Augmenting the "Royal Treasure"
Fernando's exertion of monarchical power, his attention to detail, his accessibility to his aggrieved subjects of all faiths, and his deference to tradition all tell us more about Fernando as a leader and his style of rulership than about the specifics of his Mudejar policy. Given the importance of the issue of the religious minorities, for both Fernando's contemporaries and modern historians, it would be of significance to state simply that with respect to the Mudejars Fernando fully intended to maintain the status quo. This, however, was not quite the case, for from the outset the Catholic Monarch embarked on a program to augment substantially the populations of the royal morerías in the kingdom of Valencia. Implicit in the pursuit of such a program was Fernando's assumption that his Muslim subjects were a more or less permanent fixture on the Valencian and, by extension, Arago-Catalan scene.
Yet one must not attribute to Fernando any special enlightenment, nor should one presume that he had a moral stake in religious pluralism per se. Concretely, it boiled down to a matter of hard-nosed fiscal politics. By increasing the number of royal Muslim vassals Fernando was widening his own tax base. The Crown's financial needs were considerable, owing to Aragon's Italian entanglements and Castile's wars in Granada and Africa. Fernando's endeavor to augment his Mudejar treasure corresponds well with his exaction of numerous loans from the city of Valencia.
The royal program had three facets: (1) drawing Muslims away from seigneurial lands to royal morerías ; (2) creating new morerías or instilling life into declining ones; and (3) settling Muslims from the conquered sultanate of Granada on Crown lands. All of these had precedents in the Mudejar policies of previous kings. Because of the lack of detailed studies of this question for other reigns, it is difficult to say whether Fernando was any more avid or successful in his quest for taxable Mudejars.
Fernando was able to pursue the first course of action, inducing
seigneurial Muslims to occupy royal morerías , because Mudejars could legally change their vassalage, moving from baron to king, from king to baron, or from one baron to another. However, on some seigneuries five or ten years of personal residence were required before the bonds of vassalage could be dissolved. In any case, the Mudejar was always someone's vassal. Unlike the Christian citizen and the urban corporation of the universitas , the Mudejar and his corporate aljama had no independent political status. The precondition to the Mudejar's dissolving the bonds of fealty to his lord was the settling of all accounts with the lord; that is, the Mudejar had to pay all feudal dues and whatever other debts he owed. Once this was done, the Mudejar could swear homage to his new lord, or king, promising to abide by the terms of the feudal relationship as stipulated by the lord. These terms were primarily of a fiscal nature. By the late fifteenth century Mudejar vassalage in Valencia was largely devoid of obligations of military service.
Normally, the Muslim informed the bailiff general or the local bailiff of his desire to become a royal vassal. The bailiff would then see to it that the process of changing vassalage was expedited as smoothly as possible, mainly by instructing seigneurial officials to settle accounts justly with the departing vassal. For example, when Abdolaziz Abedua, a vassal in Tabernes de Valldigna, decided to move to the royal morería of Valencia, he informed the aljama officials there of his wish, and they then "presented" Abdolaziz to the bailiff general. The bailiff, treating the Muslim's change of vassalage almost as a fait accompli, wrote to the seigneurial officials of Valldigna "that [Abdolaziz] has been registered as vassal in the said morería [of Valencia] and is ready and prepared to settle accounts with you ... And after he has settled accounts and has paid what he owes ... he wishes to come and stay and live in this morería just as the other vassals of the said lord king." The bailiff was careful to remind these officials that Abdolaziz was now under royal safeguard and that he should be permitted not just to sell his property in Tabernes and liquidate his debts from the proceeds but also to collect any debts owed to him. For the bailiff the crucial point was that Abdolaziz, as a royal vassal, would be paying taxes to the Crown; hence, any failure to cooperate by Valldigna's officials would be tantamount to an assault on the royal patrimony. The bailiff concluded his letter with a warning: "if you should thus refuse to act, taking into account that the said Moor is being made a vassal of the said lord king, it will be necessary for us, for the preservation of the taxes of the said lord king ... to provide on the matter as we determine ought to be done."
Historians have assumed that the conditions of life in royal morerías were intrinsically better than those obtaining on seigneurial lands. Yet it is not at all clear that this was the case, for, were it so, one would have
expected the streets of royal morerías to have been inundated with new vassals. While a tendency for Mudejar movement from seigneurial to royal lands is discernible, it nowhere approached the proportions of a deluge. In terms of the Muslims' ability to make public manifestations of Islamic worship and to buttress their Islamic cultural integrity effectively, many probably preferred seigneurial morerías to royal towns. In the royal towns, even if the tax burden were lighter, Christian officialdom and clergymen tended to be touchier about ritual displays of Islam, and the Muslims' communal life suffered more from Christian interference or mere presence. The quality of Mudejar life on seigneurial lands varied from lordship to lordship, so that general comparisons between royal and seigneurial morerías are tenuous.
Because there were not large numbers of Mudejars clamoring for entry into royal towns, the Crown had to offer inducements to make vassalage to the king more appealing. In order to repopulate Alcira, Juan II had offered a royal safeguard against prosecution for crimes and debts to all Muslims, Christians, and Jews who would come to reside there. Fernando followed his father's example, and, in order to fill the vacant Jewish quarter of Borja after the expulsion, freed new Muslim occupants from the tax of the morabatí for one year. He granted to any Muslim who became a royal vassal in Játiva a ten-year exemption from the payment of the besant , or annual hearth tax paid by all Muslims. However, if the Muslim moved from Játiva before the expiration of the ten years, he then had to pay the besants for the years he had dwelled there. Whereas in Aragon Fernando could legally threaten with penalty of death his Muslim vassals who were swearing homage to barons, in Valencia his means of coercing Muslims to remain in royal morerías were limited to pecuniary penalties applicable during only the initial few years of their residence. Therefore, the king had to ensure that the circumstances of life in his morerías continued to be favorable. Herein lay the importance of the royal confirmation and protection of the privileges the Crown had previously conceded to royal aljamas. At the very least, Fernando had to prevent any encroachment on these privileges, for any marked deterioration in the Mudejars' situation could have as a consequence their abandonment of the royal morerías . Indeed, flight en masse was the Muslims' usual response to impossible tax burdens or to consistent harassment by local officials, and, of course, barons were more than willing to receive them on their lands.
A letter from the bailiff general to Fernando (1 March 1483) advising the king what measures he ought to take in the administration of his aljamas gives some sense of how delicately the king had to handle his Mudejar vassals. The aliama of Játiva had shown to the bailiff an order of Fernando (3 December 1482) establishing one royal mill that all local
Muslims would have to use. The king was hoping to earn 100 pounds annually from the rent of this utility. The bailiff delicately suggested that the king perhaps ought to reconsider, for when the construction of the royal mill recently commenced, so did the depopulation of the morería . The problem was that Fernando's measure contravened a privilege granted by Pedro III in 1283, which allowed the Muslims of Játiva to use whichever mill they pleased. Fernando's new mill would only serve to destroy and not to augment the royal patrimony. Besides, it would also be detrimental to the Minorite monastery that exercised lordship over the majority of Játiva's mills. In this same letter the bailiff reminded the king that the population of the morería of Alcira had increased from 25 to more than 100 households. Unfortunately, the municipal officials of Alcira were detracting from this achievement by forcing the Muslims to contribute to the peyta , in violation of the aljama's privileges. The bailiff recommended that Fernando put a stop to this activity, again in the interest of the royal patrimony. The bailiff added one final word of advice: "Because the counts, barons, and others who have vassals favor their vassals ... much more ought to be favored the Moorish vassals of your Royal lordship." In this competition between Crown and nobility for Muslim vassals the bailiff general recognized the necessity for prompt attention to Muslim grievances.
However eager the Crown might have been to acquire new Mudejar vassals, it still would not, and indeed, owing to seigneurial opposition, could not countenance the vassalage of Muslims still indebted to their former lords. Thus, when it was discovered that Azmet Ballester, a royal vassal in Alcira, owed his former lord, Pere Bosch, 30 pounds, the bailiff general ruled that Azmet and his wife Johar should be relinquished to Bosch if they could not pay. Muslims in the position of Azmet were considered to have committed the crime of "flight," for which the Furs demanded punishment.
Because the system allowed Muslims to state their intention of becoming royal vassals before actually settling accounts, some, burdened by heavy debts to their lords, took advantage of that system and simply abandoned seigneurial lands, with the hope that by enlisting the support of royal officials unaware of their financial status they could evade their noble creditors. Ali Gombau, a vassal of and tax farmer for Don Joan de Vallterra in Areñol, escaped from Areñol without having squared accounts with Vallterra and became a royal vassal in Castellón de la Plana, successfully evading prosecution for almost one year. Such abuses elicited loud complaints from the nobility in the Valencian Corts of 1488, resulting in legislation prohibiting the abandonment of seigneurial lands by Muslim debtors. Nevertheless, the problem recurred. In 1492 the lords of Sellent, Cuart, and Turís protested that their Muslim
vassals had departed insolvent, and that the local bailiffs had the temerity to demand that they come to town to settle accounts with their own fugitive vassals.
At times Mudejars proved to be quite cunning, and criminally so, in their exploitation of the right to change vassalage. Juçef Çabot hoped literally to get away with murder by leaving Valldigna and becoming a royal vassal in Játiva. He returned to the valley, stabbed to death a Muslim enemy there, and then, as a royal vassal, sought the protection of the bailiff general. With less sanguinary thoughts, Muslims of the barony of Torres Torres became royal vassals in Murviedro but continued to reside on the barony. Not only was the baron unable to collect feudal dues from them, but also, when the Muslims committed crimes or created disturbances on the barony, they were protected by the jurates (councillors) of Murviedro and took refuge in the court of the governor. Worse still, other vassals of the baron, realizing that while in this state of legal limbo they could disobey the baron with impunity, were swearing fealty to the king in Murviedro.
It may be that local Crown officials and townsmen, motivated by economic interest and hostility toward the nobility, connived at bringing seigneurial Muslims to their lands and towns. Fernando had to rail at and threaten with deprivation of office unscrupulous royal officials who "with the favor and authority of [their] offices" were transferring Muslims from royal morerías to their own lands. He declared that royal Mudejars could not be received into other lordships until they had spent at least four years on royal lands. This final stipulation suggests that the officials were directing their persuasive efforts at new royal vassals. Ultimately, seigneurial lands, the source of the new vassals, received the most damage.
Still, a much greater problem was seigneurial resistance to the Mudejars' legal change of vassalage. The departure of vassals was, of course, detrimental to the lord's finances, and this was especially the case in fifteenth-century Valencia, where a scarcity of labor, due to the toll taken by recurrent plagues, rendered each vassal a still more valuable asset. Two additional considerations explain why the lords felt these losses so keenly. First, those Muslims who could afford to take up residence in royal morerías , that is, those who possessed the wherewithal to pay all their dues and debts, were men of means, at least in comparison to those Muslims rendered immobile by insolvency. The lords, therefore, were being deprived of some of their most reliable and, one might presume, enterprising rent-payers. Second, when a Muslim transferred his fealty and residence from a barony to a royal town he did not thereby relinquish rights to the lands he rented in the barony. In Valencia there
was a crucial distinction between the status of tenant and that of vassal. This meant that the new royal vassal, living and working in town, could continue to cultivate and reap the fruits from the lands he still rented on the estate of his former lord. He was obliged to pay to his former lord only the rent required of a tenant. He was now freed from the feudal dues incumbent on a vassal; these he now paid to the Crown. Consequently, the erstwhile lord was faced with the long-term occupation of his lands by absentee tenants who paid rent but not the more lucrative seigneurial dues. He was thus unable to exploit his lands to their maximum potential.
Taking into account these factors, it is not difficult to comprehend why the lords were so intent on preventing their vassals from altering their status. Seigneurial opposition on this score was not a problem peculiar to Fernando's reign; lords had been placing obstacles in the way of Mudejar transference to royal morerías throughout the fifteenth century. Fernando's efforts to remove such obstacles scarcely differed from those of Alfonso V and Juan II. Regarding the protection of new Muslim vassals in Castellón de la Plana and Alcoy, he simply reissued their commands. Although it seems that the Crown was usually able to overcome seigneurial resistance, the lords, through a variety of tactics, often made the Mudejars' change of vassalage a long and litigious process. The officials of the lord of Valldigna, the Cardinal of Valencia, tried to nip the entire matter in the bud by proclaiming that any Muslim who was a vassal in the valley and then became a vassal of another lord, including the king, had to revert to his original status within eight days or lose all of his property in the valley. The bailiff promptly disabused these officials of the idea that they could enforce such a decree.
Because the settling of accounts was the precondition to the Muslim's final release from vassalage to his lord, the first tack taken by the latter was to avoid the vassal trying to discharge his debts. Don Franger Ladro, seigneur of Turís, gave to Yuçeff Jacob b. Çahat the lame excuse that he did not have his account book with him. The Crown countered by notifying Don Franger that the 40s Yuçeff owed were being deposited with the bailiff general's office and that he could collect it only after he released Yuçeff's goats, wheat, and beehives to a Crown official. At times evasion hardened and took crueler forms. When Abdalla Lopo went to Cuart to settle accounts with the Countess d'Aversa, he was imprisoned and physically abused.
The lords' second line of resistance, once all accounts had been squared, was to hinder the new royal vassals from tilling and harvesting the lands they were still renting in the lordships. Some argued, perhaps justifiably so, that, according to the privileges attached to their lordship,
tenants had to reside there personally. It would follow that the Muslim resident in a royal morería thereby forfeited all rights to his lands. Other lords dispensed with the legal niceties. The officials of Mislata tried to force a Muslim widow to pay feudal dues on the house and property she possessed there, knowing full well that she was a royal vassal in Valencia. Çahat Atzuar returned to Mascarell to cultivate his lands, only to discover that other vassals had since occupied them. Açen b. Maymo Jaffiol had worse luck. Instead of being allowed to attend to his properties, he was imprisoned and had 60 pounds extorted from him by the lord of the Vall d'Artana. In all three cases the bailiff general invoked the rights of the Muslims as royal vassals and demanded that the lords in question permit them to dispose of their properties as they wished.
The effects of such seigneurial aggression ramified beyond the lives of individual lords and Muslims and aggravated the tensions between the citizenry of royal towns and the neighboring nobility. Some towns welcomed the arrival of new Mudejar inhabitants, hoping that their enterprise would benefit the local economy. The citizens resented and resisted the unscrupulous measures taken by the lords against their former vassals. In effect, the general royal-seigneurial competition for Muslim vassals manifested itself at the local level in a tug-of-war between the nobility and the urban folk. The issue of Mudejar vassalage, only one of several that would lead to the antiseigneurial violence of the Germanías (1519–1522), by itself had the potential to cause considerable disorder. When the lord of Bechí imprisoned the wives and confiscated the goods of Muslims residing in Castellón de la Plana in an attempt to convince the anxious husbands to return to Bechí, the jurates of Castellón beseeched the bailiff general to intervene, and added that if he did not, the people of Castellón would themselves march on Bechí. They further pointed out that Murviedro and other royal towns, as well as Castellón, were already accustomed to taking into their own hands the correction of barons and knights.
Fernando was fully aware of the blackmail of his Muslim vassals by lords struggling to maintain the financial equilibrium of their estates, and he seems to have understood its wider implications in the trajectory of the conflict between town and landed nobility. It probably was not a mere coincidence that during precisely the same month when the above tensions arose between Castellón and the lord of Bechí, Fernando commanded all officials, royal and seigneurial as well, to observe the provisions of Alfonso V and Juan II meant to curb the barons' misdeeds in the area. He also issued a directive to all royal bailiffs in the kingdom regarding the appropriate response to the problem of seigneurial resistance:
we understand that by some barons and others in the kingdom of Valencia who have Sarracen vassals there is attempted this oppression and iniquity, namely, that after someone who was previously their vassal departs from the said barons and knights and comes to live and, at the same time, becomes a vassal in the said morería of Játiva or another royal [morería ], they [the barons] seizing them or their lands, do not allow such vassals, presently ours, to return to their lands and possessions nor to cultivate their lands and to procure and receive the fruit.
Fernando continued, emphasizing that such actions could "result in the prejudice and damage of our morerías and of the royal curia," and he concluded by ordering the bailiffs to see to it that the seigneurs, on pain (penalty) of 1,000 gold florins, allow their erstwhile vassals to attend to the lands that they were still renting from them. Later, the king made a point of expressing to the representatives of the military estate his displeasure at their treatment of Muslims wishing to become royal vassals.
The pattern of landholding prevalent in Valencia, where the farmer rented small parcels in a number of localities, both royal and seigneurial, was a source of uncertainty as to whom any particular tenant was bound as a vassal. Also, because vassals, by virtue of their dispersed landholdings, might have economic interests in other communities, their respective lords frequently conflicted while pursuing their vassals', and therefore their own, interests. Fernando asserted monarchical power on behalf of Muslims of Játiva when he learned that seigneurial vassals, both Muslim and Christian, were indebted to them. The bailiff was instructed to demand payment from the lords of the debtors in question, and, that failing, to confiscate enough of the debtors' property to satisfy the creditors. Another document demonstrates that Fernando was less concerned with the welfare of his Muslim vassals per se than with filling his own purse. In response to the lords who were collecting feudal dues from royal Mudejars renting lands on their estates, the king, rather than simply putting a stop to this activity, decided to exact royal taxes from seigneurial Muslims farming Crown lands. The seemingly twisted logic Fernando employed in explanation of his decision—"so that our Sarracen vassals do not enjoy less prerogatives or rights than vassals of whatever persons, nay rather let them be treated equally"—is actually quite transparent. The king and the seigneurs remained on an equal footing, while the vassals of both were fleeced.
Throughout the fifteenth century the kingdom of Valencia as a whole, the city of Valencia being a notable exception, suffered from chronic underpopulation. In the latter half of the century the population steadily diminished, a consequence of recurring epidemics of plague.
As suggested above, this factor enhanced the rivalry between Crown and nobility for the labor of Mudejar vassals. One Crown response to underpopulation, which added to this royal-seigneurial rivalry, was the attempt to reconstruct and repopulate towns particularly devastated by pestilence. The Mudejars, renowned for their skill and energy as farmers and artisans, were integral to some of these reconstruction plans. In 1468 Juan II endeavored to resuscitate the town of Alcoy, the population of which had been halved from 600 to less than 300 households. At the request of its Christian council, Juan provided for the construction of a morería with 100 houses and a mosque. The council hoped that Mudejars would occupy and rebuild the homes in disrepair, and buy land in the area, thereby increasing property values. The king was, as always, attracted by the prospect of an increment in his revenue.
Fernando's establishment of a Muslim aljama in Castellón de Játiva was motivated by much the same interests, although this time it was not done at the request of the town's Christian populace, who, nevertheless, in no way objected to the royal project. In the document detailing the creation of the aljama the king's fiscal concerns emerge quite clearly: "Just as other men strive to promote whatever is useful for them and to drive away misfortunes, so it is fitting that kings and princes occasionally seek ways of preserving and augmenting their patrimony and employ a method by which the increase of benefits is directed more easily to it." He pointed out that since "mortalities and other adversities" had reduced Castellón's population from four hundred to only ninety households, a new aljama would be just the thing to revitalize the town while replenishing the "revenues and profits for our patrimony." Fernando was careful to attend to the necessities of the nascent Muslim community: the setting aside for it of a special part of town called "Lo Pedro," the constitution of its corporate aljama, the annual election of an amin[*] and adelantats , the establishment of a special Muslim butcher shop, and, of course, the taxes the inhabitants would have to pay to the Crown. In sum, the new aljama was to enjoy the same privileges and immunities as the aljama of Játiva. The king also appointed a bailiff for the morería , Pere Caldes, who, like other bailiffs, would administer civil and criminal justice in cases involving the morería 's residents (although not in civil suits between Muslims) and see to the collection of taxes.
Fernando shrewdly stipulated that all new Muslim residents must pay a fee of 50s for right of entry or vassalage, and that they could not transfer to Castellón from other royal morerías without royal license. The newcomers, then, would not be destitute, and the populations of the other royal morerías would be maintained. The losers in this scheme would be the nobles of the region of Játiva.
As we might expect by now, the new aljama had its growing pains.
First, it was revealed that Christians owning homes in the part of town designated for the morería were taking advantage of the royal project and asking exorbitant prices for them. Concerned that potential Muslim buyers might be scared off, Fernando instructed royal and local officials to determine suitable sale prices. The seigneurs in the area proved to be as troublesome as ever. Muslim residents of Castellón were prevented from picking the leaves from their mulberry trees in Alcocer; instead, the leaves, essential for the raising of silkworms, were taken by Muslim vassals of the lordship. The knight Perot de Castellvi accused Ali Mançor of having abandoned his lordship, Benimuslem, for Castellón without settling accounts. After the bailiff general ruled on the suit in Ali's favor, Castellvi turned Ali's family problems to his own advantage. Apparently Ali's wife had been reluctant to move from Benimuslem and had demanded that her husband hand over her bridewealth. Ignoring the bailiff, who had jurisdiction in a case involving a royal vassal, Castellvi turned to the governor, who then had 100 head of Ali's sheep confiscated on behalf of Castellvi and Ali's wife.
Establishing a new aljama was a risky business. There was the distinct possibility that it would sink into the existing welter of competing interests and jurisdictions. The following case, in which Castellón's bailiff, Pere Caldes, found himself in jail, is suggestive of this danger. Problems began when Mahomat Bonafort appeared before Caldes requesting to be made a vassal in Castellón. Caldes could permit this only after he, acting on Mahomat's behalf, and the lieutenant governor "beyond the Júcar River" had agreed on a settlement regarding Mahomat's wounding of another seigneurial Muslim. Despite the settlement, the lieutenant governor still attempted to have Mahomat seized, but Caldes, who was protecting Mahomat in his own house, would not allow it, pointing out that Mahomat, now a royal vassal, fell under only the bailif's jurisdiction. Unfortunately, Luis Ferrer, the lieutenant governor of the entire kingdom, got wind of the affair. It so happened that the Muslim whom Mahomat had wounded was the vassal of one of Ferrer's relations. Ferrer complained to the bailiff general about Caldes, but to no avail. Later, when Caldes went to Játiva to pay the remainder of the settlement, the lieutenant governor threw him in jail and then proceeded to Castellón. There he and his men broke into Mahomat's house and made an inventory of the property they intended to confiscate on behalf of one of Mahomat's creditors. Worse still, when the other Muslim residents of Castellón witnessed these events they became very uneasy and began wondering about their own security, while other Muslims intending to move there changed their minds. Eventually the matter was set right, and the new aljama managed, if not to prosper, at least to survive.
Whatever success Juan II and his son might have had in forming the new aljamas of Alcoy and Castellón de Játiva, it is doubtful if the income derived from these aljamas offset the losses sustained by the Crown in 1455 when the morería of the capital was sacked and largely depopulated. Valencia's Muslims had been notable for their prosperity and commercial activity. In the first half of the fifteenth century of the 170 Mudejar merchants conducting business with the sultanate of Granada, 118 were from the capital. In contrast, during the years 1479–1491, of the 32 Mudejars engaged in commerce with Granada and North Africa, only seven were residents of Valencia's struggling morería , and three of these were agents of the powerful Bellvis family. Juan II had attempted to rebuild and repopulate the morería by enjoining the aljama's creditors to reduce the amounts the aljama owed, and by permitting the aljama to pay to the Crown a simple annual lump sum of 25 pounds instead of the usual royal taxes. Fernando followed suit and confirmed the privileges conceded by his father. Their efforts were not futile, for there is evidence that the morería attracted new vassals during Juan's reign, and under Fernando between thirty and forty Mudejars took up residence there. However, the aljama never regained its former prosperity, since artisans had replaced the long-distance merchants.
Because there simply were not enough bodies to populate both baronies and royal towns sufficiently, the Crown's policy of promoting the growth of its own aljamas could, after all, have only limited success, and since the new royal vassals were acquired from seigneurial lands, that policy could not be pursued too aggressively lest the nobility be dangerously alienated. Of course, the fluctuations of population were out of the king's control and depended on biological and epidemiological factors. However, the conquest of the sultanate of Granada presented Fernando with a situation in which he could direct the fate and, more importantly, the settlement of a large conquered Muslim population. As a means of preventing the complete ruination of Granada's economy, Fernando and Isabel reproduced the Mudejar pattern throughout the conquered sultanate. The large majority of Granada's Muslims remained in their homes as the vassals of the Crown of Castile and Castilian lords. Yet Fernando managed to secure some Granadans as vassals of his own Crown of Aragon.
More than three years before the conquest of the sultanate was completed Fernando began permitting the entry of Granadan Muslims into the Christian kingdoms as royal vassals. Some of these early immigrants, from Almería and Baza, seem to have been Fernando's agents. The Almerians, at least, expressed their fear of the sultan and of the city's other Muslims, probably on account of their own treachery. At the request of the faqih[*] of Valencia's aljama, who hoped to expedite the
escape of his relations from Almería before its fall, Fernando conceded a safe-conduct to the faqih 's[*] sister-in-law and niece, "and all their family and company ... to come to live in our city of Valencia and become our vassals."
The majority of the immigrants came from Vera and Almería, the part of the sultanate closest to Valencia. It was with these cities, especially Almería, that the Mudejars had maintained the most extensive commercial and family ties. Fernando even went so far as to allow Muslims from Vera, who had first emigrated to Oran, to return and become royal vassals in Valencia. Other immigrants originated from Málaga, Baza, and Granada itself.
The Granadans settled in a variety of localities. Some made their new homes in royal morerías , such as Játiva, Alcira, Valencia, and Calatayud in Aragon. Others became seigneurial vassals and joined the aljamas of Manises, Novelda, Elche, Bétera, Valldigna, Cocentaina, and others. The majority of the latter were captives from Málaga who had first been sold in the kingdom as slaves and subsequently were ransomed by the seigneurial aljamas.
On occasion Fernando settled the Granadan Muslims in specific locations. He rewarded his bailiff "beyond the Jijona River" with a number of Muslim households to populate lands the latter possessed near Orihuela. These Muslims were not slaves, for they made a feudal contract with their new lord, promising to remain on his lands as vassals for a period of five years. Still, in general, the king was content with the fact that the Muslims had come voluntarily to live in his kingdoms and was not too particular as to where they settled. In one instance, Queen Isabel bade the bailiff general to place Muslims from Vera on the lands of the Cardinal of Valencia: "work with them [the Muslims] in a manner that they accept their residence in the said baronies and in no other area." One month later Fernando countermanded his wife's order, instructing the bailiff not to force the Muslims to live on the Cardinal's lands, but to allow them to settle where they wished, preferably "in our royal cities and lands rather than in any [other] lands." In another case, the councillors of Montalbán had requested that the king send Muslims to settle in their town, but Fernando wrote them that his hands were, in effect, tied, "inasmuch as in their submission to our obedience we promised them and gave them freedom to go where they wish and, thus, for the sake of justice, they cannot be forced to live in some place against their will."
Of course, there were strings attached, namely, that wherever a Granadan Muslim chose to settle he would have to pay the accustomed taxes, just like the other Mudejars of Valencia. When some Almerians maintained that the king had granted them exemptions from these
taxes, Fernando replied, "we are surprised that they would claim such a thing, because we never would grant them anything that was contrary to the taxes of that kingdom." The royal "milch cows" might graze where they liked, but they still had to produce milk.
It is extremely difficult to assess how many Granadan Muslims were incorporated into Valencia's Mudejar population. It is unlikely that their numbers were very great. Those Granadans unable to endure Christian rule would have emigrated to the Maghrib, and those who remained in Granada did so because of their attachment to their still recognizably Islamic homeland. Valencia, long transmogrified by a Christian impress, offered them little attraction. Only after Cisneros set in motion a sequence of rebellions and more or less forced conversions (1499–1502) would Valencia have appeared a haven, but by then it was too late, for the kingdom of Granada had been effectively cordoned off from the territories of the Crown of Aragon. The Granadan Muslims who made their way to Valencia did so either because they had kinfolk there, as was the case with a number of Almerians, or because they came in through the back door as slaves who, once ransomed, stayed on, or as refugees who were disenchanted with life in the Maghrib and could not return home. Whatever their numbers, the salient point is that Fernando was willing to accept them as vassals. With one eye on his purse and the other on the example of his forbears, the king concluded that the perpetuation of Mudejarism had its benefits.
With both Crown and nobility, including ecclesiastical prelates, striving to maintain the population and productivity of their lands, Mudejar emigration to North Africa was correspondingly restricted and usually completely prohibited. When Mudejars were permitted to emigrate, they had to pay a passage duty of 13s 4d. Jewish emigrants paid far less, only 3s 4d, which reflects the greater economic importance of the Muslims in Valencia.
Emilia Salvador has traced the increasing stringency of the emigration policy from the time of the thirteenth-century conquest until the midsixteenth century. The ten-year suspension on the issuance of emigration licenses enacted by Pedro IV at the request of the Corts (1370) became a perpetual prohibition under Martin I (1403). No doubt demographic change and a diminishing labor supply were considerations guiding the imposition of these restrictions. In the Corts of 1488 Martin's prohibition was reiterated.
Despite such prohibitions, monarchs sometimes, in individual cases, conceded licenses for emigration or permitted the bailiff general to do so. This was a means of getting ready cash from the passage duties the Muslims had to pay. Juan II (1477) allowed the bailiff general to issue licenses, as did Fernando at the outset of his reign. In 1486 this was
still described as one of the bailiff general's duties. Other officials who licensed Mudejars to emigrate were reprimanded for having encroached on the bailiff's special prerogative. It seems that even after the Corts of 1488 the bailiff continued to grant emigration licenses, for which reason the military estate expressed considerable dismay. Valencian Muslims who could not cross to the Maghrib from the port of Valencia might have been able to do so through Tortosa in Catalonia. Before 1498 there is no record of how many Mudejars emigrated to the Maghrib, and after 1498 none of the emigrés were Valencians. In any case, by 1492 Fernando had definitely deprived the bailiff general of the prerogative of licensing Mudejar emigration. Consequently, the bailiff's lieutenant had to be compensated for the revenues he had been receiving for his labors in the emigration procedures. In 1493 the king expressly forbade the emigration of a rich Muslim of Játiva. There is little other indication in the documentation that Valencia's Mudejars desired to emigrate. This became the case only during the troubled years after 1500. Even if emigration had been desired, it was only infrequently permitted. It would have made little sense for the king to have exerted such effort to attract Mudejar vassals only to allow them to slip through his fingers.
The criterion by which the success of Fernando's program to augment the population of royal aljamas may be evaluated is the degree to which the aljamas grew. The besant lists of certain royal aljamas (the besant was the hearth tax paid annually by each Muslim household) allow for an assessment of the aljamas' population size on a yearly basis. It should be pointed out, however, that the besant lists have only a relative value. Not all Mudejars paid the besant ; some were excused for reason of poverty, and others, as in Játiva, were exempted for a number of years as an inducement to their becoming royal vassals. Of course, the Crown was mainly interested in those Muslims who could pay their taxes. Population increase need not have been due to immigration; it might have been merely the result of other demographic factors, in the case of the besant , the departure of adult children from their parents' home to their own dwelling in the same morería . Likewise, population decrease was not necessarily caused by the flight of Mudejars to seigneurial lands, but by the normal rate of mortality or by an abnormally high rate due to plague.
Taking these factors into consideration, the besant lists suggest that Fernando's program had moderate success (see table 1). The morerías of Alcira, Castellón de la Plana, Murviedro, and Monforte all show an increase in population, but without any extraordinary surges forward. From other sources, we know that at least six seigneurial Muslims joined the aljama of Liria, with the same number taking up residence in
Villarreal, and at least thirty Muslims doing so in Valencia's morería . Valencia, as a commercial center with a growing and dynamic population, held obvious attraction for the ambitious Mudejar. Although some Mudejars moved to Valencia from considerable distances, the usual pattern was for the Mudejar to move to a royal morería near his former place of residence. This allowed him to attend more easily to landholdings and other business interests concentrated within a specific region. The one important exception to the success of Fernando's program was
the aljama of Játiva, the largest in the kingdom. It seems to have experienced a steady decline in population, to which the oppressive administration of the local bailiff likely contributed (see below). Plague also seems to have played a role. Given the kingdom's overall decline in population, the resistance of lords to their vassals' change of status, and the varied circumstances militating against a Mudejar's mobility (insolvency, preference of seigneurial. lands for the comparative isolation they afforded Muslim communities, and so on), it was no small achievement that Fernando had any success at all in augmenting the population of his aljamas.