Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 September 2021
Italian instances of adjudication rarely exceeded annual totals in the single digits. The few plaintiffs who did approach ecclesiastical officials were usually well-prepared from a legal standpoint. They encountered decent prospects of winning by avoiding the launch of suits without written and witness testimony. Regular supervision of the English kind was completely unknown. Although episcopal visitations brought domestic partnerships to the attention of prelates, they were undertaken too intermittently to sustain regular inquiries. Disinterest may have been tied to the fact that judgement did not imply secondary judicial benefits. Damage claims on account of sex out of wedlock were normally reserved to secular justice. As a result, public notaries assumed overriding importance when the conclusion of marital contracts was celebrated. The exact value and delivery of bridal dowries and counter-gifts had to be authenticated for future reference in endowment disputes reserved to civil and not ecclesiastical judges. Also attesting to the principal concern of elders and relatives with asset control was the recourse to papal authority for dispensation from impediments to the union. The process could skip church verification altogether in favor of automatic settlement and registration at the hands of laymen.
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