The case of the Cortes chapters is the only one that, due to these characteristics, allows the reading of the inventory to replace the consultation of the documents contained in the chest of the chamber. The high number of times that municipal officials would need to search for and read these chapters – due to the multiple and recurring provisions that regulated different areas of activity in the city – may have justified that their contents spread a little more in this inventory, providing readings faster and more uniform understandings. The degree of use of a written act will thus have justified the degree of development and detail of the description in the inventory.
From the beginning to the end of the inventory, João Afonso fulfills the function assigned to him, that of inventorying the documents belonging to the municipality. However, in one case, this clerk went further: «Item. A storm storm closed by Johane Anes that it was at this station in the quall that Pero Martiz prioll do Vimeiro sold it to the council of Evora its half of houses that are the tuscany of Beiçudo that was left by Girall Martiz his death for the right price, I receive two hundred and thirty pounds from this thing I, Joham Afonso, write from the said municipality that I have not found in any book of the said municipality. (No. 149)
In this menu, we find that João Afonso describes a legal business formalized by a notary public in the city, adding that he is unaware of the written record of the value of the forums that would pay for these houses. According to the clerk, he did not find «any kind of redemption», thus ensuring that, despite reporting in the inventory the existence of a sale in which the municipality would receive the rights to some houses in need, he did not find any record written in a book entry into the purse of the chamber of such forums. To this end, the clerk will have looked in the different books of the chamber, dedicated to the registration of acquired goods, the completion of this business.
If we take this case as a paradigm for all other inventoried documents in which the municipality is one of the parts of the legal business – for which, however, the clerk tells us nothing about the effective “redaction” of assets, probably because they were consistent with the contents of other documents -, we are led to think that João Afonso will not, in fact, have been limited to the mere description of the preserved written objects, but will have tried to assess the truth of their contents, by the documentary evidence at his disposal. The exercise of seeking to collect written records that confirm information, check amounts, cross-check data corresponds to an accurate and useful management of the documentary sets belonging to the municipality, which thus proved to be inter-communicating. Consequently, the idea that the city’s documentary archive was assembled and used repeatedly was confirmed.
The longevity of a document depends to a large extent on the usefulness conferred on it by the society that owns and preserves it48.
The “time of use” corresponds precisely to the period during which a written act is useful to its various owners, insofar as they frequently use it to find out about its contents, which handle and write it down, and recognize it as fundamental link in a wider chain of documented legal actions or other documents arising from it or the like.