“Protimesis” and “Sultan-mezat” in the acoustic landscape of the pre-modern Moldavia. The political authority and the control over the urban space Cover Image

“Protimesis” and “Sultan-mezat” in the acoustic landscape of the pre-modern Moldavia. The political authority and the control over the urban space

Author(s): Cătălin Iulian Hriban
Subject(s): History, Archaeology, Economic history, Local History / Microhistory, Military history, Political history, Social history, Middle Ages
Published by: Editura Academiei Române
Keywords: Protimesis; sultan-mezat; tax-farming; preemption; town-criers; auctioneers; soundscape; real estate; post- Byzantine

Summary/Abstract: A particular feature of the land law in the Post-Byzantine world is the priority of seller’s relatives in any land exchange. This right of preemption, “protimesis” (προτιμήσις) was strictly enforced, any irregularities in the transaction resulting in it annulment, even one year after the fact. The “crying” of the sale, at the crossroads and in the majority of public places, had precisely the role of determining the relatives of the seller or, in certain cases, one of the previous owners of the land, to make known his/her formal optionof accepting or declining the purchase, exerting or waiving thus the right of preemption. The crying procedure used the same personnel as the procedure of public auction announcement in the cases of sale of sequestered/confiscated goods or properties (sultan mezat). As the official gazette was inexistent, the crying is the only public address instrument, for official announcements and commercial advertisement, the professional criers being equal in importance to the executors and the land surveyors. In certain cases, the crier was also employed as one of the latter, and this versatile profession is one of the bases of the concept of public servant in modern Moldavia. The main documentary source consists in the legal decisions and court orders bearing on disputed and/or seized property. As there is no clear-cut evidence for the existence of public space in the Romanian Middle Ages, the presence of the criers in the documentary sources indicate the reality of an implicit public space, with visual and sonorous existence, even though it lacks a materiality that is clear, stable and formally defined. The fixed “crying spots” at the crossroads are augmented by the mobile announcements of the infamies during the “walk” of the felons from the court to the place of punishment, which could be in certain cases the one’s domicile or the scene of one’s crime. Together with the cried official announcements, both fixed and mobile, of the government’s decisions, the real estate market is the main formal contributor to the sound-townscape in the Proto-Modern European Orient.

  • Issue Year: 36/2013
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 287-290
  • Page Count: 4
  • Language: English, Romanian