The Use and Reuse of Documents by Chancellors, Archivists and Government Members in an Early Modern Republican State: Genoa’s ‘Giunta dei Confini’ and Its Archives

During the early modern period the state progressively improved its instruments for territorial control. Among such instruments, those institutions charged with the settlement of territorial disputes were of significant importance. In various ways and depending on the context, these institutions influenced the configuration of archives: not only through the creation of novel documentary complexes, but also through the reuse of documents inherited from the past. It is generally accepted that whenever archives have to fulfil a primarily practical and administrative function, they tend to acquire the shape which best suits the purposes of the subject that devises them. Their configuration thereafter changes in compliance with the changes in the practical or cultural needs of each subject entrusted pro tempore with the task of maintaining them. In this sense, the Genoese case is a particularly significant example. The archives of the Giunta dei confini (1587-1797) is a documentary complex comprising  500 items preserved in the Genoese State Archives. For almost two centuries the Republic expressed its policy of territorial control through the management of self-documentation and memory gathered in these documents. During its active phase, the Giunta’s archive papers underwent several radical reorganizations. The structural features of the research tools developed during these interventions reflect the changing heuristic needs of the community of reference: i.e. chancellors, archivists, government members. The personal or institutional use, reuse and non-use of the papers, furnishes new evidence of the relationship between center and periphery in the aristocratic Republic of Genoa; an evidence which has to be taken as a clear example of the relationship between document management and territorial administration in an early modern state.

Stefano Gardini, is a fixed-term researcher at the University of Genoa, where he currently teaches Archival Science. His research interests focus primarily on forms of archival sedimentation, with particular attention to the organization of government funds in the Republic of Genoa during the 18th and 19th centuries, against the backdrop of the administrative and historiographical developments from the end of the early modern period to the unification of Italy.