A perusal of the judicial disputes between Muslims and Christians does not disclose the infliction of gross injustices on the Mudejars by the kingdom's courts. On the contrary, such litigation shows that the laws of the kingdom were for the Mudejars more often a source of protection against Christian aggressors than an oppressive burden. To discover the true legal oppression of the Mudejars, one must look beyond their lawsuits with Christians to the cases in which they were penalized for the violation of laws that applied almost exclusively to them. Mudejars were arraigned, tried, and harshly punished for acts that the authorities viewed as crimes only because they had been committed by Muslims, believers of an "inferior" religion that also constituted a political threat. The same body of laws that often protected the Mudejars from the aggression and abuse of Christians also brought home to them with brutal clarity their socioreligious inferiority and political subjection in a Christian kingdom.
One area in which the laws of the kingdom weighed heavily against the Mudejars was that of sexual relations between Muslims and Christians. Boswell has convincingly described how these laws established a
sexual and religious double standard that facilitated the sexual exploitation of Muslim women by Christian men. Still, it is a point worth belaboring, especially since the situation in some respects seems to have deteriorated by the late fifteenth century.
The Furs provided that in the case of a Muslim man sleeping with a Christian woman, both parties were to be burned alive. In the case of a Christian man sleeping with a Muslim woman, however, the man received no punishment whatsoever, while the woman was punished according to Islamic law for fornication or adultery (unless she was a licensed prostitute), which meant either flogging or death by stoning. The Islamic penalties were invariably commuted to enslavement. Thus, as Boswell concludes, "those members of the society with no power, i.e., Muslims and women, were penalized for unions which were permissible for members with power, i.e., Christian men."
The severity of the prescribed penalties did not deter Muslims and Christians from such liaisons. The abundance of Christian and Muslim prostitutes in the kingdom made deterrence extremely difficult. In fact, in the large majority of illicit unions between Muslim men and Christian women the women were prostitutes. The law, however, made no distinctions with respect to the status and profession of the Christian woman, so that Muslims were punished for sexual relations with Christian prostitutes as well as with Christian wives and daughters. In one case Muslims were actually sentenced to be burned alive for having availed themselves of the services of a Christian prostitute, although probably because some coercion was involved. Still, in most cases the criminal proceedings against Muslim males for sexual crimes did not result in a death sentence. Neither the king nor the nobility could afford to lose the services of Muslim vassals in this way. Thus, some guilty Muslims were heavily fined. Abrahim Murçi was fined 400s for having merely solicited a Christian woman (prostitute?), while Azmet Mufferix paid the hefty fine of 1,000s for having slept with a prostitute. Those who lacked the resources to pay such fines were probably enslaved. In this way the lord still retained the services of his vassal, or at least cashed in on the sale of the slave.
It is difficult to know whether or not Christian women were punished for these liaisons. It seems that legal procedure was initiated against Catherine, the wife of Christofol Pujol, for her affair with Ayet Capo.
There were very few instances of sexual relations between Christian men and Muslim women who were not prostitutes or slaves. Cases like that of the Muslim girl of Liria who ran off with her Christian lover, Jaume Ricarder, converted to Christianity, and set up house with him, were a rarity (the girl's father accused Ricarder of abducting his
daughter). The jealousy with which Mudejar fathers guarded the chastity of their daughters—against other Muslims, and certainly all the more against Christians—precluded such liaisons.
The sexual exploitation of Muslim women is most evident in the authorities' promotion of Muslim prostitution, which went hand in hand with the flagrant interference of Christians in the private lives of Muslims. The motives of all Christians involved—king, lords, and owners of female Muslim slaves—were blatantly economic. The Crown's legal stance on the question of Muslim prostitution set the tone for all related abuses: Muslim women could practice prostitution only with a license purchased from the Crown; all unlicensed prostitutes were to be penalized with enslavement to the Crown. On a number of occasions the bailiff general dispatched deputies to arrest all unlicensed prostitutes, who, the bailiff noted, were plying their trade "in great damage and detriment of the rights and revenues of the ... lord king." Once arrested, these women were sold into slavery for the profit of the Crown. Their new masters often put them out as prostitutes and retained the earnings of the women for themselves, despite the laws prohibiting such practices. Thus, these enslaved prostitutes were forced to commit for another's profit the same acts for which they had originally incurred punishment.
Realizing that revenues were to be had from the promotion and regulation of Muslim prostitution, royal and seigneurial authorities sought new recruits from among the condemned in the Islamic courts. There the authorities commuted to slavery the Islamic penalties to which the qadi[*] had sentenced Mudejar adulteresses. Many of these slaves were probably put to work in the royal brothels. If the aljamas did not object to Christian interference in this sensitive area, it was because the rigid sexual mores of the Mudejars relegated adulterers and fornicators to the status of social and family outcasts. The enslavement of these women to the Crown was, the Mudejars realized, by no means a merciful act, but a form of execution more gradual than stoning, albeit no less symbolic of their social death in the eyes of the Muslim community.
However, Christian interference in the Muslims' private lives became excessively predatory. Christians hovered about like vultures waiting to feed off the sexual transgressions and social miseries of Muslims. They acquired a knowledge of Mudejar laws and customs to suit their own purposes. This would explain the bizarre case in which Manuel Lançol, the lord of Gilet, accused a Muslim couple of Murviedro of living in sin, of not being legally married according to Islamic law. Although the qadi general found that Lançol's accusations were justified, this hardly excuses such prying into Mudejar family matters. What Lançol hoped to gain is unclear; perhaps he bore a grudge against the couple for having
moved from Gilet to become royal vassals in Murviedro. It is, in any case, difficult to imagine a disinterested Christian concern with Muslim morality.
By the latter half of Fernando's reign the bailiff general was going so far as to order his subordinates to seek out and apprehend Muslim men and women who had committed adultery. Significantly, this order was contained in the same letter that demanded the arrest of all unlicensed prostitutes. Together, the two formed a cruel and relentless strategy in which the sexual exploitation of Mudejar women for the financial gain of the Christian authorities is patent: all Muslim adulteresses were to be arrested, punished, and reduced to enslaved prostitution; and all prostitutes were to be licensed, taxed, and regulated by the Crown. The case of Axa of Villamarchante, a widow and mother of three, attests graphically to this policy. While in Valencia, Axa met Çale Duraydach from the Vall de Uxó. He took her to a hostel and there they slept together. As they lay together, a royal constable burst into their room and demanded to know whether they had committed "adultery" (really fornication, since she was a widow). Axa confessed to her "crime" and so was brought before the tribunal of the bailiff general. The bailiff and the qadi[*] general sentenced her to death by stoning, which sentence, of course, resulted in her enslavement to the Crown. Of Axa we know no more, but an educated guess as to her fate could be posed. It is, in any case, clear that the basis for this systematic and humiliating exploitation of Muslim women was the law that allowed Christian men to enjoy the sexual favors of Muslim women with impunity. There stemmed from this law a growing assumption on the part of the governing classes of the kingdom that their political authority and professed religious superiority over the Mudejars gave them the moral authority to judge Muslim sexual misconduct by standards far more rigorous than those which they applied to members of their own faith. Ironically, this assumption was associated with their increasing understanding of the Mudejars themselves and of the rigidity of their sexual mores. Sadly, they could think only of exploiting that understanding for their own profit.
There also existed a body of laws that may be described as policing measures, laws facilitating the scrutiny of Mudejar activities and movements. The political and fiscal concerns of the king and the nobility led them to restrict the Mudejars' freedom of movement, because they were a dissident, but economically valuable, minority. It was thought that some Mudejars harbored political allegiance to Islamic states and perhaps wished to emigrate there. Thus, Mudejars needed royal licenses to travel to Granada or the Maghrib, or even to the southern part of the kingdom. Usually they were prohibited from emigrating to Islamic
lands. Even wandering Muslim mendicants were required to have licenses to beg from their coreligionists. Those who were caught traveling or begging for alms without these licenses were punished, and usually harshly. Most unlicensed mendicants were enslaved to the Crown and then sold to the highest bidder. The ease with which Mudejars could be enslaved for such infractions forcefully emphasized their subject status and the very real limitations on their freedom. The phenomenon of Muslim slavery itself resulted in a number of cases in which Muslims were accused of abetting runaway slaves. The Mudejars' aid to runaway slaves is striking testimony to their acute awareness of just how precarious their position was; they were prepared for the eventuality of the loss of freedom.
In addition, there was the series of laws that required of the Mudejars obeisance to a faith so inimical to their own. Although it is unlikely that Muslims were actually forced to kneel in the street as Christian processions passed by, and although Muslims and Christians frequently associated and socialized in manners deemed inappropriate by the Crown and the Church, the very existence of such laws reminded the Mudejars of Christianity's present superiority over Islam. And, indeed, Muslims were fined for such indiscretions as swearing in the name of the Christian God. Furthermore, as long as the laws were on the books, there always hung over the Mudejars' heads the possibility that these laws would all be enforced in their full rigor. This is exactly what the Inquisitors and their backers desired.
Even if some Mudejars prospered in Valencia and had no intention of leaving, the knowledge that they could not depart if they so wished, that their movements were restricted and subject to the scrutiny of royal officials, that they were, in effect, prisoners in their own land, all this must have constituted a form of psychological oppression and alienation just as painful as more blatant forms of physical abuse. The law for the Mudejars was, like so many other aspects of their existence, a double-edged sword, both protective and oppressive; it afforded them justice within the framework of a politicoreligious system which was in a number of ways essentially unjust.