Tradition and Authority
As successor to the Crown of Aragon Fernando II inherited a longstanding tradition of Mudejarism, the royal sanctioning and protection of subject Muslim populations within Christian realms. The Mudejar pattern had been established in a series of surrender treaties reached between the Aragonese kings and the conquered Muslims of Aragon-Catalonia in the twelfth century (Zaragoza in 1118, Tudela in 1119, Tortosa and Lérida in 1148, Teruel in 1170, and so on), and, in the 1230s, was applied on a considerably larger scale in the new kingdom of Valencia by Jaime I. The treaties guaranteed to the Muslims their religious, judicial, and communal autonomy. In other words, the Mudejars could practice Islam, maintain their mosques with their adjoining properties (waqf endowments), rule on litigations between Muslims in Islamic courts according to Islamic law, and select their own officials for the governance and administration of their communities, or aljamas. The Muslims' sustenance was ensured by the terms allowing them to retain their homes, lands, and movable goods. By and large, the Crown con-
sistently adhered to the capitulations, each king shrewdly balancing religious scruples with fiscal necessity. Mudejarism survived, not out of deference to an ideal of tolerance, but because the Muslims were valuable to the Crown as a source of taxation and as the agricultural and industrial substrata of local economies. This was especially the case in the kingdom of Valencia, where the Muslims always represented a substantial portion of the population, the majority, in fact, until the late fourteenth century.
By the late fifteenth century the lands of the Crown of Aragon had experienced significant demographic change, so that in Aragon, Catalonia, and even Valencia the Christians formed a clear majority. Owing to recurrent plague, the wars between Aragon and Castile, Christian settlement, and Mudejar emigration, the Muslim proportion of the population had steadily diminished. During Fernando's reign the Muslims of Valencia constituted roughly 30 percent of the population, while in Aragon proper and Catalonia they formed only 20 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Nevertheless, in Valencia, and to a lesser extent in Aragon, the Mudejars continued to play a vital economic role, and were viewed by both the king and the nobility as an important source of revenue. The royal-seigneurial competition to attract Muslim vassals to their respective lands, to be discussed at length in this chapter, bears out this assertion.
The large majority of Mudejars resided on seigneurial lands. There, local lords collected taxes and feudal dues from their Muslim vassals and exercised varying degrees of judicial authority over them. The Crown retained direct lordship over only a small number of urban aljamas. In Catalonia the royal aljamas were Tortosa and Lérida, and in Aragon they were Zaragoza, Huesca, Teruel, Daroca, Calatayud, Borja, Belchite, Albarracín, and Tarazona. In the kingdom of Valencia royal aljamas were located in Valencia, Játiva, Alcira, Murviedro, Castellón de la Plana, Villarreal, Alcoy, Jérica, Monforte, Onda, Liria, and Castellón de Játiva. Despite this distinction between royal and seigneurial Muslims—an important one, since it determined to whom the Mudejars paid their taxes—the Crown still possessed ultimate jurisdiction over all the Muslims in its realms. It was the Crown, in both Aragon and Castile, that decided the fate of its Muslims and Jews, variously converting them, expelling them, or defending their dissident status. As his predecessors had done, Fernando referred to the Mudejars as "our coffers," "our patrimony," or "servants of our chamber." Under Fernando, royal supremacy in Mudejar affairs was more than a theoretical claim; it was a royal prerogative invoked and exercised.
With respect to his own Crown of Aragon, Fernando was an absentee ruler, spending less than three years in Aragon proper, just over three
years in Catalonia, and only six months in the kingdom of Valencia. However, this did not prevent him from attending to the business of his kingdoms through a team of Catalan and Aragonese secretaries; in fact, he successfully strengthened royal authority at the expense of local powers. Fernando overcame strong local opposition in all of his kingdoms to institute a Crown-controlled Inquisition. He effectively imposed royal control over the principal cities of his realms, Zaragoza in Aragon, and Barcelona in Catalonia. In the city of Valencia the king exerted influence over the municipal government by appointing local magistrates, and he was able to exact substantial loans for royal enterprises, although with ruinous effect on the city's economy, as Ernest Belenguer Cebrià has shown. Still, ruling from a distance posed difficulties, causing delays in the royal response to local problems and necessitating a perhaps excessive reliance on the alacrity and diligence of local officials.
In the kingdom of Valencia royal authority over the Mudejars was delegated to a handful of officials. The lieutenant general (llochtinent general ), or viceroy, acted as the king's alter-ego and was invested with full royal power. While it may be assumed that the viceroys usually acted in the best interests of the Crown, at times their measures displayed an imprudence stemming from unfamiliarity with the local situation.
Most important in Mudejar affairs was the bailiff general. Because he was the superintendent of the royal patrimony, of which the Mudejars formed a part, he exercised supreme authority over the kingdom's Muslims. All Muslims wishing to bear arms, beg for alms, travel within the kingdom or to Islamic lands, emigrate, borrow money, or practice prostitution were required to possess a license from the bailiff general. Any Muslims caught without such a license were summarily prosecuted. The bailiff general saw to it that Muslims paid their taxes and debts, or, conversely, pardoned them for debts and crimes. He supervised the sale of all Muslim slaves and captives, as well as their manumission. His court had criminal and often civil jurisdiction over all Muslims residing in royal morerías (Muslim quarters) and on the lands of the Church. In sum, the bailiff general was the executor of royal Mudejar policy, and, for the most part, his actions may be considered an accurate reflection of royal wishes. The holders of the bailiwick during Fernando's reign, Honorat Mercader (until 1485) and Diego de Torres (from 1485), seem to have fulfilled their duties conscientiously. Fernando sometimes relied on their expertise in Mudejar affairs when he formulated policy.
Each royal city and town had a local bailiff to whom the bailiff general's powers were delegated. At the level of daily life, royal Mudejars dealt most frequently with this official. The bailiff functioned as the Muslims' judge and protector against the abuses of municipal govern-
ments, although at times Muslims suffered from the bailiff's own unscrupulous behavior. Thus, it was of utmost importance that the Mudejars were able to turn to the bailiff general as a court of final appeal.
The governor played a more limited role in Mudejar affairs. He was competent to hear cases involving seigneurial Muslims, although the lords themselves often administered justice to their vassals. A frequent problem during Fernando's reign was the governor's attempts to overstep the boundaries of his jurisdiction over Mudejars, which brought him into conflict with the bailiff general. Although the governor at times acted as the royal deputy regarding Mudejars, and his court had jurisdiction in specific Mudejar litigations, the general supervision of all the kingdom's Muslims was always the bailiff general's special prerogative.
While Fernando's absenteeism compelled him to entrust considerable power to these officials, it does not follow that he restricted his concerns to only the broad contours of Mudejar policy. The king managed to find time to attend to the particular grievances of his Muslim subjects as they arose, and this was the case regarding seigneurial as well as royal vassals. Fernando's ability to intervene in seigneurial affairs is indicative of the strength of royal authority and of its ultimate jurisdiction in matters involving the religious minorities.
Individual seigneurial Muslims and entire aljamas, when wronged by the nobility, would turn to the king for succor. Muslims who moved from Chova to Eslida complained that the lord of Chova had violated the governor's orders by seizing the fruits from their lands and other possessions they still had in Chova. Fernando commanded the governor to see to it that the Muslims' property was restored. The lord of Malejám, in Aragon, received a royal order that he release the goods of his Muslim vassals, who claimed that their lord had occupied their properties under the pretense of Malejám's entry into the Hermandad (Brotherhood) of Borja. The Christian councils and the aljamas of Alcocer, Alberique, and Alasquer brought to the king's attention the fact that their lord had altered the customary apportionment of irrigation water to their lands.
Fernando's efforts to control the feuding of rival nobles tended to benefit their Muslim vassals, who were often the victims of the nobles' reciprocal depredations. When the Rocamoras murdered two Muslim vassals of the Rocasfulls, Fernando tried to prevent further escalation of the conflict by prohibiting the Rocasfulls from taking revenge on the assailants. Instead, the governor of Orihuela was to apprehend and punish them. In the dispute between the lords of Carlet and Alcudia and their respective Muslim and Christian vassals, from which "wounds, deaths, scandals, and evils" had already resulted, two royal officials
were sent to Carlet to punish the malefactors. It is difficult to determine whether royal vigilance successfully curbed seigneurial feuding, or if it was always the case of the king demanding reparations for the broken bodies and destroyed property of the victims. Even if the latter were true, royal action still might work in favor of victimized Mudejars, as when Fernando commanded the governor of Aragon to see to the release of two Muslim prisoners whom the men of Argavieso had captured when they looted Novales.
In general, Fernando's Mudejar policy can be described as a continuation of that of his predecessors. He envisaged no significant departures from the established precedent, and he readily confirmed the privileges granted to the various aljamas by previous kings. At the request of the aljama of Játiva, Fernando required his officials to observe the provisions of Alfonso V and Juan II, placing the morería under royal protection. He confirmed the privileges and immunities his father had conceded to the aljama of Valencia as an aid to its recovery after the debacle of 1455, and likewise ratified Juan II's creation of a morería in Alcoy, and Juan's upholding of the rights of Daroca's Muslims to rent their butcher shop to a Christian and to graze their animals in surrounding pastures.
In his governance of individual communities Fernando was guided by established usage, and he discouraged any innovations that local governments might wish to make. When the Christian council of Terrer planned to modify their arrangement with the local Muslims on the use and guarding of village common land without consulting the aljama, the king enjoined, "you should neither do nor innovate anything with respect to the abovesaid in derogation of their [the Muslims'] privileges, uses, and ancient customs observed between you and them; rather, you should maintain them."
Fernando even found himself having to revoke his own enactments when he realized that they contravened those of his predecessors. He usually left the final ruling on such matters to the expertise of royal officials and lawyers versed in the local law. In the first year of his reign Fernando had provided that the mustaçaff of Játiva could inspect the weights and measures in the market of the local morería , a duty that normally pertained to its own mustaçaff (or çalmedina ). When the aljama pointed out that this violated earlier privileges, and that a final decision on the question had been pending since 1428, the king ordered a return to the status quo prevailing before his provision. He unwittingly raised other difficulties when he permitted the lord and Christians of Mislata to build their own oven, for Alfonso V had conceded to the Muslims of Mislata and their lord (the Muslims and the Christians had different lords) the exclusive privilege of possessing the town's oven.
Two years later, a compromise was reached through the offices of the governor and Valencian lawyers, allowing the Christians their oven, but forbidding Muslim access to it.
A young king, particularly an absentee one, would have found the mastery of such intricacies of local custom one of the more difficult, and tiresome, aspects of royal administration. Although Fernando sometimes stumbled through a process of trial and error, his intention to tread on the path laid out by his forbears emerges clearly enough.