French Renaissance Paleography


Seyne,[1] 1582-3
Register of notary Guillaume Peytralis for 1582-1583 (part 1, 2, and 3)
Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Case MS 5028, vol. 3


In medieval and Ancien Régime France, notaries would draw up official legal documents for their clients, called minutes, and preserve them in a minutier or notarial register. Notaries kept repertories to help them easily locate deeds across different registers (organized chronologically), and keep track of their clients alphabetically. Notaries sometimes had official copies of minutes made for their clients, called expéditions, such as the Expédition du contrat de mariage de Catherine Lobeyrie et Jean Favy/manifest.

In our site, we have reproduced three series of deeds found in volume three of a collection of fifteen notarial registers from southern France dating from about 1400 to 1750. The register in volume three covers the years 1582-3 of the study of the notary Guillaume Peytralis, established in the town of Seyne. Among the deeds reproduced are quittances and promises of payment, a contract of apprenticeship, a subletting agreement, and a financial transaction.

In 2005, Jean-Baptiste Raze, then a student at the Ecole des Chartes in Paris, spent a month at the Newberry Library on a short-term fellowship and made a preliminary study of the entire collection of fifteen registers, which the library had purchased in 1989.

Raze found that three of the registers in the series (numbers 8, 14, and 15) date from the 15th century, were written in Latin, and came from the town of Malaucène. Number 8 belonged to one notary, Girardus Bermundi. Number 14 was used by Bermundi in the fifteenth century and then a hundred years later -by Guillaume Peytralis-, in Seyne. Number 15 is a compilation of several registers written by at least five different notaries, over a period of about 75 years (André de Saint-Romain, Jacques de Saint-Romain, Claude Masson, Thierry Bourgeois, and Antoine Amalric).

Among the remaining twelve registers, two are also from Malaucène, and the other ten are from Seyne. Of the two additional registers from Malaucène, one dates from 1549 and was written in Latin by a notary named Bartholomy Martinelli, and the second one is from 1565, written partly in Latin and partly in French, by a notary named Girardon.

The ten registers from Seyne are actually a mixture of registers and repertories, dating from the 1550s to the 1740s. They are all written in French and belonged to at least two different notaries, Guillaume Peytralis (at least six registers) and Pierre Mathieu (one).