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Title: A study of everyday life in Ħaż-Żebbuġ and its neighbourhoods : based on the acts of notary Giovanni Azzopardi, 1642
Authors: Briffa, Amy
Keywords: Żebbuġ (Malta) -- Social life and customs -- 17th century
Siġġiewi (Malta) -- Social life and customs -- 17th century
Azzopardi, Giovanni, 1616-?
Notaries -- Malta -- History -- 17th century
Malta -- History -- 17th century
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Briffa, A. (2019). A study of everyday life in Ħaż-Żebbuġ and its neighbourhoods : based on the acts of notary Giovanni Azzopardi, 1642 (Bachelor’s dissertation).
Abstract: The aim of this dissertation is to investigate society and daily life towards the mid-17th century in rural Malta by drawing on examples from notarial documents. Maltese seventeenth century notarial sources have remained relatively untapped. The present study focuses on the village of Ħaż-Żebbuġ and neighbouring parishes in the acts of a local notary whose main clientele was from that area. Most undergraduate dissertations based on notarial acts to date have primarily used sources from the 16th and 18th centuries, therefore by choosing a notary which worked around the mid-17th century I am aiming to help bridge this academic gap. Secondly, the 17th century period is also known as the time of the ‘General Crisis’, a term coined by historian Eric Hobsbawm in his 1954 article. This general backdrop of continental upheaval provides an interesting background and context within which to study social history and daily life in a rural setting. This rural dimension adds to the dissertation’s contribution, as in many cases Maltese history tends to be written from an urban perspective. Located on the southern edge of Christian Europe, Hospitaller Malta was an active player in the Mediterranean world. The present dissertation studies a moment in time – the year 1642 – under the Grandmastership of Giovanni Paolo Lascaris (1636-1657) when rapid developments were taking place both locally as well as in the Mediterranean. This dissertation is based on the first two volumes of the acts of notary Giovanni Azzopardi, who was just starting his notarial career in 1642. The first volume covers the period from the 16th of April till the 31st of August 1642, and the second from the 1st of September till the 22nd of May of 1643, however this dissertation focuses on acts drawn up to December 1642. Along with the notarial deeds, various secondary resources were used to give a clearer context and understanding to the material under study. The first chapter gives a general background setting for the period in which these acts were being drawn up, focusing on both the European sphere at large as well as more specifically on Mediterranean developments. It elaborates on the role of notarial acts in historical research and unearths information on the notary who wrote the actsunder study. The dissertation focuses mainly on the more rural, inland part of Malta, especially on the parish of Ħaż-Żebbuġ, as well as the neighbouring parishes of Siġġiewi and Ħal Qormi and related settlements. Chapter 2 focuses on the villages and parishes of Ħaż-Żebbuġ and Siġġiewi, which were the most featured in the acts. It uses the monumental work of Ġan Franġisk Abela Della descrittione di Malta Isola nel Mare Siciliano, published in 1647, as a base for descriptions of the mentioned villages and also other settlements referred to in the acts from a contemporary first-hand perspective, whilst also using more recent works. Chapter 3 then opens up in more detail on the contracts involving contracts of sale and renting of property and land, which were the most common in the acts. In Chapter 4 the focus is shifted on the people which made up the society under study- analysing more distinctive social groups such as the clergy, women and the marriage contracts,members of the nobility, and also skilled labourers. In Chapter 5 the trading world is analysed by using acts showing exchanges of goods. Inevitably the focus is on grain and cotton, which were two top products in circulation. However, another section in the same chapter also elaborates on the trading of animals, which were indispensable elementsfor the agricultural lifestyle led by most of the people. Finally I hope this dissertation acts as a candle in lighting up new areas in the research of historyof rural Malta and beyond.
Description: B.A.(HONS)HISTORY
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2019
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 2019

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