During the last two decades, Italian historiography has devoted much interest to matrimonial matters, thus aligning research on this theme with the European debate. Within the panorama of matrimonial trials, the documents pertaining to Asti’s episcopal court (c. 1265-1320) are remarkable in terms of precocity and continuity. The court’s administration of justice was "reactive" in nature and heavily oriented towards the reconstructions proposed by the parties. In the few cases relative to individuals from the higher echelons, the court took into account the status of the confronting parties. In other cases, the court redefined relationships which were polymorphic and flexible in character. This was partly due to the weakness of the web of social ties, to their mobility, or to the uncertainty with which family structures could be reconstructed; structures which seemingly did not preclude the fostering of kin relations. The court thus exercised a reordering and orienting function that at times accepted the actors’ requests, but did not hesitate to impose limits to the informality of the unions by denying their legitimacy.
Keywords: Episcopal court; marriage; social status; consanguinity; mobility; Asti.