ASPc- Deposito 2

Archives are born – as is always the case - out of the practical needs of those who produce them, however, many archives do not survive wars or calamities of various kinds. A great number of ancient documents related to our territory were lost during the terrible sack of Piacenza by Francesco Sforza in 1447. Others were also lost in the ensuing epochs. For example, there are only few extant documents from the times of the French administration, produced when the Parma states were annexed to the French Republic, later Empire, under the denomination of Taro Department (1802 – 1814). Of that period only a small section remains, containing documents relating to tribunals, law courts and their activities. Something very similar happened to the archives of the Bourbon peripheral administration after the restoration (1814-1860). Also lost were the archives of the unified State peripheral offices, for example those of the Prefect’s office. These were lost at the end of the Second World War, between 1945 and 1950. Finally, part of the judicial, financial and school records are still to be incorporated.

Part of the archives of the central and peripheral state offices of the Piacenza Duchy can be found here but records on Piacenza can also be found in other locations. In 1545 Piacenza was joined with the Parma Duchy under the rule of the Farnese dynasty, 1545-1731, and then Bourbon regime, 1731-1802. However it was kept separate in its administrative and judicial structures nor was it subordinated to any central body until the reforms of Philip II Bourbon. At that time he created a central administration for the Duchies. These records were included in the historical Archives of the Comune, as is the case with the judicial records. Another part of these archives are preserved in the Parma State Archives. This is the case of the financial records which at the moment of the suppression of the Piacenza law courts were concentrated near the new central ones at Parma. It is also the case of the numerous parchments and documents which were brought there from the many monasteries after Napoleon suppressed them.

Historical research on Piacenza and its territory must therefore take careful consideration of the Parma documentary collection. Indeed, given the complex institutional history mentioned above, documents concerning Piacenza are also to be found in other State Archives including Parma, Milan and Turin – the latter as regards the district of Bobbio when it belonged to the Sardinian kingdom.

The various collections of documents in the Piacenza archives belong to State, local, and other public bodies, or to private citizens. They are classified by owner, provenance or nature, and are divided into three parts.

These there parts constitute the general framework of the Italian documentary heritage.

  1. Archives of the institutions of old regimes up until 1860;

  2. Archives of the offices of the Italian Unity;

  3. Other archives, which are not part of the former two sections. These are divided into categories: local and public bodies, religious institutions, families and people, land registers, notary archives, companies, associations etc.

We can distinguish seven periods in Piacenza’s political history, characterised by different public powers, and that reflect very different political situations and administrative systems. These are:

  1. Piacenza as a “Comune”, that is a municipality (1130-1336);

  2. Piacenza as a Signoria and Viscontean Principate (1336-1450);

  3. Piacenza as a Sforza Principate (1450-1512);

  4. Piacenza under the pontifical domination (1512-1545);

  5. Duchies of Piacenza (with Parma and Guastalla) of the Farnese and of the Bourbon families (1545-1731 and 1731-1802) with intervals under the domination of the Milanese and the Sardinians states;

  6. Parma and Piacenza under the French domination (1802-1814);

  7. Duchies of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla under Marie-Louise of Austria and the House of Bourbon (1814-1859).