ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ACCOUNTING APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY
BUSINESS VENTURES IN GENOA DURING THE TWELFTH CENTURY (1156-1158)
In the Middle Ages, a notary public was asked to record many transactions which today we probably would not consider necessary to authenticate. The books for recording these notarial acts were called protocolli or protocols, and the acts were called imbreviature or abridged deeds, because they contain only the essential terms of the transaction, although the incipit, containing the complex phraseology and wording, was a standardized form.
The oldest known series of these notarial acts is kept in Genoa. Isolated notarial documents or entire collections concerning private or public bodies may be found in great numbers especially in eccle-siastical archives, and they represent an essential source for the study of history in the Middle Ages. Generally these documents deal with particular public or religious organizations or with certain as-pects of human activity. These protocols where the notary has re-corded, often throughout several years, the most disparate kinds of agreements are an original or sometimes supplemental source to direct historical sources. The possibility of making such analyses depends on the number and continuity of these records. The Ligurian region is richly endowed in having the Genoese notarial records, to-gether with the records of the notaries Cumano and De Donato of Savona, and the cartulary of Johannes di Giona of Portovenere, which constitute the oldest collection now existing. The one hun-dred and fifty cartularies dated before 1300 are the most valuable. Six of them contain acts drawn during the second half of the twelfth century.1 By studying them we may obtain a better understanding of the history of commerce and of maritime law of the whole Medi-terranean basin.
During those times in Genoa banks did not exist to accumulate capital for loans to merchants who had endless financial demands due to their overseas commerce. These operations were performed exclusively by private citizens and were controlled by various jurid-ical formulas and specified rights and obligations arising from the