A History of Aragon and Catalonia. Social and Constitutional Organizationbook Aragon in English. Spain.

A History of Aragon and Catalonia. Social and Constitutional Organization book History Aragon Aragon

Aragon in English > book > History Aragon

Social and Constitutional Organization

[109] Grades of nobility. The clergy. Relations with the Papacy. Heresy and the Inquisition. The middle classes. Moors and Jews, Municipal government. The Cortes. Powers of the Crown. The Justicia. Military organisation. Revenues. Agriculture, industry and commerce.

Repeated reference has been made to the struggles of the Crown with the nobility, struggles which occupied much of the next reign, that of Alfonso III. The constitutions of both Aragon and Catalonia had by this time assumed settled forms, some description of which is necessary, if the nature of the differences between Crown and nobility is to be understood.

Feudalism and the social distinctions which it implied were especially tenacious in Aragon. Four grades of nobility were eventually recognized. The first were the ricoshombres de natura, who regarded themselves as descended from the original conquerors of the county of Aragon, and were possibly in origin vassals holding lands in the Spanish mark directly from the Frankish King. Such was their relation to the Crown in historical times the statement that their number was limited to nine contains no more truth than the fact that they strongly objected to an addition to their order made by James I. They received lands from the King on life tenure in return for military service; these honores became, in course of time, hereditary and the term was also applied to the rents of particular towns assigned to each noble by the King to enable him to maintain a proper number of knights in his service. The ricoshombres were thus noble by tradition and birth as well as by tenure, in which respect they differed from the Catalan nobility. The name has been regarded as of Gothic origin; the simpler explanation is that the bravest and most competent warrior in early times obtained the largest share of the conquered land and [110] thus became the richest. Among their privileges were exemption from corporal punishment and the right to trial by their peers; they were under obligation to serve for two months in the year and for a longer time, if the King paid their expenses. James I introduced a new order, ricoshombres de la mesnada, specially attached to his household, but the innovation caused so much ill-feeling that he promised at Exea in 1265 to confer honores only upon those who were noble by birth. Until 1196, the Crown had the right of redistributing the honores at the beginning of each reign; Pedro II agreed to regard these as hereditary, in return for the cession of supreme judicial power. Ricoshombres were also known as barons, though a baron was not necessarily a ricohombre; of the sons of a ricohombre only one could inherit the dignity; others belonged to the lower class of nobility.

These were the caballeros, also known as mesnaderos, knights attached to the mesnada or royal household. They might be no less important and powerful than the ricoshombres, but differed from them by the accident of birth. Originally vassals only of the King, they were allowed in course of time to hold lands as vassals of the ricoshombres, and if their possessions and influence were sufficient, could rise to the dignity of baron. Below these were the infanzones, who were competent to receive knighthood and were in the position of esquires; they were exempt from taxation and were bound to serve in war for three days. A valued right of every class of nobility was that of desnaturalización, of renunciation of allegiance to the Crown upon giving due notice. A noble who wished to attack one of his own standing was obliged to issue a formal defiance ten days beforehand in the presence of witnesses. Nobles who did not take the field when summoned for military service were liable to a fine and could also commute their service for a payment analogous to the English scutage. Apart from any tax that they might themselves vote in a Cortes, they were under no other pecuniary obligation to the Crown. In Catalonia the feudal classes were known as condes, vizcondes, valvasores and vasallos, the first three of which were nobles and were also known generically as barones. The valvasor was the holder of a fief who could maintain at least five knights.

[111] The general organization of the Church, which was represented in the Cortes as a separate estate of the realm, was uniform throughout the peninsula; the Bishop governed his diocese under the Archbishop, who was responsible to Rome; the monastic and mendicant orders governed themselves under their own abbots, priors and provincials. The Crown, as a rule, was anxious to secure the support of the Church; James I advised his son-in-law Alfonso of Castile to "keep the Church in his love," and also the towns, as a means of checking the nobility; the court Chancellor was usually a bishop and bishops performed other governmental functions for the Crown. The Church had its own courts; but Aragon was free from the abuses that ecclesiastical jurisdiction aroused elsewhere, the general rule being that actions of clergy against laity came before a secular court and actions of laity against clergy before a bishop's court. Clergy enjoyed immunity from taxation, their persons were under the royal protection, and they are not found at any time at variance with the King as the nobles often were, The Crown, however, was jealous of any attempt upon the part of the Church to acquire landed property; James I was censured by Clement IV for demanding to see the title-deeds to ecclesiastical estates, and for restricting the endowments of the Church in Valencia. The legal codes declared that persons entering religious orders without the consent of their parents were liable to be disinherited, nor could any landed property be transferred to the Church without the consent of the Crown. The relations of the Church with the papacy were, to some extent, dependent upon those of the King with that power, and these varied from time to time. Pedro II made himself tributary to Rome; James I owed his crown to Rome; Pedro III broke with the papacy entirely. In general, the Aragonese kings were willing to acknowledge papal supremacy in spiritual matters and to go their own way in temporal concerns; James, for instance, accepted the Pope's objection to a nominee of his own for the Archbishopric of Tarragona in 1234, and Pedro III allowed the papal interdict to take effect without opposition. Reference has already been made to the Cluniac reforms; while they raised the standard of discipline to some extent, the general morality of the Church during this period can be [112] described only as low. The rule of celibacy was continually disregarded; clergy lived openly with women as their wives, an arrangement known as barraganía, and even left bequests to their children in their wills, or secured their legitimization by other means. The cruelty which refused to accept the surrender upon terms of Moorish garrisons, as at the siege of Mallorca, may be excused as due to fanaticism; but in 1254 the Bishop of Urgel was degraded for simony, incest, adultery and other crimes; in 1257 the famous monastery of Ripoll was hopelessly in debt to the Jews, while provincial councils and synods issued canons and measures against profligacy and luxury of living and dress. In the South of France, conditions were even worse, as might be expected during the period of the Albigensian wars, and some of the disorders among the Spanish clergy were doubtless due to the example of clerical immigrants from beyond the Pyrenees. Both Pedro II and James I forbade heresy and James permitted the establishment of an inquisition in Catalonia in 1269 which is said to have burned many heretics and exhumed the bones of others; in Aragon inquisitions were forbidden by the fueros. At the same time, the Church produced pious and learned men. The famous saint Ramon de Penyafort was chaplain to Pope Gregory IX shortly after 1230 and drew up a collection of papal decretals; after declining the Arch-bishopric of Tarragona, he was at Barcelona in 1238 when he was appointed General of the Dominicans, an office which he resigned in 1240 to devote himself to the conversion of the Moors, which he hoped to do by promoting the study of Arabic. Other well-known missionaries were Pedro Nolasco and Ramon Nonnatus of the Order of Mercy, an association formed for ransoming Christians from captivity among the Moors, which released many slaves from Granada and Africa.

As to the middle classes, they were divided in Aragonese towns into burgueses, citizens following the liberal professions, and hombres de condicion, who were artisans, shopkeepers and the like. In Barcelona and probably in other towns where commerce was highly developed, the second class was subdivided; those occupied as bankers, doctors, advocates and the like formed the mà major, the greater hand; the ordinary merchants, the mà mitjana, the middle hand, and the artisans and workmen the mà menor, the lesser hand. Peasants [113] and slaves were known as mezquinos, and in documents as peitarii, villani, casati, collatii; until the thirteenth century they were able to move about the country, but became by degrees attached to an overlord and to the soil, and their condition grew steadily worse. Moorish slaves were not, as in Castile, personal property but were bound to the soil and were known as exaricos. In Catalonia and probably in Aragon the property of a serf fell to his lord upon his death; the custom was then introduced of allowing his family to continue to cultivate his land and to pay his dues, with the result that the labourer was regarded as a part of the land and was sold with it. On the whole, he was probably worse off under the more developed feudalism of Aragon and Catalonia than in Castile.

The remaining portions of the population were the foreign elements represented by the Moorish mozárabes and mudéjares and the Jews. The mozárabes had increased as the line of Christian conquest advanced; mention has been made of the favour shown to those of Andalucía by Alfonso I. But they, like the Jews, were regarded, as everywhere in the Middle Ages, as royal serfs with no rights of their own; "Judei servi regis sunt, et semper fisco regio deputati" (Fuero of Teruel, no. 425, in the year 1176). Thus James I refused to allow the taxation of Jews in Montpellier, as being an infringement of the royal prerogative. The King could transfer this right to a noble, if he so wished. Jews were not allowed to leave the country, and if they travelled abroad for commercial purposes, they were obliged to leave adequate security behind them to guarantee their return; the Crown, however, seems to have had no legal claim to their personal property, but they could not sell land without royal permission and were obliged to surrender a third of the price to the Crown. They were subject to the same taxation as the Christians, but paid taxes as communities, not as individuals; such annual payments were known as peita, questia, tallia or tributum and are first mentioned in 1254. Whether the Jewish communities paid more than the Christian towns is uncertain; the poll-tax, or cabessagium was levied as a general rule only upon Moors. The policy of the Crown towards the Jewish and Moorish elements was directed by a desire to support the Christian religion, [114] to safeguard the interests of Christian subjects and to enrich the royal treasury. The fourth Lateran Council attempted to secure the first of these objects, by ordering that Jews should wear a special dress; this regulation was not always strictly enforced in Aragon and Jews were able to secure relief from it by monetary payments. Under James I and his successors the royal finances were largely in the hands of Jews, who were often the creditors of the Crown; court secretaries and doctors were generally Jews. Repeated, if spasmodic, attempts to convert them were undertaken under the stimulus of exhortations from Rome and the Dominican Order. The Crown was concerned to see that these efforts did not impair the pecuniary value of the Jewish communities, for which they had a considerable respect; in 1247 James I offered protection to all Jews who settled in his territory; he and Pedro III attempted to colonize Valencia with Jews; James II in 1306 offered a home to the French Jews who had been expelled by Philip the Fair. These and other efforts of the Crown to protect Jews and their property were actuated solely by self-interest; the royal methods of realizing this interest were arbitrary in the extreme ; if the Crown was in extremities, heavy loans or taxation might be demanded; in 1372 Pedro IV drove the Jews of Barcelona by his excessive demands to seek help from their co-religionists in France. Territorial lords and such knightly orders as those of Calatrava and the Temple held rights over Jews within their territory, analogous to those of the Crown; but the Crown could claim a share of any taxation which they levied, so that some Jews were subject to two masters. The towns (with the exception of Tortosa for reasons unknown) could not tax the Jews for communal purposes, as such action would have infringed the rights of the Crown. They could, however, exact from Jews a share of the expenses incurred upon works of public utility, such as the erection or repair of walls and defences. From the end of the thirteenth century the towns obliged the Jews to live in a separate quarter, a judería, where they formed an aljama, a community of their own, and were distinguished from the Christian population by various regulations affecting dress and other matters. In general, the towns were suspicious of the Jewish communities and it was through town influence that Jewish [115] officials were removed from the financial departments of Pedro III and Alfonso III. Barcelona secured from Alfonso V the privilege of refusing admittance to would-be Jewish immigrants; on the other hand, cases occur of small towns which invited Jews to settle within their walls, in the hope of increasing their commerce.

No reliable estimate is possible of the number of Jews within Aragonese territory; they were more numerous in Barcelona than anywhere else. In general, they were allowed to observe their religious practices without restraint and were protected by the kings against the Church and the Inquisition, which could proceed only against relapsed Jewish proselytes or against Christian converts to Judaism. In the fourteenth century the Inquisitors gained more power and Jews were constantly brought before their courts, while in times of famine or heavy taxation they were often the objects of popular animosity. Jews were not without legal rights. They had their own courts of justice and cases occurred when Christians were obliged to plead in these; a Christian who killed a Jew was not liable to capital punishment, but might be heavily fined. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Jews were allowed to possess land, which they held in theory from the Crown, a practice which continued for a longer time in Aragon than in Castile, where they were expropriated by the end of the fourteenth century. Apart from liberty of buying and selling, Jews were also allowed to lend money at interest; James I forbade compound interest; the usual rate was 20 per cent per month and 16 per cent if the loan was made for a longer period than a year; the interest was never to exceed the amount of the loan, though exceptions to the rule were allowed in some towns, notably Montpellier and Perpignan. The money-lender was obliged to swear obedience to the law concerning loans before a public court and was then given a licence, without which he could not recover at law.

Moriscos and mudéjares were under regulations very similar to those which settled the social position of the Jews. They had their own courts and magistrates and were protected by the Crown from Christian oppression. To their labours was due much of the productivity of the country and in some cases their overlords stimulated their efforts by allowing [116] them a modified ownership of the soil which they paid for on a metayer system; such holders were known as exaricos. The papal decrees which obliged them to wear a special dress to distinguish them from the Christian population were not at first strictly enforced and there was little restriction upon intercourse between Moors and Christians. But as time went on, barriers were raised by ecclesiastical influence and the Moors were obliged to live in quarters of their own within the towns.

Reference has been already made to the reasons which induced the Crown to grant special privileges, fueros, to particular towns. Such towns or universidades were outside the powers of the Church or nobility and were responsible to the King alone; they became, as in Castile, a political power of inestimable value to the Crown in its struggles with the nobility. Municipal government was in the hands of a body of jurats, chosen by the citizens or, in some cases, choosing their own successors. They were expected to consult the general assembly of the townsmen, the concell, upon any matter of importance to the whole community. The alcaldes appear as judges in civil cases, and were generally appointed by popular election; with them were the judices, judges in criminal matters, usually appointed by the Crown. The King was represented by a batlle or bailiff who was responsible for collecting the royal revenues, and towns of importance had a supreme judicial authority known as the Justicia (in Zaragoza as the zalmedina and in Valencia as the alcait). While local variations of these arrangements are found, the general principle is uniform; the Crown is permanently represented in each town, but local government is in the hands of the municipality. The Crown is the fount of justice and cases can be carried to the royal courts of appeal; but the local magistrate, in giving his decisions, must consider the opinion of the jurats; as there was no system of circuits bringing judges to hear appeals, the powers of the local courts were extensive. There was no mayor or other official to act as the figure-head of the municipality, nor does the need of such a functionary seem to have been felt. Towns formed unions among themselves, for mutual protection, trade or other purposes; these unions were known as comunidades and took the name [117] of the leading town in the union, for the formation of which the royal permission was required. In the thirteenth century such unions were usually formed for police purposes and were known as juntas; they were under the command of a sobrejuntero whose business was the maintenance of public order. The force thus raised was known in Catalonia as sometent, the members of which were allowed to possess arms and were bound to answer any summons for joint action.

Representatives of the upper classes had been accustomed to meet in Aragon from the year 1071, and from these were developed the Cortes. The lower classes were not represented until the towns had risen to some importance and the date of their appearance in the Cortes is uncertain. The Aragonese Cortes were composed of four brazos or estates, the ricoshombres, the caballeros, the clergy and the towns; not all of the nobles had the right of representation and in course of time the right was restricted to those towns which contained at least four hundred households (fuegos).The Cortes could be convoked only by the King, who was bound to summon them once every five years, and, after the union of Aragon and Catalonia, every other year; but the kings did not strictly observe this obligation. The business of the Cortes was to receive the King's oath that he would observe the laws and fueros of the realm; to swear allegiance to the heirs to the throne; to put forward complaints of individuals or towns concerning the administration; to vote service in money or kind, as the needs of the Crown required, and to approve of legislation initiated by the King. Unanimity, not majority, was required to secure the adoption of any proposal; and it may be noted that the larger towns had several votes, while the smaller had but one. The Catalan Cortes consisted of three estates only, clergy, nobles and townsmen; it is probable that the subdivision of the Aragonese nobility which gave their Cortes four estates did not take place until after the union. The first general Cortes of the two countries were held in 1162, but both the Aragonese and Catalan Cortes continued to meet independently after this date; Valencia also had Cortes of its own after the conquest of the province. The usual place of meeting was Zaragoza or Barcelona, which towns each enjoyed the privilege of five votes in the Cortes, but the King was at liberty to summon meetings elsewhere. [118] Contrary to the practice in Castile, redress must precede supply; the Cortes could make the grant of any unusual request for supplies conditional upon royal compliance with its wishes. In any case, the Crown could not afford to disregard national sentiment as expressed in such an assembly, and it also found the Cortes useful as a means of adding to the prestige of the towns in opposition to the refractory nobility, who were more anxious to secure the triumph of baronial privilege than of parliamentary independence, as was seen in the famous Cortes of Exea. Thus, when large supplies were needed to meet some general emergency, the Crown was forced to recognize the general principle that what "touches all should be approved by all," and the fact remains that popular representation was of more ancient institution in Aragon than in any other European monarchy.

The powers of the Crown were thus far more limited than in other monarchies of the time. In Castile, the King was regarded as the vicegerent of God upon earth; in Aragon, he was primus inter pares, and his authority was the object of jealousy and suspicion on the part of nobles and townsmen alike. The kings themselves considered that they ruled Dei gratia, but the concessions extorted from so absolutist a ruler as James I by his nobles at the Cortes of Exea in 1265 are enough to show that he was considered by his barons as no more than their feudal superior, a claim reinforced by reference to the mythical fuero of Sobrarbe, which stated that the Aragonese elected their king upon condition that he swore to maintain their territorial rights and privileges and to make neither war, nor peace, nor treaty with other powers without the knowledge and consent of the ricoshombres. Such is probably the origin of exaggerated statements concerning the weakness of the King's position; when, for instance, Argensola says that in Aragon, "hubo antes leyes que reyes," he is overstating the case. James I came into collision with his nobles, because he was an absolutist who ruled constitutionally only when it suited his purpose; Pedro III embarked the kingdom upon the Sicilian adventure without consulting his subjects, as secrecy was necessary to his purpose, and was obliged in consequence to grant the General Privilege to the Cortes of Zaragoza in 1283, which declared that absolutism was entirely foreign to [119] the constitution of Aragon. In short, adventurous and ambitious kings were hampered by the democratic character of the constitution and people, and were naturally inclined to govern according to the practice of other contemporary monarchs.

The Crown of Aragon had certain powers which made the holder of them a formidable antagonist to the most refractory of nobles. The King, in the first place, was the fount of legislation, in the sense, that if he failed to initiate legislation or opposed it, laws were not likely to be passed. He could confer upon towns and individuals "privileges," such as municipal charters, grants, legitimations, exemptions and the like ; while the Cortes could sanction or reject laws presented for approval, those laws must have been introduced by the King and drawn up by his lawyers. His executive powers were also great; he was the supreme judge and held the final court of appeal; as a feudal superior, he could summon any subject before him to answer for an offence. He could deprive nobles of their fiefs or "honours" and impose certain dues upon them. The King was thus chief judge, legislator and commander, with powers of initiating action which the Cortes never possessed. The checks upon him were the fact that he was dependent upon the Cortes for any considerable grant in aid, and that he must submit any differences with the Aragonese nobility to arbitration, the arbitrator being the Justicia of Aragon.

The existence and the peculiar position and functions of this official have always been regarded as a feature unique in medieval constitutions ; in the plenitude of his power, the Justicia undoubtedly acted as an intermediary between the Crown and its subjects; he was the keeper of the King's conscience, the highest interpreter of the law and the final referee in cases of dispute; he was a permanent counsellor of the King whom he accompanied everywhere as a kind of Lord Chancellor. Aragonese tradition regarded the office as created by the fuero of Sobrarbe, which is said to have provided a "judex medius... qui judicaret et esset judex inter regem et ejus vasallos," in the words of the unreliable Blancas who is inclined to accept traditions as historical which had before his time won their way to the fabulous. The fact that the Justicia was appointed by the King himself [120] would inevitably impair his authority as an independent referee. His mediatory powers were conferred upon him at the Cortes of Exea in 1265, when the nobles secured that he should always be a knight, as a ricohombre was exempt from corporal punishment and could not easily be called to account. The Justicia was, in origin, the most prominent member of the body of lawyers and judges who formed the royal curia, and his function was to promulgate the sentences and decisions of that court; in arbitration cases between king and nobles or between nobles themselves he merely pronounced the sentence decided by his assessors, nor could he try any suit of importance without the help of assessors. The Cortes of Exea made personal to the Justicia functions which he had previously performed as merely delegated to him, and from that time his powers of arbitration increase. The General Privilege, secured by the nobles from Pedro III in 1283, made the Justicia the judge in all cases where the rights granted by earlier fueros or customs had been infringed by the Crown. During the unfortunate reign of Alfonso III, the nobles extorted a new charter, the Union, which greatly increased their influence; the King undertook to proceed against no member of the Union, unless the Justicia had pronounced against him with the approval of the Cortes, which were to be held annually in Zaragoza, and if the King infringed the terms of the Union, disobedience to him was not to be considered as treason. In short, as Alfonso put it, "en Aragon había tantos reyes como ricoshombres." James II succeeded in revoking these privileges, but until his time the purpose of the Justicia was to watch over the privileges of the nobles under their supervision, rather than to mediate between them and the Crown. Until the end of our period it was also his business to preserve two privileges concerned with the penal law, the right of manifestación, which enabled a defendant to claim a right of asylum with the Justicia, who protected him from annoyance of any kind until his case was decided, and the right of firmas, which enabled the Justicia to secure immunity for the property of a litigant until sentence had been passed.

Other royal functionaries of importance were the Chancellor, who was treasurer for the whole kingdom, and the Major-domo of Aragon, who possessed judicial powers in a [121] court of appeal, and commanded the cavalry in battle. The Major-domo of the Palace was a Catalan office, the holder acting as steward to the royal household in Catalonia; he was appointed by the Seneschal of Catalonia, who was the commander-in-chief of the Catalan army, an office hereditary in the Moncada family.

The military organization of the kingdom did not differ materially from that of any other medieval state. The army was composed of feudal levies, municipal troops and mercenaries. The townsmen were probably not obliged to serve outside of the kingdom and nobles occasionally refused obedience; it was perhaps to overcome this danger that James I instituted the mesnaderos, a class of nobility in close relation with himself. Of the mercenaries, the most notable were the Almogávares, who became for a short time the terror of Anatolia, when the Catalans made their expedition to the East. The name is said to be a corruption of the Arabic al-mughawir or "raider." They were light armed foot-soldiers and cavalry, armed with darts which they threw with great force and accuracy and with a sword or other weapon for fighting at close quarters; defensive armour they had little or none and relied for success upon their bodily agility. Extremely mobile and unencumbered with baggage, they could march immense distances and live upon the country as they went. The Aragonese army possessed the usual supply of rams, mangoriels, towers on wheels and other devices for attacking fortifications. Their fleet was provided by the Catalans, whose wide maritime experience made this arm of the service as efficient as any in Europe. The military orders, such as the Templars and the Hospitallers, had settled in Aragon at an early date and proved a valuable military support to the Crown, though the wealth and influence which they acquired made them a source of occasional trouble, as was the case in Castile.

The Crown revenues consisted of the income from the royal domains throughout the kingdom; salt was a royal monopoly and mines were worked near Zaragoza and Xátiva; there were taxes on cattle, known as herbage and carnage, and upon Jews and Muslims; dues upon merchandise and the proceeds of the administration of justice, fees, fines and confiscations; the coinage also produced a profit. The collection of these [122] revenues was generally farmed out in return for a lump sum, an iniquitous system in vogue also in Castile. To these regular sources of revenues were added extraordinary revenues, aids voted by the Cortes, which usually took the form of monage, a property tax, in Aragon, and of bovage, a tax upon each yoke of oxen, in Catalonia; voluntary grants for some special enterprise might be made by towns or individuals, and in time of war redemptions for default of service were exacted. There were many exemptions; nobles and clergy paid nothing except such sums as they chose to vote from time to time or the redemption money in lieu of military service, and certain towns enjoyed immunities from particular forms of taxation; Barcelona and Valencia were free from taxes on merchandise; Figueras was free from bovage, herbage and dues on merchandise; Villanueva from all feudal dues, while the Temple and Hospital had the right to free trade. The wasteful system of farming the taxes also tempted kings to anticipate their incomes by pledging them to money-lenders and creditors; the Crown was at times reduced to financial straits; we hear of James I pawning his shield and jewels, and paying his tailor with an exemption from taxation.

The condition of agriculture, industry and commerce was naturally reflected in the royal revenues. In Aragon, the olive appears to have been cultivated even earlier than in Castile, wines, corn and rice were also produced in considerable quantities and supplied the deficiencies of Catalonia in these commodities. Much of the Aragonese land was and is of quality too poor for cultivation, and stockbreeding or sheep-farming was developed upon a considerable scale; there was some manufacture of leather and woollen textiles. In Valencia and Mallorca, agriculture was the principal industry and was carried on by the numerous mudéjares who had remained there. Fabrics of wool, cotton and silk were manufactured, and a large trade developed. Catalonia was chiefly occupied with commerce, and agriculture was there of less importance than in other parts of the Aragonese kingdom. Wine and cereals were produced, but the energies of the province were largely given to manufacture which had been learned in part from the Italian republics. Gerona, Lérida, Vich and especially Barcelona produced iron-ware, wine barrels, leather, glass, [123] cordage, textiles of every kind and objects of luxury, jewellery and art pottery. The dyeing of cloth was an important industry. Commerce overseas was in the hands of the Catalonians and Barcelona was the chief centre of trade, while Montpellier was not far behind it. Barcelona was a town in which trade was never considered derogatory, as it was in Castile; all trades of any importance were represented in the town council no less than the learned professions, such as law or medicine. The port was visited by vessels from France, Italy, Greece, Sicily, Syria, Africa, and in general from all parts of the Mediterranean. Commercial relations were closest with Pisa and Genoa and a series of commercial treaties with these towns was concluded. The extension of trade necessitated the maintenance of a fleet of warships to protect the merchant-men; under James I began a system of sending commercial representatives (consules) to foreign ports to watch over Catalan interests, and consulats de mar were established for the same purpose in the chief ports of Catalonia and Valencia. This traffic was regulated by a body of custom which gained the force of law as time went on and was eventually codified in the famous Llibre del Consulat de mar at some unknown date. A similar compilation at Tortosa belongs to the thirteenth century. Trade was not free, except in the case of towns which had been granted immunity, and port or excise duties contributed regularly to the royal revenues. The amounts received show a steady increase, but the Crown was generally in debt and the Aragonese kingdom was not regarded abroad as particularly rich, if we may judge by a remark made by Clement IV to the King of France in 1268, when he asserted that the total tithe in James's dominions did not amount to more than a sum equivalent to £100,000 of our money.

This work was originally published by Methuan Publishing Ltd. in 1933.
Pagination of the original edition is indicated set off in brackets, as in [19].



Ample your information on Aragon

If you want to extend your information on Aragon you can begin crossing another interesting route is the Mudejar, Patrimony of the Humanity, also you can extend your cultural knowledge on Aragon examining its municipal and institutional heraldry without forgetting, of course, some of its emblematics figures as Saint George Pattern of Aragon also book of Aragon.

Also Aragon enjoys a diverse and varied Nature where passing by plants, animals or landscapes we can arrive at a fantastic bestiario that lives in its monuments.

The information will not be complete without a stroll by its three provinces: Zaragoza, Teruel and Huesca and his shines, with shutdown in some of its spectacular landscapes like Ordesa, the Moncayo or by opposition the Ebro.

Also you can dedicarte to the intangible ones: from the legend compilation that also does to universal Aragon you can persecute the presence of del Santo Grial in Aragon.



Huesca | Teruel | Zaragoza | Aragon | Maps |
Fauna | Flora | Geology | Fungi |
Tourism | Mudejar | Goya | Alphabetical Index | Thematic



A History of Aragon and Catalonia. Social and Constitutional Organization

Copyright 1996-2024 © All Rights Reserved Javier Mendivil Navarro, Aragon (Spain)

Explanations or to correct errors please press here

Legal Warning . This activity of the Asociacion Cultural Aragon Interactivo y Multimedia
All administration or public institution is made independently off.
As opposed to the threat of the hope of the water trasvase: CONGRATULATIONS.

To find out how Google uses information from websites or applications on this site, you can visit: Cookies Politic.