In fifteenth-century Valencia, as in the rest of preindustrial Europe, the great majority of Muslims and Christians were farmers. In a purely occupational sense, the Mudejars were not much different from their
Almohad ancestors. What had changed markedly since the Christian conquest was the nature of the Muslims' proprietary rights over the lands they farmed. During the thirteenth century most Mudejars retained the status they had before the conquest, that of free proprietors, only now paying their taxes to a Christian king or lord. By the mid-fourteenth century, however, after Christian power had been consolidated, Boswell found that "the untidy remnants of the 'free' Mudejar population were swept aside into one category or another of feudal servitude." By Fernando's reign this state of affairs had not altered, for all Mudejars were either vassals of the king in royal morerías or vassals of lay and ecclesiastical lords, normally holding their lands in enfiteusis from these lords.
Nevertheless, extreme care must be taken in discussing the Mudejars' "feudal servitude." The Mudejar's vassalage to a particular lord, beyond the fundamental obligation of the vassal to render certain rents and services to his lord in exchange for land and protection, may connote an exceedingly unfavorable situation in which the Mudejar and his progeny were irredeemably tied to their plot of land on the seigneury. Such immobility under the heavy burden of seigneurial demands, while certainly the lot of many Mudejars in the late fifteenth century, was more characteristic of fourteenth-century (at least until midcentury) and sixteenth-century conditions. As has been pointed out, the Mudejars during Fernando's reign were hardly immobilized. With the kingdom underpopulated outside of the capital, there was a great demand for their labor and many changed vassalage in the quest for more favorable conditions. The Muslims' greater opportunity and mobility, in what appears to have been a general state of flux, are reflected in the documentation concerning Mudejar land tenure. Although the royal documentation is spotty—and here, local studies would be extremely useful—there is perceptible a pattern of individual Muslims holding lands around any number of towns and villages, both royal and seigneurial. The salient point regarding the Mudejar's feudal servitude is that his bond of vassalage to a particular lord and his residence on that lord's estate did not preclude his renting lands in other localities. Thus, the Mudejar, while having only one seigneur, might have any number of landlords and a corresponding variety of rents and obligations.
Most Mudejar properties, like those of most Christians, were held in enfiteusis. According to this arrangement, the owner of the property—not necessarily the Mudejar's seigneur—ceded usufruct of it to the Mudejar tenant in return for an annual rent paid in either cash or kind. While the landlord retained eminent domain over the land, the Muslim farmer was, for all intents and purposes, its real owner. As long as he paid his rents and in no other way violated the terms of the enfiteutic
contract, he could pass on the land to his heirs or alienate it to whomever he wished. Usually, the landlord had the rights of fadiga and lluisme . The fadiga was the right of priority by which the landlord himself could buy back the land from the tenant in the case that the latter wished to sell it. When the tenant sold the land to a third party, the landlord collected from the former the lluisme , usually 10 percent of the sale price. The new tenant then held the property from the landlord under the same conditions as the vendor. When Mahomat Metli, a vassal in the morería of Valencia, purchased "certain land" in Cuart (in the huerta of Valencia) from Joan Esthelo for 54 pounds 15s, the land was described as "held under the direct lordship [i.e., domain] of the Reverend majoral of the said place of Cuart at a rent of 14s to be paid each year on the feast of All Saints and with lluisme and fadiga and every other full enfiteutic right."
Most landlords of Mudejar tenants were, of course, the seigneurs of the places where the properties were located—king, noblemen, and prelates. However, most Mudejar lands located within the districts of royal towns were rented from ecclesiastical institutions and not from the Crown. In Alcira the local Augustinian community, secular clergymen, and the monastery of Valldigna all figure among the Muslims' landlords. Valencia's faqih[*] , Abdurrazmen Mascor, rented land in the city's huerta from Pasqual Yvanyes, a priest beneficed in the local see. Also, many Muslims of royal morerías rented their homes by enfiteutic contract from the Crown, Christian citizens, or local clergy. The nuns of the convent of Santa Clara were prominent as the landlords of many houses in the morería of Valencia.
Rents varied according to the size of the property, whether it was located in an irrigated or a dry zone, and the type of crop planted on it. Irrigated land was more valuable than dry, and vineyards and mulberry orchards, for instance, were dearer than land planted with carob trees. Most rents seem to have been paid in cash, although even within the same seigneury the type of payment demanded by the landlord might vary for different parcels of land. For instance, of the properties of Fuçey Zignell held in enfiteusis from the abbot of Valldigna, most had monetary rents. However, Fuçey was obliged to render to the abbot one-third of the produce from his carob orchards and one-ninth of the produce from a piece of huerta land planted with cereals.
One also finds Mudejars involved in sharecropping arrangements of a more temporary nature. Mahomat, Jucef[*] , and Azmet Perromalo, vassals in the morería of Murviedro, cultivated the lands of an alqueria (hamlet) located within the town's district and owned by Joan Sparça, a local resident. Sparía had advanced money to the Perromalos, presumably for the purchase of seed and tools. In return the Muslims—
described as migers —were to give to Sparça one-half of the harvest and olive oil produced therefrom.Alqueries owned by canons of Játiva were also tilled by Mudejars, perhaps under similar sharecropping arrangements.
It was not unusual for Muslims to possess allodial lands, and it is probable that the phenomenon of free Muslim proprietorship increased during the fifteenth century. Barceló Torres suggests that as a result of Crown efforts from the beginning of the century to attract Mudejars to royal towns, Mudejars cultivated lands in the marginal zones of the towns that they then held as allods. The data collected by Tomas Peris Albentosa on the property of Mudejars within the municipal district of Alcira (1512) shows that a substantial portion of it was allodial (e.g., 51.9 percent in the zone of Almunia). Peris's qualification of his findings with the conjecture that rented lands tended to be the best lands fits well with Barceló's thesis of Mudejars reclaiming lands in the towns' marginal zones. If the allodial properties of such enterprising Mudejars were not the most valuable, they nevertheless could be quite substantial. Mahomat Algazel of Alcira, for instance, owned a jovate and a half (i.e., 54 fanecates ; 1 fanecate = 831 square meters) of land planted with olive trees ("olivar tua franqua."). Although the allodial holdings of the Muslims of Alcira might have been exceptional, considering the impressive growth of the town's aljama, free Muslim proprietors turn up elsewhere. For example, a number of Muslims of Micleta with allods in the seigneuries of Albalat and Altea are described as holding the lands "as lords ... and thus they have the said possession [of the land] titled with the said domain." Ali Alami and Azmet Almoli of Alcocer each purchased sixteen fanecates of land, more or less, located within the limits of the struggling town of Castellón de Játiva. They, too, were "lords" of their properties, and the previous owner of all 32 fanecates was another Muslim.
There is general agreement among historians that the Mudejars were gradually pushed out of the kingdom's rich irrigated huertas into zones of dry farming. The dichotomy between irrigated and dry land largely paralleled that between royal and seigneurial land, so that the Mudejars, for the most part seigneurial vassals, were primarily dry farmers from the midfourteenth century onward. This description is most applicable to the huertas of Castellón de la Plana and Valencia, although there is evidence of Muslim property around Cuart in the capital's huerta . Irrigation farming by Mudejars is more evident in the huertas of other towns, such as Villarreal, where Muslim tenants from the Vall de Uxó and Artana paid the sequiatge (canal maintenance tax), or Orihuela, where three Muslim and two Christian villages were settled around the Quartal irrigation canal. Mudejars inhabiting towns with larger Mus-
lim populations tended to hold a more substantial share of irrigated land. This was particularly the case at Játiva, where, for instance, Azmet Bugeig possessed an irrigated parcel planted with olive and carob trees and grapevines, and Gandía, where Muslims grew sugar cane in the huerta . Alcira also had its Muslim irrigation farmers, like Çaat Hualit.
It should not be thought that seigneurial lands were exclusively dry farming areas. A number of seigneuries benefited from irrigation, although their systems were less developed than those of the urban centers. Seigneuries located near a royal town often channeled water into their own lands from the town's main canal. Thus, the town's sequier (irrigation officer) could fine seigneurial vassals who misappropriated or wasted water. Mudejars of Torres Torres and Alcocer were penalized by the sequiers of Murviedro and Alcira, respectively. Precious commodity that water was, the question of access to it occasioned a number of clashes between lords and vassals of adjacent seigneuries. The viceroy was forced to reprimand the bailiff, alcayt , and amin s[*] of the Foya de Llombay for restricting the flow of water through the canal, thereby endangering the millet and corn crops of Alginet. The Muslims of Les Benexides complained that their lands were on the point of ruination because the lord of Alcantera had somehow obstructed the irrigation canal that ran from the Sallent River through Alcantera.
Glick points out that irrigation generally was not used for growing exotic plants, but to increase the yield of ordinary crops. In conformity with the general pattern of Mediterranean agriculture, the triad of cereals, olives, and vineyard was prevalent in Valencia. Although chronically deficient in wheat production, the majority of the land, particularly huerta land, was devoted to the cultivation of cereals, primarily wheat, but rice and barley were also important. Vineyard and olive trees were grown mainly in dry farming areas, though they were irrigated as well. Important secondary crops were sugarcane, carob, and figs. Industrial plants were also grown: flax, for the fabrication of linen, and mulberry trees, for the growing local silk industry.
It appears that most Mudejars cultivated only small amounts of land, whether rented or allodial. For a more precise understanding of Mudejar material life it would be helpful to know just how small their properties were. Unfortunately, the royal documentation is not especially useful for answering this question. Even the descriptions of individual parcels of land have only a limited value, for, owing to the dispersed and patchwork pattern of Valencian land tenure—a couple of fanecates of vineyard here, a few planted with wheat there—one cannot be certain that the parcel under consideration was in fact the full extent of the Muslim's landed property. Fortunately, there is one local study of
Mudejar land tenure, that of Peris Albentosa on Alcira, to provide some guidelines. In 1512 65.7 percent of Alcira's Muslims held a small quantity of property (1 to 25 fanecates ), 29.7 percent a middling quantity (25 to 75 fanecates ), and only 4.5 percent a large quantity (more than 75 fanecates ). Regarding the number of parcels of land held, 34.2 percent of the Muslims possessed only one parcel, 13.5 percent two parcels, 27.9 percent from three to five parcels, 19.8 percent from six to ten parcels, and 4.5 percent more than ten parcels. However, certain qualifications must be made about even this data. First, one cannot necessarily correlate the extent of a Mudejar's landed property to his level of wealth. This especially applies to the residents of an urban morería like Alcira, many of whom were artisans. It may well be that a number of smallholders were artisans for whom agriculture was merely a subsidiary activity.
Second, Peris's study treats only those properties located within the limits of Alcira's district. Yet, as has been pointed out, Mudejars frequently rented lands outside of their place of residence. Sources other than those explored by Peris show that Muslims of Alcira had properties in Corbera, Alberique, and Turís. Thus, not even a detailed local study can fully answer the question of how much land was actually held by the individual Mudejar.
Nevertheless, the pattern of Muslims renting property both from their seigneurs and from landlords in other localities is significant in itself. It seems to have been characteristic of the land tenure of many Mudejars, not only the most affluent. Numerous examples of this pattern can be found in the documentation (table 2), and the fact that such cases almost always involve the complaints of either the distant landlord or the absentee Muslim tenant suggests that it was widespread, noted by the officials only when problems arose.
The lands held by Mudejars outside of their place of residence were usually located on a seigneury or within the district of a town close to the place of residence. To a certain extent this parallels the movement of those Muslims who became vassals in royal towns: most originated from neighboring seigneuries, with the exception of those who settled in the morería of Valencia. The localization of the Mudejars' additional properties was logical enough. If the absentee tenant intended to cultivate the land himself, it was necessary that he be able to reach it within a few hours. Even if the tenant sublet his land to Muslim sharecroppers, it was still preferable to be close enough to ensure that the land was being properly attended to and that he was receiving his share of the harvest. Considering the not infrequent attempts of landlords to hinder the absentee tenants in the collection of their harvests, vigilance on the part of the latter was all the more necessary.
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Mudejars, especially seigneurial vassals, had a good reason for purchasing or leasing land outside of their place of residence instead of simply doing so at home: the obligations of tenants to their landlords were lighter than those of vassals, particularly Muslim vassals, to their lords. When landlords attempted to exact from their tenants the same taxes that their vassals were liable to pay, the tenants would object that they were liable for only those taxes "the other landholders (terratinents ) are accustomed to pay." The obligations of tenants varied somewhat from place to place. All tenants, of course, paid the annual rent on their land. They were also obliged to pay the peyta (property tax) and the tithes collected from all landholders by royal, ecclesiastical, or seigneurial officials. There are a few more specific references to arrangements between landlords and tenants. In one case the landlord would collect from his Muslim tenants all the raisins they had grown, and after selling them would retain for himself the amount owed to him as rent, returning the remainder of the proceeds to his tenants. Muslims of Elda renting land in Agost were obliged to render to their landlord the terratge , that is, a certain portion of their harvest.
Still, such taxes were lighter than the various obligations incumbent on vassals. Vassals were obliged to use the royal or seigneurial utilities and to pay fees for their use. Had the tenants been compelled to grind their wheat in the landlord's mill or to press their olives in his press, they would have had to repeat the payment of a tax they were already paying to their own lord. Moreover, there was a wide variety of other taxes and services for which vassals were liable: a gift of two chickens each year, a certain amount of honey, spinning flax, laboring on the lord's land, the cena, morabatí , and other taxes, and, beyond the rent and tithe, a further portion of the harvest. Therefore, the Mudejars who rented lands outside of their own seigneury were able to retain for themselves more of the produce from these lands than they could from the lands they held from their own lord.
That such a state of affairs should have arisen was due to the under-population and chronic labor shortage in the kingdom. King, nobles, and prelates all needed more hands to work their fields, preferably new vassals, but if not, then new absentee tenants. Chapter 1 described how Fernando and the barons competed for the vassalage of Mudejars, and how some royal towns, such as Alcoy and Castellón de Játiva, their populations decimated by pestilence, were in desperate need of new inhabitants. The straitened circumstances of some lords whose estates were underpopulated and uncultivated are well illustrated by the example of the seigneury of Terrateig in the Vall de Albaida. Its lords, Don Pedro Dixer and his wife Dona Johana, were compelled to lease the place to Francesch Vilana, a citizen of Valencia residing on the barony
of Castellón de Rugat, and Adam Alactar, a Muslim of Castellón, for six years at an annual rent of 3200s. Much of the property in Terrateig had been abandoned, and Vilana and Alactar had their work cut out for them. Later, when Don Pedro violated their agreement and attempted to drive the lessees out of Terrateig, it was described how "they [Vilana and Alactar] have diligently worked to have vassals and landholders [moros vassalls are mentioned earlier in the document] in the said place, loaning them wheat, barley ... and other grains for the purpose of sowing and cultivating ... in a manner that the said place and area may be increased and improved." The diligence of the lessees indeed paid off, which explains Don Pedro's rather timely breach of contract: "the said place and area being so much increased and prospering that it has been a long time since there has been seen in the said place and area such a great planting of all manner of grains ... as a result of the said work and industry and expenses of the said plaintiffs [Vilana and Alactar]."
Clearly, land was available, and astute lords and enterprising townsmen investing in the land were willing to offer favorable conditions to prospective vassals and tenants to see that it was farmed. It was a buyer's or tenant's market and prices and rents were probably reasonable (one may recall how the Christians of Alcoy desired the settlement of Mudejars so that land values would increase). There is no lack of evidence of Mudejars buying land. For example, Çaat Hualit purchased from Galçeran Gombau some allodial land in Alcira's huerta worth 70 pounds, adding to the at least five fanecates he held in enfiteusis in the Almunia. Significantly, some of the property that Muslims rented from the Crown in Alcira had been "abandoned land" (terra derrenclida ). Again, the picture comes to mind of a regional economy struggling to recover and expand through the reclamation, repopulation, and cultivation of abandoned land.
The purchase of land by Mudejars, their ability to change vassalage, and their possession of land in diverse localities reflects an improvement in their material conditions during the course of the fifteenth century. However, one author has suggested that the Mudejars' holding of land outside of their place of residence attests to their need to obtain a surplus of crops in order to pay seigneurial rents and dues; in other words, it is evidence of their material difficulties. It is undeniable that the burden of seigneurial dues weighed heavily on many vassals, and that it ground some into a state of abject poverty which they could not escape. To this the enslavement of insolvent Mudejar vassals is dramatic testimony. Also, the fact that a number of lords and their aljamas were in financial straits, weighed down by outstanding pensions (censals ), casts a shadow over any picture of increasing Mudejar prosperity. Nevertheless, that Mudejars were able, for whatever reason, to purchase and
cultivate more land, either at home or in other places, indicates an improvement in their situation. Even if the resultant surplus was used only to meet the demands of the lord—and this often was not the case, for there is evidence of Muslims selling their surplus crops in urban markets —this was still far better than not being able to pay at all. Moreover, many of the Mudejars who held property in diverse places did so as a consequence of having changed vassalage. Since dissolving the bonds of vassalage required the settling of accounts with one's lord, the absentee land tenure of such Muslims is indicative of at least their solvency, if not their prosperity.
Truly impoverished Muslims would have been unable to purchase or lease additional land. Therefore, one can infer that there were two classes (at least) of Mudejar proprietors: a class of growing affluence able to invest in new land, change vassalage with the hope of obtaining better conditions, or both; and a class devoted to subsistence agriculture, rendered immobile by poverty and hardly making ends meet.
An example from the more prosperous class is Fuçey Zignell, a Muslim from Valldigna who later became a royal vassal in the morería of Valencia. Fuçey and his sons appear most frequently in the documents as retail merchants trading in the capital. At the same time, Fuçey continued to hold in Valldigna land planted with flax, mulberry and carob trees, and wheat. This combination of retail merchandising, or manufacturing, with agrarian pursuits was not uncommon, and further explains why seigneurial Muslims moved to royal towns: urban life was more conducive to entrepreneurship and economic diversification.
The activities of the Mudejar underclass do not emerge as clearly. That a Fuçey Zignell could be a merchant in Valencia while renting lands in Valldigna raises an interesting question: who tilled the lands of Fuçey and of others like him? It has been conjectured with good reason that the kingdom's wealthier Muslims often sublet their properties, especially those located outside of their place of residence, to poorer coreligionists. Perhaps sharecropping arrangements were common in these circumstances. In addition, there probably was a substantial body of Mudejar day laborers who subsisted by working the lands of their more fortunate fellows. There is an interesting incidental reference to "certain Sarracens plowing or otherwise laboring on a certain field of Abrahim Juçefi." Because Christian officials were concerned mainly with the contracts between Christian landlords and Muslim tenants, and not with the arrangements worked out among the Muslims themselves, there is little other solid evidence about these sharecroppers and day laborers.
It is difficult to know what portion of the Mudejar population constituted this lower stratum and what portion had the means to leave their
land in another's care. In the latter one should not see an upper class of great wealth, but more of a prospering middle class. Given the considerable evidence of a number of Mudejars augmenting their landholdings or striking out on new commercial ventures, it may be inferred that this middle class was of some size and was perhaps growing. The anti-Muslim violence of the Germanías , ideological motives notwithstanding, may well have been in part an expression of Christian resentment against the members of this class.