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Property and Family Strategies in the Alps: The Regis of St Vincent [July 10, 2014]

 Summary

This paper examines notarial acts from the late sixteenth century in order to study the ways in which property exchanges mediated relationships (within an extended family and (between family groups. The Regis/Du Rey family resided in the community of St Vincent, in the center of the Vallée d’Aoste, both in the bourg and in a number of villages scattered across the surrounding hills. Existing scholarship on families and landholding in mountain regions has tended to focus on overall family wealth levels, often obtained from cadastral records, and on the degree to which property management strategies revealed a tendency toward partibility or impartibility. Few of these studies have focused on how family strategies related to local political environments, or how particular families used their landed positions to play influential roles in their communities. The question of whether the specific territorial and spatial configuration of family property affected families’ influence has not been addressed either. This paper will take on some of these questions by supplementing an examination of the notarial records from St Vincent with study of parish records and papers of the Conseil des Commis of the valley, where Vincent Regis held key positions during the sixteenth century. It will investigate whether the Regis family seemed to have a coherent set of political strategies that coordinated its landed position in St Vincent with the activities of family members in Aosta and farther afield.This paper examines notarial acts from the late sixteenth century in order to study the ways in which property exchanges mediated relationships (within an extended family and (between family groups. The Regis/Du Rey family resided in the community of St Vincent, in the center of the Vallée d’Aoste, both in the bourg and in a number of villages scattered across the surrounding hills. Existing scholarship on families and landholding in mountain regions has tended to focus on overall family wealth levels, often obtained from cadastral records, and on the degree to which property management strategies revealed a tendency toward partibility or impartibility. Few of these studies have focused on how family strategies related to local political environments, or how particular families used their landed positions to play influential roles in their communities. The question of whether the specific territorial and spatial configuration of family property affected families’ influence has not been addressed either. This paper will take on some of these questions by supplementing an examination of the notarial records from St Vincent with study of parish records and papers of the Conseil des Commis of the valley, where Vincent Regis held key positions during the sixteenth century. It will investigate whether the Regis family seemed to have a coherent set of political strategies that coordinated its landed position in St Vincent with the activities of family members in Aosta and farther afield.

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