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By Robert Brentano

Extraordinary historian Robert Brentano presents a completely new point of view at the personality of the church, faith, and society within the medieval Italian diocese of Rieti from 1188 to 1378. Combing via a cache of formerly missed records kept in a tower of the cathedral, he makes use of wills, litigation lawsuits, economic debts, and different documents to reconstruct the way of life of the diocese.

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But I have decided, as much as I can, except for that comparison necessary for definition, to stay within my own evidence, even when it is meager. The value of local history is, I think, to show what its historian thinks he knows happened, knows existed, in its one placeto offer that pure to other historiansnot to fill in what must have happened, what reasonably would have happened. But this is a pattern that is very hard to follow, like pure nominalism, perhaps impossibleand what historian of the canons of Rieti could keep his eyes from wandering to the documents about the canons of Narni?

Moving from city to country, and to town or village, from the rules of a great barony to the many speaking voices of a rural inquest and to the amplified voice of a single reacting bishop perhaps will create, at least, a sounding board for the Reatine sermon. The city itself, for all the surrounding rusticity, was (and is) in the center of Italy and only about eighty kilometers, on the Via Salaria, north and slightly east of Rome. 13 The early thirteenth-century city (plate 9) stretched from west to east in an extended and uneven oval for 1,200 meters (which was at its widest point about 450 meters from north to south) on an outcropping (402 meters above sea level), a ridge above, and north of, the river Velino, where the river was met by the Via Salaria coming from Rome, and where parts of the Roman bridge remain.

To the hospital capitis Arci he left 5 soldi. An uncertain but suggestive spiritual profile is drawn: family; attachment to the parish of San Ruffo, and perhaps to its neighborhood extending to San Basilio, with its tone of caste; a nod to a great old Benedictine monastery; and serious money for the cathedral church of Santa Maria particularly for building at what was probably a crucial point in the church's long building campaign. To this is added the 5 soldi for the hospital. These 5 soldi are in the line of the interpretation of Christ which will send Colaxia again and again through the city of Rieti searching for a poor orphan girl.

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