunis Bugelle (without a date). [The Statutes of the Wrongdoers of the Commune of Biella.]

Mon. VI: Statuta notariorum Bugelle. (1429) [The Statutes of the Notaries of Biella.]

Mon. VII: Liber statutorum et ordinamentorum omnium magistrariarum Comunis Bugelle: [The Book of the Statutes and Ordinances of all of the Magistrates of the Commune of Biella.]
A. Statuta ferrariorum (1275) [Statutes of the Iron-workers].
B. Statuta calegariorum (1291) [Statutes of the Candle-makers].
C. Statuta sartorum. (1296) [Statutes of the Tailors]
D. Statuta textorum. (1310) [Statutes of the Weavers]
E. Statuta drapariorum. (1348) [Statutes of the Drapers]
F. Statuta massariorum. (1385) [Statutes of the Mace-bearers]
G. Statuta beccariorum. (?) [Statutes of the Butchers]

The statutes of the magistrates and the statutes of the mace-bearers was not included; the copy of the document had come to an end. The printing was added to the statutes of the notaries. From this memorial, the documents related somehow to the proceeding statutes did follow in the following order:

Mon. I: Documenta adiecta monumentis I, II, III, IV, V.
Mon. II: Documenta adiecta monumento VI.
Mon. III: Documenta adiecta monumento VII.
Mon. IV: Documenta adiecta monumento VIII B.
Mon. V: Documenta adiecta monumento VII E.
Mon. VI: Documenta adiecta monumento VII G.

At the part relative to my commune, I am stopping in the year 1600 which, approximately signals the end of the commune, but also its complete absorption by the party of Casa Savoia; besides, through the skills by which I can discover documents, I have come to the point at which I am on the footsteps of a colleague.



The codex of the ancient statutes which remains for us, although it may be included with the Statutes of 1245, is not of the same date, but, as it so often happens, one copy of a much later date was included together with the statutes of 1245; other subsequent statutes may be under the form of interlinear or marginal additions. Therefore, it will be necessary to proceed to a paleographic survey to seek to determine the age of the codex and the relative age of the various additions.

Our present codex is under the form of a beautiful volume of 89 membranaceous sheets of 23X34 cm, relegated by the diligence of Quintinus Sella between two little boards of wood, as it was formerly in ancient times.

One first glance at it some time ago made note of the fact that the characters that form the basis for the codex are of the same hand of the beginning of the fourteenth century, neat, written in a beautiful black ink, with diligence, and with the initial miniature letters in red. These characters form the greater part of almost all of the rubrics of the codex (I saw in the text of the statutes a note relative to the various additions and in the present state of the articles); at its glance, the articles written by the various other hands with more or less diligence are without the miniature initial (letters) and are certainly subsequent to the aforesaid characters. Among the various characters of the subsequent additions, connections can not be discovered with certainty, but I have allowed myself to recognize the age or at least the succession of some of them. First, to look for the age of the principal character (book hand), n. 1., as I call it, I will examine a single rubric, from which springs the solution to the problem.

Rubric I
occupies sheets 1-6 and sheets 8 and 9 (which are on the back and on the black side of the sheet); sheet 7 occupies part of Rubric II, an error derived from a mistaken sewing, a kind of ab antico, of the sheets. The sheets from 1-30 are all of hand n. 1. and of the year of the aforesaid characters; those from 31-37 are of various subsequent hands; from sheets 37-44, the hand appears to be one only and was probably drawn to the addition intact without subsequent modification. It is apparent to me that it is one of the last additions made in the first code to proceed to the editing of the editing of the other codex that remains here with the title, Statutum Comunis Bugelle seculi XIV fragmentum and of which I will speak a little later.

Rubric II
occupies sheets 7, 10 and 11 (sheet 11 is on the back and the blank side). All of the articles of this rubric are of the hand n. 1; the last (sheet) is excluded (a. 59), which is subsequent, of another hand, without the miniature initial letter.

Rubric III
occupies sheets 12 and 13. Articles 60-65 are of hand n. 1.; the others, 66-70, are of a different and later hand, without the miniature initial (letters).

Rubric IIII
occupies sheets 14, 15, and 16. Articles 71- 80 are of hand n. 1.; also, although there are no initial miniature (letters), it appears that article 74 is an additional statement at the bottom of sheet 14 and that one can, with every probability, consider it contemporaneous with the book hand n. 1. Article 81, added at the bottom of sheet 15, without the miniature initial letters, is certainly a remarkable subsequent addition to another article. Articles 82-88 are of the hand n. 1. 89-93 are later, the work of various hands. Articles 92 and 93 are therefore of the same characters and they are therefore considered contemporaneous.

Rubric V
occupies sheets 17 and 18 (the back of sheet 18 is blank). Articles 94-100 are in the same hand n. 1.; 102 and 103 are of a different subsequent hand.

Rubric VI
occupies sheets 19, 20, 21, and 22 (the back of sheet 22 is blank). Articles 104-111 are of hand n. 1.; Article 112 is of different characters, although they do have miniature initials and they are in the middle of the page; it is a difficult decision. It is perhaps the one addition in the edition that the empty space, if I am permitted, was filled in with a compressed hand and is considered contemporaneous. Articles 113-120 are of the new hand n. 1. Article 121 is of another hand. 122, 123, and 124 respectively are of a uniform hand and therefore are respectively contemporaneous; of 121, it is clear that it is the characters of the addition.

Rubric VII
occupies sheets 23, 24, and 25 (Sheet 31 is on the blank side). Articles 144-165 are in hand n.1.; Article 138 was added to the bottom of the back of sheet 24, and the initial letters are not miniatures, but they are certainly in another hand. Article 143, however, is a subsequent addition of a variant hand.

Rubric VIII
occupies sheets 27-30 (Sheet 31 is on the blank side). Articles 144-165 are in hand n.1.; it is this article that comes to supply us with a first date, truthfully anchored with much inaccuracy, through the determination of the age of hand n.1. The fact is that Article 144 at the end, as a linear addition, says: "MCCCXXXV pendet"; consequently the article is prior to 1335. The first result perhaps can be surmised on the sole criteria of calligraphy, but it is not entirely useless that the first argument is not likewise precise. We will have a better determination (of the date) later. Articles 166-169 are a later addition of a variant hand.

Rubric IX
occupies sheets 32 and 33 (The back of Sheet 33 is on the blank side). Article 170-173 is of hand n.1. Article 174 is of another hand, without the miniature initial letter and is a later addition.

Rubric X
occupies sheets 34 and 35 (The back of Sheet 35 is on the blank side). Articles 175 and 178 are of hand n.1.; the remaining articles, 179-181, are of a variant and subsequent hand.

Rubric XI
occupies sheets 36, 37, and 38 (The back of Sheet 38 is on the blank side). Articles 182-191 are in hand n.1.; articles 192-195 are a subsequent addition of a variant hand; on the other hand, articles 192 and 193 bear respectively the dates of 1317 and 1318; consequently, the character n. 1. is certainly prior to that date and, perhaps even more given my inclination to say that they are the same, the difference between the writing of n.1. and this hand is not very great.

Rubric XII
occupies sheets 39-42. Articles 196-210 are in hand n.1.; the other articles, 211-223 are of a variant and later hand; articles 221-222 are of the same hand, appearing a second time.

Rubric XIII
occupies sheets 43-44. Articles 224-229 are of hand n.1.; the other articles, 230-238, are all later additions of a variant hand.

Rubric XIIII
occupies sheets 45-51. Articles 239-266 are of hand n.1.; Articles 266-270 are of a variant hand. Article 260 has the written (phrase): MCCCXXII dispensatum est per credenciam usque ad voluntatem ipsius credentie; thus, it is confirmed that hand n.1. is prior to 1322. Surely, it is certain, given the knoiwledge supplied in Rubric XI. Article 261 is later: "MCCCXXVIIII positum est super hoc statuto vacat"; so that it is given that it was old prior to 1329. Article 270 is the last rubric and has the following text: "anno currente MCCCXIII"; therefore, it is with certainty that the addition of this rubric was placed first in 1323.

Rubric XV
occupies sheets 52-54 (the back of sheet 54 is blank). Articles 271-283 are of hand n.1; articles 184 and 285 are of a variant hand and added later.

Rubric XVI
occupies sheet 56 (the back if sheet 56 is blank). All of the rubrics are of the same hand n.1. without additional articles, but with various interlinear additions.

Rubric XVII
occupies sheets 57-59 (the back of sheet 59 is blank). All of the Articles of this rubric, the last exception, are of the same hand n.1.

Rubric XVIII
occupies sheet 60 (Sheet 61 is blank). Articles 308-311 are of hand n.1.; the others, 312-314, are of a variant hand and a later addition.

Rubric XIX
occupies sheets 62-64 (the back of sheet 64 is blank), and articles 315-325 are of hand n.1. "MCCCXII iNDIC. X" is written in red above Article 225. Then, this article is of 1312 and, therefore, the character n.1. is of 1312. Therefore, after the approximation of the real age, we can with certainty conclude that the codex which we have is of 1312 and that the additions are later than that year. Cesare Poma (Gli Statuti del Comune di Biella del 1245, Biella, Amosso, 1885) arrived at this same conclusion based purely on the character of the minatures of the initial (letter) and considered the articles which have the initial miniature (letter) to be contemporaneous. A conclusion which seems to me to be embellished, but he fully justified himself, if he would have resorted to the later certain criterion of the identity of the character. Articles 326-328 are later additions of a variant kind; article 328 is of a later hand of 1331, in the year of the construction of the Roggia del Piano.

Rubric XX
occupies sheet 65 (The following sheet 66 is blank). Articles 329-332 are of hand n.1. Articles 333 and 334 are later additions of a different era. Rubric XXI, which occupies sheet 67 (The following sheet 68 is blank) are all of hand n.1, with the exception of Article 341, which is a later addition.

Rubric XXII
occupies sheets 69-76. Articles 342-364 are all of hand n.1; Articles 315, 366, 367 are dated in 1314, 1317, and 1318 and are of a variant hand. The other articles, 368-385, are later additions, written with little order and are all later than 1318. Articles 373 and 374 then, which were drawn from the struggle of Biella with Salussola which lasted from 1334 to 1343, are placed in those years.

Rubric XXIII
are very probably an addition, since they neither remain as written in hand n.1 nor do they have the miniature initial letters. The inventory following in sheets 77-87 with titles, numbers, and initial miniature (letters) in red. On the back of sheet 87 and on the back of sheet 88 is written the Statute of the Drapers of 1348; the characters of that era. The codex concludes at sheet 89 which is blank.

But now we sum up the results provided in the detailed examination of the codex. Secondly, the date, the year 1245, in which the statutes were compiled for the first time, is probably in 1245. In 1312, the codex proceeded to a new edition, including the reformations made from 1245 to 1312; this edition is the one which remains, augmented by the later additions made until 1343 or thereabouts. I note then a fact of great importance, namely that the statute of the Commune is followed by the Statutes of the Drapers, a clear demonstration of the predominance that already then the Gild of the woolworkers in Biella had assumed. Thus, it was believed fitting that the statute was united to that of the Commune.

We now pass onto the examination of the second Memorial entitled, "Statutorum Comunis Bugelle seculi XIV fragmentum." The memorial appears to be of one paper booklet of 46 sheets of 23X31 cm.

Also, in the codex as in some of the ancient statutes themselves, there is one predominate hand that is one of the second half of the XIV century with much added on and marginal and linear additions. However, I believe that the (codex) should be considered later with the addition of the codex of the ancient statutes of which the more later date was of 1334- 1343 (a. 373-374). In as much as with another memorial of statutes, the concern with one minute paleographic search is nearly worthless; therefore, I am limiting myself to giving one simple description.

Memorial III entitled, "Liber sacramentorum consulum et officialum comunis Bugelle," and "De Potestate" consists of 37 parchment sheets of 33X23 cm., written in a type of hand of the first half of 1400.

Memorial IV, "Statuta super sindicatione Potestatis Bugelle eiusve familie," consists of 4 paper sheets, greatly battered by the dampness, 25X15 cm., written by a hand of the first half of the 1400s.

Memorial V, "Statuta Maleficiorum Bugelle," is a single parchment codex of 46 sheets, 31.5X20 cm., of the character of the first half of the XIV century.

Memorial VI, "Statuta Notariorum Bugelle," consists of 55 parchment sheets of 25X18 cm.; the entry point of the 1429 date is probable and is the original copy.

Memorial VII, "Liber Statutorum et Ordinamentorum omnium magistrariarum Comunis Bugelle," consists of 75 paper sheets, 30X23 cm., with many blank pages. The is one copy from the first half of 1400. The statute of the butchers itself is not included, because it is not detached from it, but that it is nevertheless detached from the characteristics of the codex.

In as much as "Documenta adiecta" is contained in Volume II, nothing there is worthy of note; some small observations should come forth on a case by case basis from the text of the notes.

Thus, having completed the first passage of the cherished work of Quintinus Sella, I will come to the completion of the work with a full historical-legal study, to which I will continue to pay attention. In this study, I will relate the present statute to the statutory legislation in general and specifically to the piedmontese [statutory legislation], by dealing in a far more complete manner with that which will be given to me, that is, the questions that will spring forth. Then, I will be able to speak of the worth of the completed work that, after so much time has by now passed by, Quintinus Sella has thus clearly conceived of and undertaken.

Rome October, 1904.

Pietro Sella
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