Sicilian Documents

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Thanks to the dedicated labor of many scholars and the Inter-Library Loan system, we had the opportunity to examine some reprints of original Sicilian documents from the Archivio Storico del Comune di Palermo by way of the Mendel Gottesman Library of Yeshiva University. This page contains my own transcription of some of them, arranged in chronological order. For each document, I have maintained the punctuation, use of upper and lower cases, and line spacing as close to the source document as possible. The page also links to transcriptions of original documents from other sources. The parenthetical reference found at the end of each transcription refers to the Bibliography at the bottom of this page.

In the classroom, I learned about some significant events: Magna Carta; the American and French revolutions; various Church Councils; the Crusades; the discovery of the New World; the American Civil War; etc., as well as some significant dates: July 4, 1776; 1066; July 14, 1789; 1492; December 7, 1941; April 12, 1945; 1832; 1860-65; etc. By this time the list is very long and continues to grow. But more important than its length, is its ever changing depth. For example, while 1066 used to bring to mind the Norman King William's victory over Harold II, it now also reminds me of the start of the conquest of Sicily by his Norman cousin Roger I. And while 1492 stood as the year of the discovery of America, it now also includes Queen Isabella's final victory over the Moors, and the promulgation of King Ferdinand's awful edict of expulsion of the Jews from his entire kingdom, which unfortunately included Sicily. Thus the celebrations of 1992 commemorating the discovery of the new world could hardly be a cause for joy for the victims and heirs of Ferdinand's edict.

Although these documents were initially assembled in the interest of recording instances of the use of the Sicilian language, reading them, served to educate me about the events they recorded. Besides teaching me some history, their reading also gave me some interesting insights. For example, compare what we know about the way liberties were torn from the Angevin King John at Runneymede on June 15, 1215, by the rebellious English barons with the tone of the letter of the Sicilian barons to Peter of Aragon in 1282, pleading for help against another Angevin, Charles of Anjou. Both were seeking a return to the enlightened treatment they had enjoyed under their former Norman kings. The English barons, in their self reliance, bettered their lot, the Sicilian barons, in pleading for outside help, did not.


Fonti Per La Storia Dell'Espulsione Degli Ebrei Dalla Sicilia, ed by Romualdo Giuffrida, Aldo Sparsi, Salvo Di Matteo, Accademia Nazionale Di Scienze Lettere E Arti Di Palermo, Archivio Di Stato Di Palermo, 1992.
Italia Judaica: Gli ebrei in Sicilia sino all'espulsione del 1492, Atti del V convegno internazionale Palermo, 15-19 giugno 1992. Pubblicazioni Degli Archivi Di Stato, Saggi 32, Ministero per Beni Culturali E Ambientali, Ufficio Centrale Per I Beni Archivistici, 1995
Sucato, Ignazio, La Lingua Siciliana: Origine E Storia (Saggi di vocaboli siciliani derivati alle lingue grecu, latina, araba, provencale, tedesca, francese, spagnola), 2nd edizione notevomente accresciuta, Edizioni La Via, Palermo, 1973.

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Last updated 12/7/08