Mudejar artisans engaged in a wide variety of industrial activities. While most evident in urban centers, where they produced for a large local or sometimes a kingdom-wide market, Mudejar artisans were also active on seigneurial lands, although here their manufacturing was intended strictly for local consumption. Notwithstanding their skills as craftsmen and the general shortage of labor in the kingdom, the Mudejars' opportunities in industry were not unlimited, for the monopolization of certain crafts by Christians guilds tended toward the exclusion of Muslim artisans.
Because Christian craft guilds were essentially religious confraternities, the membership of Muslim and Jewish artisans was problematic. The guilds justified their ordinances prohibiting the membership of non-Christians by emphasizing the religious dissidence of the latter. The ordinances of Valencia's confraternity of mattressmakers and quilt-makers, presented to the king for confirmation in 1479, are quite explicit in this regard:
We ask and demand that it be ordained that no one who is a Moor or a Jew may practice the trade of mattress and quilt maker in the city of Valencia, nor may they [Muslims and Jews] be admitted to the examinations of the confraternity, nor may they practice the said trade as masters. The same should be [ordained] for slaves or bastard sons of slaves, so that the trade not fall to vile persons or to enemies of the Holy Faith.
The guild of cappers similarly ruled "that any Moor or Jew, who are enemies of the Holy Catholic Faith, if he is not already a slave of the capper, cannot in any manner practice or work in the said trade."
Other guilds, in justifying such discriminatory legislation, voiced their fears of the Mudejars as a fifth column who might reveal the Christians' technological secrets to Aragon's Islamic foes. The cord-makers reasoned that Mudejars given access to the trade might teach to Maghriban Muslims the art of making crossbow string; the carpenters claimed that Mudejars who became skilled in woodworking would aid Muslim corsairs in constructing ships (1424); and the Christian manufacturers of cuirasses, harnesses, swords, and spears all had obvious reasons for excluding Muslims from their trades (1480).
Nevertheless, anxiety about Muslim or Jewish competition was
weightier than ideological or political concerns in motivating the Christian guilds' exclusivity. The silkweavers of Valencia at least were more forthright in explaining why the masters of the trade could not give instruction to Muslim and Jewish apprentices: "it would be a great damage ... to the workers of the said craft, for whom work would be lacking." It was also for economic reasons that Christian guilds consistently prohibited Muslim and Jewish craftsmen from working on Sundays and Christian feast days—it would have given them an edge in productivity. Yet other guilds less pressed by "infidel" competition were not adverse to the idea of Muslims and Jews being examined and approved as masters. The feltmakers of Valencia ordained that "no person of whatever law [i.e., religion] or condition can have a loom or looms if he is not already an examined master," implying that persons of all religions could become master feltmakers. Nor do the guilds' professed political fears appear too convincing when one considers that although Mudejars did not manufacture cuirasses or swords, they nevertheless were active in producing shields and bucklers, and many were smiths, metalworkers, and carpenters. Even Christian carpenters employed Maghriban Muslim slaves, despite enactments to the contrary. A guild's profession of religious and political concerns seems to have served mainly as a screen for the more practical aim of maintaining its monopoly of a particular trade. As for the trades in which Christian craftsmen were less interested, such concerns strangely disappeared; there was room enough for Christian, Muslim, and Jew.
Muslim and Jewish artisans responded to the exclusive legislation of Christian guilds by forming their own craft guilds. The Muslim shoe-makers of the capital had a confraternity, and, according to Dolors Bramon, there were many minority guilds, all characterized by religiously exclusive membership. It made perfect sense that Muslims and Jews would have wanted confraternities for the mutual support and services they provided for members. In those trades where Christian masters refused to examine Muslims and Jews, the latter would have needed an organization for maintaining standards and setting prices. The barring of Muslims and Jews from Christian guilds, therefore, did not necessarily prevent them from practicing the trades in question.
However, it should not be imagined that there existed a minority guild system—or an "authentic counter-society," as Bramon has proposed —paralleling and competing with that of the Christians. The Valencian economy was far more integrated and functioned far more efficiently than such a bipartite guild system would have allowed for. In the treatment of Mudejar artisans that follows, three characteristics of the economy will emerge with clarity: (1) although Muslims and Christians practicing the same trade often competed with one another, they
were also able to work cooperatively; (2) Muslims and Christians were more apt to practice different trades that complemented one another than to be rivals within the same trade (the restrictive legislation of the Christian guilds might have been little more than a confirmation of this tendency); and (3) as a consequence of the second point, Muslim and Christian artisans were as likely to sell their wares to clients of different faiths as to coreligionists. The Valencian economy was structured in a manner that left far less room for Muslim-Christian rivalry than the regulations of Christian guilds would suggest.
The documentation is most revealing about the activities of Mudejar shoemakers in the capital. They had their own guild, the ordinances of which were approved by the bailiff general in 1497. The Muslim shoemakers organized themselves for their own protection and to maintain standards of craftsmanship. They were particularly anxious about those Muslims who were coming to the city and, without making themselves royal vassals, were renting workshops and houses in or near the morería . The problem was not so much a glut of shoes on the market as the quality of the product being marketed by these free-lance shoemakers. Valencia was an expanding city and a center of economic opportunity. Persons of diverse origins flocked there either to make their fortunes or to join the ranks of the urban proletariat. Muça Almedino, a metalworker from Calatayud (Aragon), had little difficulty finding day work with Christian cutlers and boilermakers in Valencia; even a Muslim from Málaga sought employment there. Even though there were 45,000 pairs of feet to be shod in the city, the morería 's shoemakers probably feared losing customers to the newcomers. The latter, although manufacturing an inferior product, most likely were undercutting the guild's prices. The masters of the guild complained that "the products that those [newcomers] make are neither good nor suitable, nor made with the perfection that ought to be done by good shoe-makers." The masters maintained that this state of affairs could lead to the diminution of the morería 's population (always a convincing argument with the Crown authorities), the implication being that the circulation of inferior products and the undercutting of prices would cause the guild's ruination.
In order to remedy this situation the masters proclaimed with the bailiff general's concurrence that no Muslim could rent a workshop without first having been examined and approved by them. The prerequisite for certification was a three-year apprenticeship with one of the masters. Sons of shoemakers had to work with their fathers for three years, and had to be eighteen years of age and married before they could have their own shop. In this way the masters could
enforce quality and price controls and strengthen their own economic and social position.
Muslim and Christian shoemakers seem to have coexisted amicably enough. Aside from the Christian shoemakers demanding that their Muslim and Jewish counterparts not labor on Sundays and feast days, there is little evidence of an intense Christian-Muslim competition. In fact, Christian shoemakers sometimes toiled in the homes and shops of Muslims, although it is difficult to know in what capacity they did so. Joan de Gandía and Miquel de Boro manufactured shoes in the home of Abdalla Torralbi, a linen-draper, whose sons Azmet and Çahat were shoemakers. Joan recounted that he conversed with Azmet as he worked, stopping only to go home for lunch.
When in need of materials, Muslim shoemakers patronized Christian tanners and manufacturers of brass buckles (oripells ). In the capital these two crafts seem to have been exclusively in the hands of Christians. The sources for the business between these Muslim and Christian artisans are spotty, inasmuch as they consist of either the bailiff general's letters of execution against those Muslims late in paying their Christian creditors—who would have been more the exception than the rule—or the Muslims' public acknowledgment of their debts. Nevertheless, the sources are revealing. They show that the working capital needed to operate industry in Valencia was provided in part by short-term credit arrangements between artisans whose crafts were complementary. Thus, the Christian tanner would furnish leather to the Muslim shoemaker on credit, with the understanding that he would be paid as soon as the Muslim received payment for his finished products. The tanner's confidence that the shoemaker would, indeed, fulfill his obligation was enhanced by the fact that the members of the latter's guild were accustomed to stand as pledges for honest repayment of one another's debts. For example, when Azmet Alboruch purchased leather on credit from Jaume Caldes, Axet Carcaix stood as surety for him, liquidating Alboruch's debt to Caldes when he was unable to pay at the time agreed upon. In addition to the tanner's confidence that the Muslim shoemaker's guild would not allow one of its members to default on a debt, a more fundamental mutual trust developed through frequent transactions and consequent familiarity. The sources indicate that certain Christian tanners were especially active in dealing with Muslim shoemakers. Of the sixty-one debt cases involving the shoemakers, the tanner Girart Boix appears as the creditor in twenty-one, Jaume Caldes in eight, Joan Carbonell in six, and Joan Gironella and Alfonso Delgado in three apiece. A similar pattern is apparent in the transactions between the shoemakers and the Christian manufacturers of brass buckles.
Here, in the nineteen debt cases considered, Pere Ribesaltes was the creditor eight times, his relative Bernat Ribesaltes twice, and Francesch Cabanes three times.
Játiva had Mudejar shoemakers and tanners, the latter renting the local tannery from the Crown. Travel licenses issued by the bailiff general reveal that one of the shoemakers, Çahat Cantsevol, made periodic trips to the southern part of the kingdom in order to purchase hides, probably for the morería 's tanners and shoemakers. One of Çahat's Valencian counterparts, Yuçeff Abducarim, stood as surety for him (in case he did not return), which suggests that Yuçeff had an interest in Çahat's quest for hides. And Yuçeff was not alone, for on different occasions Pedro Navarro, a Jativan merchant, and Andreu Mestre, a Valencian tanner, joined him in backing Çahat. Navarro likely intended to sell the hides retail in Játiva, while Mestre must have tanned the hides himself.
Artisans were usually artisan-retailers, responsible for both manufacturing and selling their wares. Beyond selling their products from their shops or in Valencia's market, it may be that the capital's Muslim shoemakers made some attempt to distribute their shoes throughout the kingdom. When Abrahim Fato of Cárcer traveled south "to sell clothing and certain merchandise," Yuniç Tarongeta, a shoemaker of Valencia, stood as surety for him. Perhaps shoes made by Yuniq and his fellows were part of the merchandise Abrahim was vending, in which case Abrahim would have received a share of the proceeds as compensation for his labor as an itinerant merchant.
Another important center for the manufacture of footwear was the Vall de Uxó. The hemp-sandal (espardenya ) industry was almost completely monopolized by Mudejar espardenyers . The espardenyers carried on a brisk trade with the Christian cordmakers of the capital, from whom they purchased hemp thread on credit. The cordmakers' guild, which prohibited the practice of their trade by Muslims, had no qualms at all about doing business with Muslim espardenyers . Certain cordmakers figure prominently in these transactions. In the thirty-two debt cases of Mudejar espardenyers , Jaume Lobet was the creditor ten times, Joan de Caritat nine times, Francesch Nadal five times, and Joan Bonet twice. One of the cordmakers, Joan Pérez Bou, on a few occasions pooled his resources with the espardenyers Mahomat and Suleymen Garbi in order to buy hemp from Valencian merchants. Pérez also made an interest-free loan (prestech gratios ) of 63s to the Garbis. The largest market for hemp sandals was the capital. It is therefore not surprising to find there a Muslim espardenyer from the Vall de Uxó renting a stall beside the fonduk, where he made and sold the sandals.
Mudejars were active in the textile and clothing industry as dyers, weavers, linen-drapers, tailors, and retailers. Most royal morerías had their resident dyers, as did many seigneurial morerías , especially in Valldigna. In Játiva and Murviedro Muslims rented the dyeworks from the Crown. Muslim dyers from all over the kingdom came to Valencia to purchase cloth from Christian wool-dressers and drapers, and the dyes and alum necessary for the dyeing process from merchants. There were some Mudejar cloth merchants, such as the aforementioned Ali Gehini, who made a fortune selling woolens. Mudejar tailors seem to have been located mainly on seigneurial lands, where they worked on the clothing of the local population. They, too, had to go to the urban centers for materials. Azmet Lopo, a tailor of Bellreguart, purchased over two meters of black cloth in Gandía.
In the capital there were a number of Muslim linen-drapers. One was Abdalla Torralbi, whose varied activities were probably not typical of the other practitioners of his craft. Abdalla wove linen himself and purchased flax from farmers for that purpose (twelve arrobes from Pere Màcia). As a retailer Abdalla not only sold his own work but also resold linen he had purchased from a variety of Christian parties—monks, feltmakers, tailors, notaries, and merchants. Nor did he confine himself to the retailing of only locally woven linens. He sold especially fine linens (olanda ) purchased from a Venetian wholesaler, as well as other types of cloth bought from local wool-dressers and wholesale drapers, and from a Florentine merchant. Abdalla's retail trade seems to have been quite successful, considering the large quantities of cloth he purchased from wholesale merchants. In one instance, Abdalla bought 155 pounds 7s 11d worth of cloth from the merchant Joan Allepus, whom he repaid at a rate of 3 pounds per week. Abdalla's retailing activities appear to have extended beyond the confines of the capital, for there is record of him standing as surety for Azmet Ubeyt of Valldigna, who was traveling south for commercial purposes ("per mercadejar"), perhaps with some of Abdalla's linen and cloth. He also invested in small-scale commerce with the Maghriban port of Oran. Abdalla managed to finance his retail trade by borrowing money from Christians whom he repaid with annual pensions.
The Mudejars of Valencia were not as prominent in the construction industry as were their fellows in Aragon. Aragonese Muslim "masters" were often hired to work on the royal aljafería in Zaragoza or on churches, and some were even sent down to Granada after the conquest to make repairs on the Alhambra. Still, some Valencian Mudejars labored as masons and carpenters in urban and rural areas, and they were hired by the Crown to repair royal ovens, fonduks, and other public works.
Mudejars seem to have played a somewhat more important role in the metalworking industries as smiths, boilermakers, and manufacturers of shields and bucklers. All carried on business with Christian merchants from whom they purchased their materials, both iron and copper. Through their ability to supply the artisans with materials on credit, the merchants attained a position of dominance in industry. It enabled them to some degree to dictate the terms of production to the artisans. For example, when the merchants Dionis Miguel and Francesch Miro supplied Muslim shieldmakers with iron, the latter agreed to sell bucklers to the merchants at a set rate.
Muslim saddlers are evident throughout the kingdom, and in Alcira and Játiva they leased the royal saddleworks. Játiva's Muslim residents were also involved in the fabrication of soap.
Mudejars took part in Valencia's sugar industry, not only growing sugarcane but also refining it and preparing confections for sale. Some Muslims leased sugar refineries, such as Çahat Mucellem who rented a refinery from the lawyer Miguel Albert for a number of years. Çahat Flori, a confectioner of Játiva, often did business with the representatives of the Cardinal in Valldigna. Çahat rented (or owned) fields in Valldigna planted with sugarcane, from which he supplied his own confectionary shop. However, Çahat also had to buy sugar from Valldigna's officials (they probably ran a refinery), to whom he later sold his own confections.
This brief look at Mudejar artisans may be rounded out by mentioning Muslims who made a living as entertainers (juglars ), those who fashioned musical instruments or played them, and those who worked as physicians, barbers, and surgeons. Although Mudejar medical practitioners did not have the same prominence as Jewish physicians, when all else failed a Mudejar surgeon might be called in to care for Christian notables. Mudejars, in turn, did not always go to their coreligionists with their medical problems. Some were treated by Christian physicians in Valencia's hospital.
Muslim artisans did not restrict themselves to the activity of manufacturing one specific product. Many, as has been seen, were necessarily retailers. Most in all likelihood had some land under cultivation in the area. Some were active in more than one craft. For example, Muslim shoemakers sometimes supplemented their income by repairing pots or weaving silk.