Department of History

Daily Migrations

Drawing on sociology and anthropology, historians of modern and contemporary Europe have directed since long their attention to local and regional phenomena of individual relocations, with the result of playing down the impact on societies of great migratory waves and major colonisations, and bringing to light more ordinary and every-day aspects of mobility in the past. Taking these new perspectives as a starting point, my research project aims to investigate regional and small-scale mobility in Italy, from the Lombard conquest in 568/9 AD to the end of the Carolingian rule in 888 AD. The purpose is to shift once and for all the focus from the ‘mass’ migration of the Lombards into Italy to the ‘migrations’ of the Lombards as single individuals or as members of small groups within the kingdom and towards (or back from) the neighbouring Italian territories (under the control of Byzantium). Although less documented, or documented indirectly, various types of human movements on a reduced scale, both in terms of number of people involved and distances covered, have always taken place in early medieval Italy. Our knowledge of them, however, is still very tentative. The relevance and novelty of my research lies in making up for this lacuna, and producing a more refined understating of early medieval migratory dynamics. Thanks to an in-depth study of written sources (legislation and archival documentation), small-scale mobility will be analysed by looking for patterns, drivers and protagonists, in a comparative, diachronic and gender perspective. In particular the research project intends to pursue three specific objectives: i) to test the paradigm of royal control over the population through the study of Lombard and Carolingian legislation; ii) to compile a repertory of inside migrants by examining the archival documentation; iii) to verify any decreases and/or increases of migratory flows between the Lombard and Carolingian epochs. To reach these goals, the study will be developed around some key questions. Who was moving around Italy and why? Where and in which direction? How far? Did recurring migratory flows exist? Were they linked to certain social and gender categories? Did aristocratic and non-aristocratic mobility overlap or diverge? Which was the difference, if any, between masculine and feminine mobility? Was the symbolic date of 774 a watershed from the viewpoint of the internal mobility of the kingdom? If so, in what way and why?

For further information about Annamaria Pazienza, please click here.