The chief Muslim official under the Crown of Aragon was the qadi[*] general, or royal qadi , whose authority extended over the Mudejars of all Crown lands—the kingdoms of Valencia and Aragon, and the principality of Catalonia. The qadi general's function was primarily judicial, and he had appellate jurisdiction over all Islamic courts. While there is ample evidence of the qadi general's judicial activity within the kingdom of Valencia, there is little to suggest that he exercised his authority outside of Valencia, except perhaps in Tortosa (Catalonia).
In the fourteenth century the qadi general had also held a large number of other offices in Borja and Huesca in Aragon, and in Játiva and Valencia. Because these posts were of necessity held in absentia (the
qadi[*] general at this time resided in Zaragoza), this situation gave rise to abuses and to conflicts between the qadi general and his appointed substitutes. The problem seems to have been largely rectified by the time of Fernando's reign, during which the qadi general held only one other office in absentia, that of qadi and scribe of the aljama of Tortosa. To this office Mahomat Bellvis, the qadi general, appointed as his substitutes Mahomat Çaragoçi during the reign of Juan II, and Sabat Abaig at the outset of Fernando's reign. Bellvis demanded only that his substitutes recognize his appellate jurisdiction. Bellvis and Abaig seem to have had no jurisdictional disputes. That the qadi general also functioned as qadi of the city of Valencia is readily explained by the fact that he resided in its morería . The substantial reduction of the capital's Muslim population since 1455 rendered the duties of this position less burdensome, which, in any case, he shared with a lieutenant qadi .
The letters of appointment of the qadi general allude to the office's scribal function: "alcadi scriva general." It may be inferred that as scribe the qadi general corresponded in Arabic with the officials of various aljamas, informing them of the decisions or executive orders of the king and bailiff general. Mahomat Bellvis was also appointed as interpreter, or torçimany , for the bailiff general. His task here was to interrogate the Maghriban and Granadan captives brought into the port of Valencia, in order to determine whether they were captured legitimately under conditions of war ("justi belli"). If so, the captives could then be sold as slaves. The qadi general was the prime intermediary between the king and his Muslim subjects. He had a hand in most Mudejar affairs that concerned the Crown, such as determining the Crown's share of Muslim inheritances or arbitrating the explosive disputes between feuding Muslim families.
The qadi general was paid an annual salary of 200s, in addition to a fee for services in each case requiring his intervention. However, for the Bellvis family, which held the office of qadi general throughout Fernando's reign, such remuneration did not, as will be explained, constitute the main source of their wealth.
The qadi general was appointed by the king, and the office was a lifetime appointment. Mahomat Bellvis, who had been appointed qadi general in 1458 upon the death of his father Ali, was granted the prerogative to choose one of his sons to succeed him in office. In 1484 Mahomat on his deathbed chose his eldest son, Ali, as his successor. Ali held the post until at least 1501. The Bellvis family continued to monopolize the qadi generalship until the mass conversions in 1525. The Bellvis were indeed a dynasty of sorts, for members of this illustrious Mudejar family, or at least an Aragonese branch of it, had served the Crown in this capacity since the midfourteenth century.
In each aljama the preeminent official was the qadi[*] . Because Islamic law encompassed both religious and secular affairs, the qadi 's role as judge lent him great moral and political authority. Under his purview fell civil and criminal litigation, family matters, such as marriage, divorce, and the guardianship of orphans, and the administration of mosque properties. The qadi also had a notarial function in the drawing up of marriage contracts and wills. The qadi of Játiva was paid a salary of 60s annually. While there is no indication that the qadi s of smaller aljamas were given a salary by the Crown, it is probable that they were remunerated by the courts for their various juridical services. Perhaps more important than the material benefits derived from the office was the great esteem the qadi commanded in the Mudejar community. The continuity and vitality of Islam under the Crown of Aragon was in great measure due to the persistence of this institution.
The kings of Aragon well understood the essential role of the qadi . From the time of the conquest through the fifteenth century most of the royal provisions regulating the government of Muslim aljamas call for the creation of a qadi . However, over the course of centuries important changes had taken place. In the thirteenth century Jaime I had promised nearly every conquered Muslim city the right to elect its own qadi yet by the midfourteenth century royal officials were themselves appointing the qadi s of most royal aljamas. This gave rise to flagrant abuses: the appointment of royal favorites, ignorant of Islamic law as qadi s, and, worse still, the appointment of Christians to the office. By the late fifteenth century the most galling of these irregularities had been corrected. Under Fernando no Christian occupied the post of qadi , nor did the king bestow the office on unlettered favorites. The Bellvis were certainly well suited for the office of qadi general. Fernando took care to appoint as qadi s candidates deemed suitable by the aljama. Indeed, his appointment of Çahat Valenti as qadi of Játiva seems to have been little more than the confirmation of a unanimous choice made jointly by the aljama and the local bailiff. Although no royal aljama seems to have regained fully the right to choose its own qadi[*] , the absence of complaints on the part of aljamas regarding the inadequacy of qadi s indicates that the bailiffs made their choices only after consultation with the leading men of the aljamas.
Not every royal and seigneurial aljama had its own qadi . The small size of some Mudejar communities, such as Castellón de Játiva, made the presence of a qadi an unnecessary luxury. The residents of such communities were able to bring their cases before the qadi 's court located in a larger town in the vicinity. For instance, Muslims of Castellón de Játiva fell under the jurisdiction of the qadi of Játiva, as did the residents of seigneurial aljamas in the area, like Sumacárcel. Because
of the large amount of business the qadi[*] of Játiva had to handle, he had an assistant called the sub-qadi (or sotsalcayt ). In accordance with the decree of Alfonso III, many seigneurial aljamas must have had their own qadi s. In the documentation there are references to qadi s in Paterna, Alcocer, Gandía, Aspe, Elda, and other places.
It is arguable that in the kingdom of Valencia the faqih[*] , or jurisconsult, played a role equal in importance to that of the qadi. Faqih s seem to have been ubiquitous in the kingdom. Their function as notaries and as legal advisors, formally in the qadi 's court, or informally in the community at large, supplemented that of the more institutionalized qadi . But by virtue of their teaching in Mudejar schools and their preaching in the mosques, the influence of the faqih s was perhaps more far-reaching than that of the qadi s. They gave shape and Islamic meaning to Mudejar daily life in even the most isolated rural villages. Only rarely did the royal authorities recognize these vital functionaries. It seems that the faqih s of most royal aljamas were not royal appointees, but that individual aljamas chose them on the basis of their piety and legal knowledge. When the faqih of the aljama of Valencia died, the king followed the lead of the aljama, which took special care to choose a new faqih of sufficient erudition. Because the Crown did not pay a salary to the faqih s, the aljamas assumed the responsibility themselves and supported them with the rents from mosque properties. It is not certain that the faqih s attained the same degree of importance in Aragon and Catalonia, although they are evident in a number of Aragonese aljamas. It may be that the higher level of Arabo-Islamic culture in Valencia and the greater access of the Valencian Mudejars to the centers of Islamic learning in Tunis and Almería allowed for the greater proliferation of c ulama[*] ' (learned men) in the southern kingdom.
Because the amin[*] is referred to in the documentation far more than any other aljama official, one is left with the impression that he was the paramount official in the aljama. From the perspective of the royal and seigneurial bureaucrats, this was certainly the case. Whereas the qadi and faqih were most responsible for the moral and spiritual well-being of the aljama, the amin acted as the principal intermediary between the aljama and the fiscal machinery of the Crown and nobility. The letters of appointment for the amin s of royal aljamas describe their duties as "holding, collecting, maintaining, and defending the rights and regalian taxes of the lord king, just as the other amin s of the said morería were accustomed to do in times past." The amin was the aljama's financial officer and was responsible for the collection of royal and seigneurial taxes from the residents of the morería . He kept the accounts of the aljama, apparently in Arabic, and turned over the account books to the royal or seigneurial bailiff at the end of each fiscal year. When new
Muslim vassals of the Crown wished to settle accounts with their former lords, the bailiff general often wrote to the local amin[*] , asking him to cooperate in the matter. The extant Arabic correspondence of various fifteenth-century amin s shows that it was the amin whom the royal bailiffs notified when they wished to collect outstanding debts or taxes from the Muslims of a particular aljama. Also, the amin usually represented his aljama in any litigation concerning its finances.
Because the amin s were responsible for transferring the revenues exacted from the aljamas to royal or seigneurial coffers, they were usually appointed by the royal bailiffs, although some aljamas had the privilege of choosing their amin . Some, amin s held their office for life, while others served for a term of a few years. Most seem to have received a salary from the receipts of their office.
Although his role as tax collector might have earned for the amin the resentment of other members of the aljama, his close relations with the royal bailiff or with his lord, and his executive power in fiscal affairs and in cases of debt gave him considerable influence in the community. The nobility, even more so than the Crown, placed considerable trust in the amin s, whose authority was consequently greater on seigneurial lands than in royal morerías . On seigneurial lands many amin s seem to have acquired a police function and were responsible for maintaining order. For instance, when a Muslim of Cárcer wounded a vassal of Alberique, it was the amin of Alberique who chased after and captured the assailant. Most amin s responded fittingly to the trust of their lords and viewed the interests of the aljama and its lord as their own. The amin s were usually in the forefront of the resistance to royal officials sent to confiscate the property of indebted lords and aljamas. When a royal porter was sent to collect the crops and revenues of Castellnou in order to liquidate the 140-pound pension owed by its lord, the amin hid the crops in the local castle and refused to permit the porter to enter. However, some amin s proved to be unreliable and unworthy of their lord's confidence. Ali Sardi illicitly abandoned the lordship of Bétera and took the account books with him. Also, the señora of Gaibiel blamed the amin and adelantats for heading the "conspiracy" which resulted in the departure of all her Muslim vassals. Given the influence and the authority placed in the hands of the amin s, it is not surprising that it was an office which many Mudejars sought to hold.
Closely associated with the amin were the adelantats , or jurates, whose role, since the thirteenth century, had come increasingly to resemble that of the Christian jurates of the universitas . When creating the new aljama of Castellón de Játiva, Fernando decreed that it should have jurates, whom he described as "rectors and administrators." Most aljamas had two adelantats , although a large aljama like Játiva might have
as many as four. The adelantats were elected annually by the aljama. According to the electoral system that seems to have prevailed in most royal aljamas, the adelantats for the coming year were chosen by the aljama's councillors (see below) and the current adelantats . In some Aragonese aljamas the system was different and corresponded to the local Christian method of insaculación , in which aljama officials were chosen from among those candidates whose names had been placed in a sack (sometimes by the Crown or local authorities). In Valencia Christian officials seldom interfered in the aljamas' elections, although Fernando was once compelled to intervene when the bailiff of Játiva attempted to appoint adelantats more obedient to his wishes.
Because the adelantats were elected, they were more representative of the community's interests than the appointed amin[*] . The adelantats probably worked with the amin to apportion taxes among the aljama's members in a judicious manner. Of course, the adelantats ' powers as popular representatives were limited, for ultimately they had no choice but to acquiesce in royal and seigneurial wishes. As pointed out above, the aljama could make few decisions of any import, so that the adelantats lacked the legislative power of Christian jurates. Nevertheless, as administrators and representatives of the aljama, the adelantats were active in representing their aljama in litigation, in voicing complaints to the Crown, in leasing the utilities of the morería , and in sharing with the amin leadership in matters of community defense (on seigneurial lands). Documents describing the actions of Mudejar communities often note the participation of the amin and adelantats , sometimes joined by qadi[*] or faqih[*] . Even though the adelantats did not receive any remuneration for their services, the office seems to have carried with it a certain amount of prestige, which made its possession desirable in the eyes of some Mudejars. Unlike the fourteenth century, when elected adelantats had to be threatened with heavy fines lest they avoid the duties of their office, the Mudejars of fifteenth-century Valencia seem to have been willing enough to serve. It was only in Aragon that a Muslim pleaded that he not be forced to hold the office if elected. Perhaps the disastrous financial situation of most Aragonese aljamas caused the Muslims to view any office associated with tax collection as particularly distasteful.
Some aljamas had a larger council, which was elected by the aljama and was likely composed of the heads of leading families. The councillors (the aljama of Valencia had ten) jointly made all major decisions affecting the aljama. The adelantats chosen by them were, therefore, representatives of the council and executors of the council's wishes. When the aljama of Játiva struggled with the local bailiff over the annual
servicio that the latter claimed the aljama was obliged to grant to him, the aljama claimed that the servicio had been given to the bailiff gratuitously by "some jurates of the morería ," but that it "was not solemnly decided upon in the council of the aljama." The aljama "in council" had, in fact, resolved that the bailiff should receive nothing at all. The consensus of the councillors appears to have been weightier than the opinion of any one official in the determination of aljama policy.
Beyond the core of qadi[*] , faqih[*] , amin[*] , adelantats , and council, there were some auxiliary officials mentioned only rarely in the documentation. Some aljamas, such as Játiva, Orihuela, Monforte, and Alcoy, had a çalmedina (sahib[*]al-madinah[*] ). This official seems to have had an executive function, assisting in the execution of the commands of the aljama's council and its qadi . He also had a hand in maintaining order in the morería through the appointment of police to apprehend malefactors and through control of the morería 's jail. In Játiva he was custodian of the keys to the morería and the supervisor of its market. The aljamas of Játiva and Valencia also had a clavari , or treasurer. To these officials may be added others, such as scribes, messengers, porters, and ritual slaughterers.