The Norman Administrative Revolution

The first form of municipal administration was introduced by the Normans in the 12th century, when Ruggeri established the Kingdom of Sicily. Though following models taken from the Greek, Roman and Saracen civilization, he introduced many original elements.
The monetary unit chosen was called "ducato", the "camerarj" were established to manage the financial administration, and the "giustizieri" for the judiciary. The normans then entrusted the "Bajuli" or "Baglivi", originally the most loyal in the court and the instructors of the children of the princes, with the administration of justice and collection of taxes.

The Magistrates of the Universitas

In 1338 under the reign of Roberto of Anjou, in the smallest places the "baglivi" were confirmed as responsible for the civil administration, small thefts and crimes, and the weights and measurements used. In the big towns instead new magistrates were introduced, such as the "Giustiziere", the "Vicario Regio", the "Capitano Generale".

The Universitas was an association of citizens (small town) with its own statutes, partly or wholly independent from feudal lords. At the top of the Universitas there were a "Sindaco" and a "Mastrogiurato" with different, specific authorities. The Mastrogiurato was a judge in all the Portolania affairs, that is he dealt with the taxes paid by sellers, artisans, shopkeepers who occupied the public soil building new sites or transforming existing houses. The Portolania tax was collected by the "Portolani di Terra", employees of the Universitas who were also entrusted with looking after the cleaning of streets, squares and public places.

The Mastrogiurato was also responsible for the mint, for the small fines, and administered justice in times of fairs and markets.The Sindaco instead, with two or four "eletti" to help him, was responsible for the "granscia". They were paid with a small percentage of the tax on food. Sindaco and Mastrogiurato were electedevery five years by the Parliament of the Universitas, composed by the "decurioni", a number of head of families chosen by the citizens themselves.

The Catasti

The most important task entrusted to the "Sindaco" and Mastrogiurato was to collect the taxes based on the catasti (census with properties) that had already been established in the kingdom. The Catasti were all subject to the Regia Camera della Sommaria (similar to the present-day Ministry of Finance) which in 1826 also established the sum that each municipality (previously universitas) was allowed to spend. Before 1740 all taxes were collected according to the "fuochi" (a family living under thasame roof) on the assumption of abstract values for the properties, so that there was widespread injustice and disparity. The first "numerazione dei fuochi" (counting of families) took place under Alfonso d'Aragona, 1443-1458; the king established that each "fuoco" sould pay one "ducato" and 52 "grani" in exchange for a "tomolo" of salt. Later on, each Universitas was entrusted with drawing out a "Catasto" listing families and their possessions. Finally the properties were evaluated and the taxes established on a measure called "oncia" and the records produced were called "Catasti Onciari". Each Universitas should make out two copies of the Catasto, every given number of years, keep one for future reference, and send the other to the Regia camera della Sommaria in Naples.