Urban Viarii and the prosecution of public health offenders in late medieval Italy

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Roads officials (viarii) were integral to many Italian cities’ strategies for
combatting disease and promoting health. Yet their significance for the
history of environmental policing remains largely unrecognised. This
chapter begins by mapping the contours of the office in the peninsula’s
centre and north between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. It then
explores the activities of viarii in that period and region through recourse
to the records of Lucca and Bologna. An examination of the Bolognese
archival series throws new light on the resources that urban regimes
dedicated to communal wellbeing, as well as the strategies required to
implement their policies. These records offer a ‘bottom-up’ perspective
on environmental health and the tensions underlying the exercise of
premodern bio-power.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolicing the Urban Environment in Premodern Europe
EditorsCarole Rawcliffe, Claire Weeda
Place of PublicationAmsterdam The Netherlands
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789048536221
ISBN (Print)9789462985193
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NamePremodern Crime and Punishment
PublisherAmsterdam University Press

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