Taxation of the Mudejars
Royal Mudejar policy balanced religious scruples with political and economic imperatives. As we have seen, rumors of royal plans for a wholesale conversion or expulsion of Valencia's Muslims elicited vehement protests and dire warnings from the nobility. Fernando's maintenance of the status quo reflected his unwillingness to embroil himself in a protracted struggle with the nobility on this issue, particularly when so many of his political concerns lay further afield in a wider Mediterranean arena. It is useful to recall the persuasive arguments against conversion or expulsion offered by the magnates. Of one contention, the specter of a bloody Mudejar insurrection, we have already discussed the implications and plausibility. What concerns us presently is the other argument, that an expulsion of the Muslims, or a flight en masse provoked by the threat of forced baptism, would entail the economic ruination of the entire kingdom, not just of the nobility. The nobles pointed out that the kingdom's economy was all of a piece and that the Mudejars could not be extracted without the entire edifice crumbling. Since Mudejar labor was essential for agricultural productivity, urban markets would stagnate without the steady input of Mudejar produce from the rural hinterlands. The disaster that Mudejar emigration implied for seigneurial lands suggested equally severe consequences for the growing rentier class, comprising townsmen, clergymen, and lesser noblemen, whose incomes depended on the payment of annuities (pensions de censals ) by the barons and seigneurial aljamas to whom they had loaned considerable sums. In short, the Mudejars were integral to the kingdom's economic prosperity. The fortunes of nobleman, cleric, and bur-
gher were all linked, some more directly than others, to the Mudejars' fate. An expulsion of the Mudejars could not have been achieved without a fundamental restructuring of the economic relations between lord and peasant, town and country, and debtor and creditor.
Viewed from the throne, the Mudejars' economic importance had two aspects. First and foremost, the Mudejar presence redounded to the prosperity of the kingdom as a whole. A sound Valencian economy boded well for royal finances, since the Valencian Corts and the capital itself, the motor of the kingdom's economy, could then afford to grant to the Crown more substantial servicios and loans. The fifteenth century, often touted as Valencia's golden age, saw a steady increase in the Valencian contribution to the Crown treasury, most marked during the reign of Fernando II.
Second, the king profited from the direct taxation of Mudejar vassals residing in royal morerías . We have seen how the king and his officials struggled with the nobility in their endeavor to attract Muslims to royal aljamas. This effort was exerted in order to improve the economies of underpopulated royal towns and augment the number of taxpayers providing revenue for the royal treasury. Nevertheless, in comparison with the Mudejar contribution to the general economic health of the kingdom and, therefore, indirectly, to the funds the kingdom was able to proffer to the king, the weight of the small body of Mudejar taxpayers in the balance of the Crown's budget was not great.
As a consequence of demographic and political change, the number of Mudejar taxpayers and their significance for royal finances had steadily declined since the latter half of the fourteenth century. By Fernando's reign the Mudejars represented only 30 percent of the kingdom's total population. Furthermore, because of the continued alienation of royal lands to the nobility, the proportion of that 30 percent living in royal morerías had diminished as well. During the reign of Juan II the heavily Muslim-populated Sierra de Eslida and Vall de Uxó had been awarded to the Infante Enrique. Thus perhaps only 10 percent of the kingdom's Muslim population, and therefore a mere 3 percent of the combined Muslim-Christian total, had Fernando as their direct overlord. The remaining 90 percent of the Mudejar population paid their taxes to their noble and clerical lords. Only a few of the extraordinary taxes, such as the maridatge , were paid to the Crown by seigneurial and royal vassals alike. While it is understandable why Fernando would have wanted to increase the number of Mudejars owing vassalage to himself, at the same time it is clear that the feasibility of royal enterprises hardly hinged on taxes paid by royal Muslim vassals.
In the kingdom of Valencia the capital city was the most important
source of royal revenue. With a population of approximately 45,000 (perhaps one-sixth of the kingdom's total) and as a center of commerce and finance, Valencia was the focus of the king's attention. Fernando's control of the municipal government allowed him to exact more than 8 million maravedis in "loans." Even taking into account this substantial sum, the fact remains that Castile still contributed far more than the lands of the Crown of Aragon to royal enterprises, even those involving the expansion of Aragon's Mediterranean empire. In an inverted pyramid describing fiscal contributions to the Crown it would seem that royal Muslim vassals occupied the lowest level.
Unfortunately, we are unable to calculate the percentage of Crown revenues composed of Mudejar taxes. Juan II's bureaucratic decentralization, by which the royal archives of Valencia, Aragon proper, and Catalonia, all previously housed in Barcelona, were subsequently maintained in the respective capital cities of Valencia, Zaragoza, and Barcelona, and the vicissitudes of time and war, particularly the destruction of much of Aragon's royal archives during the Napoleonic war, have resulted in the loss of virtually all Aragonese tax records and in the survival of precious few for the aljamas of Catalonia. Even for the kingdom of Valencia alone our information is incomplete. While we possess tax data for the aljamas of some towns—Alcira, Játiva, Castellón de la Plana, and Murviedro—for certain years, information on the taxation of other royal aljamas is lacking. Moreover, in the records of a number of taxes paid by both Muslims and Christians, especially the taxes on agriculture and commerce, the scribes did not distinguish the religious affiliation of the taxpayers. These lacunae in our sources impede us from making as thorough and complete a study of royal taxation of the Mudejars as the outstanding analysis done by Boswell on the fourteenth-century Mudejars. Of course, in the fourteenth century the proportion of the population represented by Muslims was considerably larger, fewer Muslim aljamas had been alienated to the nobility, and the Aragonese kings did not have the extensive financial resources of Castile at their disposal. All of these factors raised the taxation of royal Mudejars to a far more important place in royal fiscal considerations in the fourteenth century than it would have during Fernando's reign.
Nevertheless, whatever significance Mudejar taxes had in the larger scheme of Crown finances, taxation itself was a factor of great import in the lives of individual Mudejars and their aljamas. Taxation necessarily limited the material well-being of Mudejar families and was a decisive determinant in their changing vassalage from one lord to another. The Mudejars' obligation to pay taxes to either king or lord defined and structured much of their relationship with the Christian authorities. The
myriad reasons for which the Christian king or lord could demand taxes and fees from Muslim vassals—in areas as diverse as oven rentals and prostitution licenses—meant that the Christian fiscal machinery impinged on almost every aspect of Muslim life. While the Mudejar aljamas enjoyed communal autonomy, it was an autonomy circumscribed by the tentacles of a Christian bureaucracy organized for tax collection. Therefore, a description of the various taxes that burdened the Mudejars should further our understanding of Mudejar life and its intimate relation to Christian authority.
Although a discussion of royal taxation involves only a small part of the Mudejar population, it should be noted that seigneurial Muslims bore a similar tax burden and saw their relation with their lord patterned along similar fiscal lines. That the rivalry between the king and the nobility over Mudejar vassals centered largely on the question of fiscal benefits suggests a similarity in the attitudes of the rivals toward their taxpaying vassals.
The Besant Tax
Each Muslim household paid a tax known as the besant , a tribute symbolic of their subject and inferior status in a Christian society. In this way it was similar to the jizyah , or poll tax, paid by the dhimmi s[*] in Islamic societies, though the jizyah differed in that it fell on every male beyond the age of puberty. While the besant continued to be collected from the Mudejars of the kingdom of Valencia in the fifteenth century, its collection seems to have fallen into abeyance in Aragon and Catalonia.
The besant was not an especially burdensome levy; each household paid 3s 4d annually. The Muslims of Castellón de la Plana paid a higher besant of 4s, the explanation for this probably lying in that aljama's later foundation. The aljama of Valencia, still suffering from the effects of the sack of 1455, was exempted from payment of the besant . Temporary exemption was also offered as an inducement to new vassals in the morería of Játiva. Impoverished Mudejars were perforce excused from payment. In the large aljamas of Játiva and Alcira (table 3) the number of Muslims not paying ranged from 5 to 15 percent of the total population in any given year. Although the Crown might be lenient with individual Muslims, the remission was only temporary. Once he had sufficient funds, the Muslim in arrears had to satisfy all outstanding besants (table 4). It followed that the Muslim dissolving his bonds of vassalage to the king had to discharge his besants before departure to seigneurial lands.
The varied patterns of vassalage, land tenure, and residence complicated the collection of the besant (see tables 5–10). A number of Muslims, while royal vassals in specific aljamas, continued to live in or later changed their residence to seigneurial lands. Fortunately for the aljamas' finances, the besant was assessed only on individual households, so that the aljama was not made to compensate for the unpaid besants of absentee vassals. The responsibility of collecting from these vassals thus fell to the local bailiffs, who seem to have carried out this task efficiently. Muslims dwelling in the lordships of Alcocer, Alberique, Catadau, and Valldigna are recorded as having paid the besant to the bailiff of Alcira. Likewise, the bailiff of Murviedro collected from royal vassals resident in Algimia.
Also linked to the Mudejars' status of a conquered and dissident minority was the requirement that they have a royal license to bear arms, beg for alms, and practice prostitution. The fees charged by the Crown for these licenses figured as only a minor source of royal revenue, and, although not especially high, must have proved burdensome to mendicants. It is probable that such licenses, as well as those granted to Mudejars. for travel and emigration, were more important as a means of controlling the movement and activities of the Muslim population. Chapter 2 discussed how suspicions about a Mudejar fifth column prompted the king to recommend stricter control of Mudejar arms-bearing and to curtail the granting of travel licenses. Because most mendicants and many prostitutes were itinerant, the demand that they bear licenses allowed for some surveillance of transient Muslims. It is not surprising that the bailiff general expressed the most concern about unlicensed Muslim beggars and prostitutes during the years 1499–1503, when revolts in Granada and the resultant Mudejar fears and attempted
flight created a potentially explosive state of affairs. Like the besant , these licenses were more important for what they signified—in this case, a restriction of the Muslims' freedom of movement and a basic royal mistrust of Mudejar intentions—than for the revenue they brought to the king.
The royal monopoly of utilities providing vital community services assured the Crown a steady flow of annual income. The Crown controlled
butcher shops (carnicerías ), ovens, mills, baths, taverns, and a variety of other services, such as tanneries and dyeworks. Generally, the local bailiffs rented out these utilities in public auction to the highest bidder, Christian, Muslim, or Jew. The lessee gave the Crown a fixed annual rent derived from what he earned from control of the utility. The rental of these utilities in public auction meant that the rents were subject to fluctuations consonant with the realities of the marketplace and the prevailing prices of commodities.
Few utilities were specifically linked to Muslim communities as such. The size of an aljama and the clauses of its foundation charter determined whether it need have, for instance, its own special oven. To take another example, the prevalence of Muslim artisans in certain crafts, such as saddlemaking or dyeing, resulted in the consistent Muslim rental of the local saddleworks and dyeworks, which were perhaps also attached to the morerías . However, on account of Islamic and Jewish dietary laws, quite similar in many details, it was necessary for Muslims and Jews to have their own butcher shops. It seems that every Mudejar community had this privilege, which, as Burns points out, may be equated with an extension of religious privileges. In Castellón de la Plana the Muslims shared a butcher shop with the Jews.
Despite the religious complications implied in the rental of a Muslim butcher shop to a Christian, it was an established practice and seems to have raised no complaint from Mudejar leaders. In Alcira and Játiva Christians and Muslims alternated in their rental of the Muslim butcheries, depending on who could offer the highest bid. The butcher shop of the new morería of Castellón de Játiva was the one exception to the usual rental arrangements. There Fernando conceded to Joan Bleda, already the concessionaire of the Christian butcheries, the Muslim butchery perpetually and in enfiteusis, at an annual rent of one morabatí . In any case, whoever the lessee or concessionaire, the butcher who actually slaughtered the meat had to be a Muslim. Thus, in the terms of the concession of the Muslim butcher shop to Joan Bleda it was stipulated "let its butcher be a Sarracen and not a Christian." Presumably the lessees either sublet the butcheries to Muslim butchers or paid them a salary. Unfortunately, the documentation, concerned mainly with the rents accruing to the royal treasury, reveals next to nothing on Muslim butchers and their arrangements with the lessees. One glimpse is offered in the plea of Joan Lopiç, a merchant and lessee of the Muslim butcher shop of Játiva, to whom the Muslim butcher, al-Ayeret, owed 262s 6d for the sheep slaughtered in the butcher shop. Apparently the lessee had furnished the animals necessary for the aljama's consumption, and the butcher, who slaughtered and sold the meat, was expected to reimburse the lessee from the proceeds. The absence of Mudejar grievances
on this score suggests that Muslim butchers consistently functioned as the all-important intermediaries between lessees and Muslim consumers.
Crown supervision extended beyond rental of the butcher shop to ensuring that the abattoir was provisioned with sufficient livestock—sheep, goats, and beef cattle—to meet the demands of local consumption. Crown pasture land was therefore allotted for grazing the flocks of the royal butcheries; these flocks were exempted from payment of the herbatge , a tax on the use of Crown pastures. The Crown sometimes stipulated precisely how many head of livestock the lessee ought to provide. In Castellón de Játiva the Christian butcher shop was to be furnished with 250 head, and the Muslim butcher shop with 150, although Joan Bleda, the concessionaire, later complained that the bailiff was forcing him to have slaughtered for the Muslims an excessive amount of meat, much of which was left to rot in the summer sun. One clause of the lease of Joan Sancho stated that if he did not provide sufficient livestock for Játiva's Muslim butcher shop the Muslims could slaughter meat in the Crown abattoir for themselves. Neither royal provisions nor leases specify the sale price of meat, nor do they suggest that Muslims were charged more for their meat. Lessees were admonished only to sell the meat at "accustomed prices," which were set more by the local market than by royal guidelines. There is no evidence indicating that lessees engaged in any price speculation regarded by aljamas as immoderate or burdensome.
Apart from the renting of butcheries, the Crown also collected a sales tax on each pound of meat, known as the sisa del carn (sisas were also imposed on bread, wine, and other essential commodities). Information from Gandía (1492) indicates that the sisa paid there was 1s per pound of billy-goat and ram, 9d per pound of she-goat and ewe, and 4s 6d per pound of beef. The rates of the sales tax in Murviedro (1483) were only half as high as those paid in Gandía. The explanation for the difference in sisa rates lies in the Crown's concession of the right to collect the sises to many municipal governments, which were then able to establish the local rates. The aljama of Játiva paid the bailiff to farm out the sales tax collected in its butcher shop and market. Leaving the collection of the sales tax in the hands of municipal governments created problems, for at times the jurates arbitrarily raised the sales tax rates, prompting resistance from lords with lands within the general limits of Gandía and from the aljama of Murviedro. In Castellón de la Plana the jurates were not allowed to exact the sisa from the local Muslims, which induced them to prohibit Christians from purchasing meat in the Muslim butcher shop where they could escape the sales tax.
Because the butcheries provided such an essential commodity, they
were lucrative utilities. The almost unique restriction of their services to the members of a particular aljama rendered the butcheries a highly appropriate and efficient means of aiding an aljama in financial straits, without affecting the rest of the local economy. Since 1376 the aljama of Valencia had enjoyed the privilege of renting its own butcher shop and retaining the proceeds from the rental to defray its own expenses. Such revenue was so crucial to the aljama's finances after 1455 that when the guild of Christian butchers attempted to place restrictions on the Muslim butcher shop's sale of meat, the aljama pleaded that it did not have any "other substance or property with which to pay the royal taxes and rents that it is ordinarily obliged to pay." The aljama of Daroca (Aragon) benefited from a like royal concession, and it was allowed to retain the sales tax collected in its butcher shop as well. The Crown met the aljama of Játiva halfway: the lessee paid half the butchery rent to the Crown and half to the aljama's treasurer.
Some Muslims tried to evade the Crown's close supervision of the sale of meat by slaughtering meat outside of the Muslim butcheries, sometimes in Christian butcheries, and then selling it at more competitive prices. Mahomat Paziar, Alcira's amin[*] , whose son was renting the butcher shop, and the aljama of Daroca both complained about the losses they were sustaining from the activities of these "free-lance" butchers.
Another important royal monopoly related specifically to the Mude-jars was the institution of the alfondech or fonduk. Described in the documentation as a "hospitium maurorum," and located within the confines of the morería , the fonduk functioned as an inn for Muslim travelers and merchants, and, almost invariably, as a center for Muslim prostitution. As suggested in chapter 1, the fonduk was an adjunct to a royal policy of social segregation. That a fonduk was created in the fledgling morería of Castellón de Játiva suggests that all other royal morerías had one. However, perhaps only the fonduk in Valencia bore any resemblance to the thirteenth-century institution described by Burns as "at once a public inn, goods depository, mail drop, center for any notarial or customs services, and exhibit hall ... it could elaborate into a home-away-from-home." The continued success of Valencia's fonduk lay in the capital's preeminent role in the kingdom, and in the entire Crown of Aragon, as a center of domestic and international commerce, and as the arrival and embarkation point of the Venetian galleys that carried Maghriban merchants and their cargoes. The small size of Valencia's aljama should not blind one to the fact that through the city there traversed a large transient Muslim population, Valencian and foreigner, slave and free. The fonduk was leased for terms of two to four years, with the annual rent steadily increasing from 1,000s (1479–1483) to
3,000s (1498–1502). Only in 1490, on account of a plague that discouraged Muslims and Jews from traveling to the capital, did the fonduk suffer. Still, the lodging of Muslims in other hostels was a consistent problem, and Diego de Soria, the lessee in 1490, complained that the bailiff general was protecting an innkeeper who had Mudejars from Arevalo (Castile) as guests. Seigneurial Muslims were exempted, at least temporarily, from the necessity of lodging in the royal fonduk.
Allied to the leasing of Valencia's fonduk, and likewise sustained by the large number of Muslims visiting the capital, was the rental of an office unique to the capital, that: of the basto (i.e., "baton," symbolic of the possession of the office and its policing function) or guard of the bailiwick of the morería . This office, rented to Joan de Vich (1481–1488) and to his son Joan after his death, had little to do with the normal duties of a local bailiff, which in Valencia were incumbent on the resident bailiff general. Rather, the basto exercised a supervisory and policing function in the morería . He managed the royal tavern and bordello, regulated the practice of prostitution in the morería , and collected the required tax (dret de tarquena ) from the Muslim prostitutes or their pimps. He also saw to it that Muslims did not bear arms in the morería , travel at night without a lamp, gamble, drink wine outside the royal tavern, or dress in excessive finery, all infractions being punishable by fine. The basto and the lessee of the fonduk, or alfondeguer , likely worked closely together, since the guests of the fonduk might well have indulged in the pleasures of the tavern and bordello.
In the other royal towns the offices of the alfondeguer and basto were combined in the person of the former. Wine, if it was drunk anywhere in the morerías , was most likely served in the fonduks. In Zaragoza the fonduk also housed the morerío 's jail, and the alfondeguer served as its jailer. Gambling seems to have been forbidden throughout the kingdom, so that the fonduks were freed of this vice. The prominence royal leases give to prostitution as a source of income for the fonduks' concessionaires indicates that most fonduks were quasi-bordellos where the alfondeguers were responsible for collecting the tarquena from the prostitutes. In contrast to its firm stand against gambling, the Crown seems to have concluded that prostitution could be more effectively regulated than eradicated, and, as was so often the case, regulation translated into fiscal profits. Every Muslim prostitute in the kingdom had to purchase from the bailiff general for 18s a license to ply her trade.
The fonduks of Alcira and Játiva brought little revenue to the Crown. In 1479 a member of the important Mudejar family of Paziar purchased the building housing the fonduk of Alcira so that he could provide a "genteel home" for his newlywed son. The bailiff and aljama concurred on this, feeling that Paziar's remodeling of the house would help to
beautify the morería . The resultant problem was that another house for the permanent establishment of a fonduk could not be found, inasmuch as none of the local Muslims were interested in selling. It seems that for most of Fernando's reign Alcira's morería lacked a fonduk, although occasionally individuals were paid for the use of their home for this purpose.
Játiva's fonduk was in a state of considerable disrepair, and desultory efforts were made to refurbish it, even constructing special rooms for the prostitutes. Although Muslim saddlers rented a part of the fonduk as a shop, few were willing to rent it for its intended purpose. The royal prohibition against gambling seems to have taken all life out of the place, and the tax records state that the prohibition was, indeed, the cause for the reluctance of potential lessees. Even when lessees were found, the fonduk, because it attracted so much lowlife, did more harm than good. In 1495 the aljama complained that Christian youths were sneaking into the fonduk through a window and spending the night in the morería . Worse still, the wife of the Christian lessee was traipsing about "dishonestly dressed" and tempting Muslim youths. Perhaps the aljamas of Játiva and Alcira reasoned that they were well rid of such riffraff as were associated with the fonduks; Muslim visitors could easily be lodged in someone's home.
Public baths, necessary for ritual ablutions and purification and essential as centers of social intercourse, were fixtures in the life of most medieval Muslim communities. Islamic Valencian towns had been no exception, and presumably most Mudejar aljamas continued to support baths, however modest or elaborate. By Fernando's reign Mudejar baths had ceased to be a source of Crown income. Probably the Crown had ceded to each aljama control over its own bath. As in the case of the butcher shops, such concessions would have aided the aljamas in attaining or maintaining solvency. The Mudejar bath of Játiva, however, was an exception and remained a Crown monopoly. Because the aljama of Játiva was by far the largest in the kingdom, the revenues accruing from its Mudejar taxes and from the rental of its morería utilities were substantial when those from many smaller aljamas were negligible. Consequently, the Crown was loath to alienate its monopoly over any of the utilities servicing the aljama of Játiva. Játiva's Mudejar bath was always leased to Muslims at an annual rent ranging from 640s to 1,100s. On the question of whether Jews might use the Muslim baths, Fernando vacillated. First, in 1488, he commanded that the Muslim aljama must permit the Jews to have access to the baths, otherwise royal rents would decrease. Two years later he changed his mind and forbade such contact between Jews and Muslims in the baths, deeming it "pernicious," as he perhaps viewed the exposure of anyone to Judaism at this juncture.
In terms of the pervasiveness of the royal monopoly, the situation of Mudejar ovens was similar to that of the baths. In the kingdom of Valencia only the two ovens of the morería of Játiva—the forn maior (large oven) and the forn menor (small oven)—were leased by the Crown, and for considerable rents. Inasmuch as communal ovens served individual neighborhoods, it seems likely that most other morerías had their own ovens, although, unlike the Jews with their baking of matzoh, Muslim baking had no ritual significance. Just as the Christians of Mislata baked their bread in the Muslims' oven, it may be that smaller aljamas made use of Christian ovens. In 1496 two of Murviedro's ovens were rented by Muslims. In Catalonia, the morerías of Tortosa and Lérida both had ovens, the rent from the former going toward the support of the local castle.
The Crown also had a monopoly over mills, essential appurtenances to agricultural and industrial life. Mudejars were allowed to grind their wheat and barley wherever they wished. Apparently, Fernando had followed the bailiff general's advice and discarded his plan to construct in Játiva one royal mill that all of the aljama's Muslims would have to use. In every town Mudejars were active as lessees of royal mills. The morería of Játiva had its own olive mill or press (almacera ) which was rented from the Crown and served the needs of Muslims bringing in their produce from nearby olive orchards. The Mudejars of Játiva continued to participate in the local paper industry, and a paper mill was leased to them.
The activity of Mudejar artisans in certain local crafts and industries allowed the Crown to maintain a monopoly over certain workshops probably located within or adjacent to the morerías . In Alcira Muslim saddlers rented the saddleworks from the Crown, as did Muslim dyers the dyeworks of Murviedro. Játiva's morería had a much larger industrial complex, its Muslims renting saddleworks, dyeworks, a tannery, and a workshop devoted to the fabrication of soap. Whatever success the king had in augmenting the populations of his morerías might have enhanced Mudejar participation in local industries monopolized by the Crown, thereby fueling the local economy and perhaps raising the rents of industrial workshops.
On account of its large size, the morería of Játiva had its own marketplace or suq (Catalan açoch ), and, unlike the other royal morerías , its own mustaçaff (or çalmedina) , who served as inspector of the market and of its weights and measures. Municipal officials, however, challenged the aljama's right to appoint its own mustaçaff . In any case, Játiva's aljama was unique in leasing from the Crown its market as well as the weights-and-measures service (pes e açoch ). The lessees were individual Mudejars and the rent was understandably steep, ranging from 1,060s to 2,000s per year.
The rents of some Crown utilities, particularly those in Játiva, increased markedly, although not necessarily consistently, over the course of Fernando's reign. The raising of rents was stimulated by the leasing of utilities to the highest bidder. In Játiva the Crown offered further incentive by, in effect, sharing the increased profits with the lessee, who was remunerated with a percentage—approximately 10 to 15 percent—of the difference between the current rent and that of the previous year. The lessee's bid was likely based on an informed prediction of the size of the clientele having recourse to the utility's services and of the fee that could be charged to the consumer for use of those services. Increases in the size of local populations would have encouraged higher bids.
Besides acting as consumers and lessees (e.g., table 11), Mudejars played another important role with respect to Crown utilities by providing the skilled labor necessary for their maintenance or improvement. In some cases the lessees themselves effected the improvements, as did the saddlers renting the saddieworks of Alcira. It was more usually the case that Muslim carpenters and masons maintained the serviceability of royal ovens, baths, fonduks, mills, and official market scales. Unskilled labor was also needed for the procurement and transport of materials, such as wood, sand, and stone. Thus, around the Crown utilities, providing essential services to the Mudejar populace and needed revenue to the king, there developed a community of interests, involving king, lessee, consumer, and laborer. (See tables 12–14 for further listings of Crown revenue.)
The king also exercised direct lordship over certain houses and lands in royal towns that were rented to Mudejars. The rents received from Mudejar lessees were negligible, ranging from 2s to 5s per year for a house, and from 2s to 12s per year for land. In Alcira, which had the largest number of Mudejars leasing homes and land from the Crown, the aggregate of rents never amounted to more than 104s 6d in any one year. Muslim lessees were allowed to sell the rented property to either Muslim or Christian buyers, although there was a sales tax, called the lluisme , collected from the vendor, which amounted to 10 percent of the sale price. The lluisme was paid by both Muslim and Christian vendors.
Cena, Peyta , Tithes, and Other Taxes
Muslims, Christians, and Jews each year paid regular taxes known as cena and peyta . The cena originated as a feudal duty of hospitality paid by each town on the visit of the itinerant royal court, and was more
properly known as the cena de presencia . When the court became more stationary a cena de absencia was levied, which evolved into a fixed annual tribute, termed variously as cena de absencia, cena reyal , or simply cena . The aljama of Játiva paid a cena of 600s per year. The tax lists for the aljama of Alcira have no entry for the cena , but occasionally the peyta entry is written as peyta e cena or just cena , which, if not merely a scribal error, suggests that the aliama's peyta payment comprised both peyta and cena . Before 1455 the aljama of Valencia had paid 100s per year for the cena . Regarding the other aljamas in the kingdom, the scribes included their cena contributions with those of the Christians in the account books.
In the kingdom of Aragon and Catalonia Fernando was avid to collect the cena , particularly in Catalonia, where, as a result of the civil war, the cena had not been paid during the years 1461–1479. All previous
remissions conceded by Juan II were nullified, despite the objections of the Catalan Muslim and Jewish aljamas. The Aragonese and Catalans were also obliged to pay separately the cena de primogenito , which Fernando collected on behalf of the princes Juan and Miguel. The annual cena rate for most Muslim aljamas of Aragon-Catalonia (the Jews' rates were usually higher) was 33s 4d, although the Muslims of Tortosa paid twice as much.
It is extremely difficult to pinpoint exactly what was meant by the term peyta . Leopoldo Piles Ros maintains that in the kingdom of Valencia the peyta was an annual levy on all property-holders which included the cena del rey o primogenito , and was applicable toward the payment of the salaries of royal justices, jurates, and other officials, and toward the defraying of other royal expenses. This view is substantiated by the complaint made by the lord of Gilet "on account of some peytes that the
jurates and universitas of the said town of Murviedro are violently attempting to impose on certain lands possessed by some Sarracen vassals of the said noble." It also helps to explain why the scribes at times recorded the aljama of Alcira's payment of the peyta as including the cena . Indeed, in Valencia the cena is only infrequently mentioned as a separate tax and usually seems to have been regarded as a part of the more amorphous peyta . The Mudejars of most royal towns paid their peyta along with the local Christians. Thus, the Muslims of Onda were described as paying all the "peytes and contributions" that the Christians of the town were accustomed to pay, while the charter founding the new aljama of Castellón de Játiva obliged it to contribute along with the Christians to the payment of the "peytes, sises , and other impositions." Before 1455 the aljama of Valencia had paid an annual peyta of 250s, whereas during Fernando's reign only the aljama of Alcira paid its 100s peyta separately from the Christians. The singularity of this arrangement was conducive to conflict between Alcira's jurates and the aljama, for the jurates insisted on trying to collect the peyta from the aljama as was the practice in other towns.
In Aragon-Catalonia the peyta had a somewhat different significance. There, as Macho y Ortega suggests, the peyta became by the fifteenth
century a lump-sum substitute for the payment of a wide array of taxes. The high annual peyta rates burdening the Arago-Catalan aljamas support this interpretation. The aljama of Tortosa was obliged to pay a peyta of 160 pounds (3,200s), while those of Borja and Daroca had to pay 3,000s and 700s, respectively. Given the precarious financial state of these aljamas, it is difficult to see how they could have paid any other taxes beyond these peytes , which alone were almost insupportable.
Another regular tax, less burdensome than the cena and peyta , was the morabatí . This tax, granted to Jaime I (1266) in exchange for a royal promise never to tamper with the coinage, had a set rate of one morabatí (7s) and was to be collected every seventh year from each household, of whatever faith, owning property worth fifteen or more morabatins . Like the peyta , it was, in effect, a form of property tax. By the fourteenth century it was not collected at regular seven-year intervals, but often more frequently. However, during Fernando's reign greater regularity in collection was established; the morabatí was exacted every six years, in 1481, 1487, 1493, and 1499. In Aragon the morabatí was collected only in the region of Huesca.
A fairly lucrative source of revenue for the king was the share he received from the inheritances of royal Mudejar vassals. The records neither state explicitly what percentage of the deceased's property normally constituted the Crown's share nor note the total value of the property, from which the portion accruing to the Crown could be calculated. In fact, the Crown bureaucracy dealt with cases of Mudejar inheritance on an ad hoc basis, the royal portion being exacted without fail for a variety of reasons, and not only from those Muslims who died intestate and without legitimate heirs. Rubrics such as the one found in the records of the bailiff of Onda—"Revenues from [the inheritances of] the Moors and Mooresses who died without heirs, of which part goes to the lord king"—are misleading. Mahomat Hubaydal of Onda had to render to the Crown and to the Order of Montesa, which exercised lordship over Onda, 92s 10d from the inheritance left to him by his father. After the death of Abdurrazmen Mascor, the faqih[ *] of Valencia, the bailiff general noted that the "king has succeeded to a certain portion of the said inheritance of the said faqih[*] ," and then went on to instruct the procurator of the Vail de Uxó to allow the wife, brother, and two sisters of Mascor to collect the property left by the deceased in the valley. Indeed, the taking of a royal share from the estates of deceased Mudejars was so established a practice that the aljama of Játiva simply paid an annual inheritance tax of 400s, in lieu of Crown interference in every inheritance case.
Nevertheless, within the limitations of a system in which the fiscal demands of an overarching Christian bureaucracy meshed with the
Mudejar administration of civil affairs in accordance with the Shariah, the Islamic laws of inheritance were largely respected. For instance, so long as they were royal vassals, the siblings and other relatives of the Mudejar who died intestate and childless were allowed to divide the inheritance among themselves (subtracting, of course, the royal share), as the Qur'an[*] required. Operative, in effect, was a two-tiered process. At one level the royal qadi[*] adjudicated the division of the inheritance between the legitimate heirs as the will of the deceased and the Shariah demanded. This entailed the resolution of any attendant complications or litigation, such as ensuring that Mudejar widows were put in possession of their bridewealth before their husband's property was divided. In one case the qadi had to effect a compromise between the brother and the husband of a deceased woman before the king could receive his portion of the inheritance. The royal qadi 's participation, noted by the scribes in the records of almost every inheritance case, was crucial for two reasons. First, the qadi guaranteed that the Shariah was observed, thereby allaying potential Mudejar grievances that the Crown was excessively encroaching upon their legal autonomy. As a key figure in the kingdom's bureaucracy working closely with the bailiff general, the qadi could enlist the executive power of the latter to ensure that Mudejar wills were properly executed. With the counsel of the lieutenant qadi , the lieutenant bailiff general instructed the bailiff of Murviedro to protect the rights of the sisters Fatima and Mariem to a carob orchard bequeathed to them by their father, Mahomat Nayna. Second, while upholding the Shariah, the qadi also had the king's interests in mind, so that both royal Muslim heirs and the king received their due. When the faqih[*] of Petrés ruled on the division of the property left by a Mudejar woman of Murviedro, it was deemed detrimental to the royal revenues and to the qadi 's prerogatives, for a seigneurial faqih was not about to trouble himself over whether the Crown received its portion.
Some marginal notes of the scribe of the Maestre Racional are quite revealing as to the complexity of procedure in Mudejar inheritance cases, involving first the Islamic-Arabic execution of the will and then the Christian-Romance collection and recording of the Crown's share. Clearly, the qadi was the pivotal figure, attending to both Mudejar and Crown interests. The scribe begins by stating that the figures he is recording were taken from a Romance translation of an Arabic "act of the inventory of the property and adjudication of the said inheritance carried out by the said qadi ." He then carefully notes the share of the inheritance to be collected by the Crown:
certain deductions having been made, there remain for division from the value of the property 255 pounds 5s, of which the part that pertains to the
lord king—that is, the portion of the brother of the said Fatima [the deceased] who is not a vassal of the lord king—is only 28 pounds 7s 2d, since all the rest pertains to Abdalla Perpiu—one third by legacy—and to the husband, and to the mother, and to the sister of the said Fatima.
These marginalia also show one of the ways by which the Crown, on the second level of inheritance procedure, could come into possession of a sometimes substantial portion of the inheritance, that is, when the heir of a royal vassal was himself not a royal vassal. This contradicted a provision of Pedro IV (1337), which allowed children and relatives who were seigneurial vassals to inherit the property of royal Mudejar vassals, and vice versa. However, this provision seems to have had little practical effect, or at best for only a short time, since by 1363 Pedro himself no longer observed it. Certainly by the fifteenth century the general rule was that only royal vassals could succeed to the property of royal vassals. This helped to maintain the integrity of the royal patrimony. Therefore, the sister-in-law of Mahomat Fandaig, a seigneurial vassal, was denied access to the property of her deceased sister, a royal vassal in Valencia. Actually, with respect to the aljama of Valencia, the Crown had taken matters one step further: only royal vassals residing in the city had inheritance rights. Çahat Alatar forfeited his portion of his dead brother's property to the king because he lived outside of the city.
The obverse of the Crown's exacting supervision of the inheritances of its own vassals was its, and its vassals', forfeiture of any claims to the estates of seigneurial Muslims. Valencian patterns of land tenure could, however, complicate matters somewhat. For instance, when the bailiff of Villarreal notified the bailiff general that a seigneurial Muslim of Bechí, who had died intestate and childless, happened to have property in Villarreal, he was ordered to confiscate the property on behalf of the king.
The Crown demanded its due from even the most meager inheritances. Two Muslim widowers of Castellón de la Plana each paid 50s from the estates of their wives, who, it seems, had left them next to nothing. However exacting, even avid, royal bureaucrats were in their administration of Mudejar estates, their actions drew no protests from Mudejars. No doubt the scrupulousness of the qadi[*] in handling inheritances within the framework of the Shariah softened the impact of Christian bureaucratic intrusions in a sensitive area of family law. Moreover, Fernando's reign was no different in this respect from those of his predecessors. It may be that Játiva's aljama fared best. By paying a simple inheritance tax its members were irritated less by a grasping Christian bureaucracy, and, given the size of its population, 400s per year was probably cheaper in the long term.
Through an array of tariffs, tolls, and taxes the Crown was able to derive revenue from the commercial, agricultural, and pastoral activities of Muslim and Christian alike. These taxes were not too burdensome, for the king did not wish to depress the economy by discouraging the enterprise of his subjects. Many of these tariffs and tolls were collected at the kingdom's borders, on royal roads, and in the markets of royal towns, and were, therefore, paid by both royal and seigneurial vassals, whose marketing of crops, pasturing of flocks, and peddling often took them beyond the confines of their respective hamlets and towns.
The peatge was a transit duty on commercial use of the roads, collected in each locality from "all the persons who enter, pass through, or sell livestock and other merchandise." For instance, Muslims of Ribarroja bringing goats into the kingdom from Castile had to pay the peatge , as did the vassals of barons who herded their livestock into the district of Játiva, although only once per year and not every time their flocks crossed over into royal lands. It was not unusual for certain baronies and their vassals to have franquesa , or exemption, from the payment of the peatge and similar tolls. Barons were often moved to complain when collectors of the peatge exacted tolls from their exempt vassals. During Fernando's reign additional exemptions were conceded only to certain Muslims of the morería of Valencia, probably as a means of aiding individual members of a financially prostrate aljama. In contrast, Fernando denied exemptions to Granadan Muslims settling in communities where the financial situation was less dire.
Other taxes affecting merchants and shepherds were the lleuda , a tariff imposed on goods imported into major towns and cities; the quema , a tariff on goods imported from Castile; the portatge , a bridge toll; the herbatge , a grazing fee collected for the use of certain pastures; and the montatge , a sheepwalk toll. Some Mudejars were involved in the royal collection machinery, such as Amet Samaris, who was appointed custodian of the quema in the district of Aspe.
The Crown exercised a monopoly over the production and sale of salt. Some Valencians found royal control over access to this essential commodity particularly irksome, and so attempted to obtain it fraudulently or elsewhere. The lessees of the royal saltworks of Játiva were often immersed in litigation with those they accused of procuring salt fraudulently, among whom were Muslims of Antella and the Vall de Serra. In 1503 the bailiff general considered it a special problem that Mudejars "use other salt [sal estranya ] that is not from the monopolies of the lord king." Nevertheless, at the same time Muslims labored in salt production on behalf of the king, and also turn up as agents for Játiva's saltworks.
Muslims and Christians holding lands in territories under the direct
lordship of the king all had to pay the terç de delme , that is, one-third of one-tenth (i.e., 3.33 percent) of their produce of whatever sort. The terç de delme originated in the crusader's patronage right by which King Jaime I had retained for the Crown one-third of the ecclesiastical tithe, leaving the other two-thirds to the Church. As was the case with most other taxes, the terçes de delme were farmed out under contract to the highest bidder. In Alcira Mudejars were prominent as lessees of the terçes of local collectories (or tax-collection districts).
Regarding the other two-thirds of the tithe owed to the Church, the situation was somewhat more complex. Theoretically, Mudejars were not liable to pay ecclesiastical tithes and first-fruits for lands that had always been held by Muslims; the obligation was incumbent only on those lands that Muslims had acquired from Christians. It seems, however, that by the late fifteenth century most, if not all, Mudejars farming on royal land were paying tithes. A royal order treating the city of Valencia with its district and huerta states quite clearly that all persons "of whatever law [i.e., religion], status, or condition" must give one-third of the tithe to the Crown and the other two-thirds to the episcopal official. Implicit in the complaint of the bishop and chapter of Cartagena, that Muslims and Christians of Agost were evading payment of the tithe by threshing their wheat outside of Agost where the tithe collector could not find them, is the assumption that farmers of both faiths normally paid tithes. Royal proclamations against such tithe evasion were to be posted throughout the diocese of Cartagena. It is understandable how Mudejar liability to pay tithes had become the norm. Considering the not infrequent sale of Christian land to Muslims, and the Muslims' ability to change vassalage, which often entailed the purchase or rental of new land, the amount of property held by Muslims since time immemorial must have steadily diminished. Most seigneurial Muslims probably paid the tithe only indirectly, the lord making the direct payment from the rents he received from his vassals. Litigation surrounding Valencian Mudejar liability to tithes is, in contrast to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, conspicuously absent.
Quite different from the apparent normalcy prevailing in Valencia, in the kingdom of Aragon the tithe question continued to create considerable tension between the Church and the Mudejars and their royal and seigneurial lords. The bishop and chapter of Tarazona were most aggressive in the campaign to exact tithes from Mudejars. In 1479 they reached an agreement with the lord and aljama of Conchiellos, whereby the Muslims cultivating lands in the huerta and mountains of Tarazona, and in Conchiellos itself, would pay tithes and first-fruits; as for those lands immemorially Muslim (moriegas ), the lord would pay their tithes. Later, the chapter was engaged in a tithe litigation with the
aljamas of Torrellas and Santa Cruz. The most difficult suit pitted the chapter against the aljama of Borja. The chapter complained to the king in 1489 that Borja's Muslims refused to pay their tithes "and this not only for their properties which were from Moors, but even for those which have been of Christians and have come to them." The canons argued that by virtue of provisions of Queen María and of a papal bull they had the right to collect these tithes, but that the aljama had enlisted the support of the Justice of Aragon against them. Eleven years later the suit was still unresolved, and Fernando had to reprimand sharply the bishop and the chapter for decreeing an interdict in Borja against the local Muslims. Even more serious was the attempt of the archbishop of Zaragoza to obtain from the pope a bull authorizing the Aragonese clergy to collect tithes from the Muslim vassals of all barons. Fernando felt compelled to foil the archbishop's plan. It was probably a desire to avoid provoking an already uncooperative Aragonese nobility that moved the king to act decisively.
Extraordinary Taxes and Aljama Finance
In the realm of regular taxation royal policy was only mildly discriminatory against the Mudejars. Muslims and Christians both paid for the use of utilities, and both were liable to the annual peyta and cena and the commercial tariffs and agricultural tithes. That Muslim and Christian taxpayers are often indistinguishable in royal account books, and that Muslims participated freely in the collection machinery as lessees of utilities and tithe collectories indicates a rough parity of Muslim and Christian before the fiscal bureaucracy. The annual payment of the besant singled out the Muslims, although the tax had greater significance as a symbol of the Mudejars' subject status than as a source of royal revenue. The share of Mudejar inheritances demanded by the Crown was another expression of its ultimate authority over a conquered population and its property.
The extent of the religious minorities' fiscal servitude to the Crown becomes clear only upon consideration of the extraordinary taxes that burdened them. Fernando's descriptions of the Mudejars as "our coffers" and "servants of our chamber" were not empty rhetoric but were firmly rooted in the king's understanding that he could freely impose new taxes—servicios graciosos or donativos —on his Muslim (and Jewish) subjects with or without their consent. Whereas the local laws of his individual kingdoms limited the demands Fernando could make on his Christian subjects, and the representative Cortes at times rejected these
demands outright, there were not institutional restraints on his taxation of the Mudejars. That the Muslims' very raison d'être in a Christian society was founded on their economic usefulness had as its logical conclusion a royal policy that would seek from them maximum fiscal benefits. Long-term fiscal considerations, however, advised against rapacity in the short term, for a consistent and reliable income from the aljamas was the preferable state of affairs. Nevertheless, political and economic urgencies sometimes resulted in a less cautionary policy, with the consequence that aljamas were financially devastated by extraordinary royal exactions. Aljamas were often forced to borrow funds in order to meet the Crown's demands, and this, combined with subsequent interest payments and regular taxes, could cripple an aljama's finances, leaving it in a state of indebtedness for years at a time. Aljamas that were not deep "in the red" struggled to maintain solvency. The wealth of individual Mudejars notwithstanding, the financial troubles of Muslim communities were symptomatic of their corporate dependence on the needs of the royal treasury.
Fernando's numerous military campaigns and foreign adventures were a constant drain on the resources of the royal treasury, and it was necessary to tap all available sources of funds. The royal Muslim aljamas of the kingdom of Valencia were, of course, called on to contribute what they could, although they were burdened less frequently by royal servicios than were the aljamas of Aragon. Considering the greater prosperity of the kingdom of Valencia and the greater financial stability of its Muslim aljamas, the heavier taxation of the Aragonese aljamas seems a bit illogical. However, the determinant of royal fiscal policy vis-à-vis the Mudejars was not so much what the aljamas could give—as for what they would give, they had little choice—as what the Christians and their Cortes were able and willing to concede. It seems that the number of extraordinary taxes exacted from the aljamas of a particular kingdom related inversely to the amount of funds provided by the Christians of that kingdom. In other words, what Fernando could not procure from the kingdom as a whole he tried to compensate for with servicios imposed on royal aljamas. The kingdom of Valencia, particularly its capital city, granted to the king a number of generous "aids," whereas the kingdom of Aragon, less wealthy than Valencia, exceedingly parochial in its interests, and highly uncooperative, gave much less toward royal enterprises, conceding funds only for the campaigns to recover Roussillon, and for those in Navarre and, belatedly, in North Africa (1510).
One extraordinary tax collected from all of Fernando's subjects, Muslim, Christian, and Jew, in all of his kingdoms was the maridatge , used to defray the expenses of the weddings of the king's children. The
maridatge was imposed four times, on the occasion of the marriages of the Infantas Isabel (1491), Juana (1496), Maria (1500), and Caterina (1502). The amount of maridatge collected from each community was determined by the number of its households and its wealth. Judging by the maridatges paid by Muslim aljamas in Valencia on the occasion of the marriage of Juan II's daughter Elionor (1477), the maridatge could be quite burdensome. At that time the aljama of Játiva contributed 4000s, that of Alcira 220s, and a large seigneurial aljama like that of Bétera 550s. The imposition of the maridatge was capable of disrupting an aljama's precarious financial affairs. Thus, in 1502 the aljama of Castellón de la Plana was compelled to take out a loan in order to do its part for the weddings of María and Caterina.
Apart from the maridatges the Valencian aljamas were obliged to contribute other servicios . Still pending from the previous reign was a servicio of 40,000s which the military estate had promised Juan II in 1463. Fernando ordered that this sum be collected from the nobles and from the universitates and aljamas of their Christian and Muslim vassals. In 1482 the Muslim aljamas were asked to make a donation (donatiu ) of 15,041s on the occasion of Queen Isabel's entry into the kingdom. The sums paid by certain aljamas were 3,900s by that of Paterna, 260s by that of Castellón de la Plana, 650s by that of Monforte, and 91s by that of Murviedro. In 1485, when the king needed further funding to press his campaign against Granada, he turned to his Muslim and Jewish vassals. The Jews of Murviedro and the Muslim aljamas, particularly that of Játiva, on account of its size and relative wealth, were to give to the king as large a servicio as they could afford. The convoking of the Corts in Orihuela in 1488 occasioned another servicio to which the entire kingdom was liable. The aljama of Alcira alone was required to pay 40 pounds.
For the kingdom of Aragon the list of servicios demanded of its Muslim and Jewish aljamas was considerably longer, although, as we shall see below, the resources at their disposal to pay them were, in the case of the Muslims, decidedly less. In 1481 all Muslim and Jewish aljamas were asked to provide a servicio of an unspecified sum. In 1484 all royal Muslims were expected to contribute as much as they could spare to the king's effort to capture Roussillon. Furthermore, from 1484 through 1487 the Jews and Muslims were paying "some quantities" for the Granadan campaigns, when, in contrast, the Cortes of Aragon refused to provide aid for a royal enterprise so far beyond the kingdom's frontiers. In 1494 and 1495 the Mudejars were asked to pay still more servicios in amounts potentially devastating for aljama finances. The king sought 8,000s from the aljama of Zaragoza and 6,000s from that of
Borja, although these sums perforce were reduced to 6,000s and 5,400s, respectively.
On two occasions Fernando displayed a definite canniness in the tack he took when demanding servicios from the Mudejars. In Aragon in 1484 and again in Valencia in 1485, instead of requesting lump sums from each aljama, the king ordered his officials to obtain from individual Muslims servicios consonant with their personal wealth. Because aljamas normally divided servicio payments equally, the inability of impoverished Muslim families to contribute reduced the servicio the aljama could offer, even if the aggregate wealth of aljama members could well support the full servicio requested. By taxing Muslims on an individual basis Fernando spared the poor, many of whom would not have paid in any case, and exacted from the wealthier families as much as possible and likely much more than these families would have otherwise contributed. Consequently, the king probably received via individual assessment a larger total servicio . Furthermore, by approaching Muslim families individually, much of the wrangling and quarreling that plagued aljamas in their own internal tax collection was avoided. When the collection of lump servicios was left to aljama officials some Muslims were emboldened to avoid payment, claiming that they possessed a royal exemption, or, conversely, aljama officials might create tension by taxing certain families in excess. However, individual Muslim families were less likely to evade the royal bureaucracy, and, since with individual assessment the equal apportionment of servicio contributions per household was rendered inoperative, wealthier Muslims who found themselves being more heavily taxed than their poorer fellows could not cry foul.
Although the account books; do not reveal how much of the servicios requested were actually deposited in the royal treasury, it is probable that the king usually received from his Muslim subjects the desired sums. At times Fernando was quite insistent, indicating to his officials that the Muslims should be compelled to pay if they did not do so voluntarily. When preoccupied with pressing international concerns, the king was not likely to pay much heed to the grievances of his Muslim subjects.
The apparently harsh and unrelenting attitude of the king when demanding extraordinary servicios , induced by the pressing needs of the moment, such as the campaigns in Roussillon and Granada, was by necessity tempered with the application of more far-sighted and benign measures. As Boswell has demonstrated for the reign of Pedro IV, the Crown's judicious granting of remissions and deferments of tax payments was essential in alleviating an aljama's sometimes insupportable
tax load, in effect striking a balance between its needs and those of the aljama.
Although it was preferable to receive from the king a remission or a deferment, the aljamas had a means of raising capital in order to pay taxes: they could, with the permission of the king, borrow money through the sale of annuities, or pensions de censals . The creditor purchasing the censal delivered a sum of capital to the aljama at an annual interest rate of 6.6 to 10 percent, and, in return, the aljama paid annual pensions to the creditor (censalista ) until the price of the censal was paid off. Normally, as part of the censal contract, the aljamas, and their individual members, had to mortgage their property. Default of the payment of a pension resulted in the confiscation and sale of an aljama's property. In the fifteenth century the censal was an instrument of credit of central importance in the financing of the debts of cities, aljamas, and individuals, especially the nobility. Belenguer Cebrià has shown how Fernando wreaked havoc on the city of Valencia's finances: by exacting such large "loans" from the city, he forced the municipality to sell increasing numbers of pensions, which created an unwieldy public debt. On a much smaller scale, Fernando's permission to his aljamas to sell pensions, although providing them with ready capital to make tax payments, in the long run sometimes encumbered them with crushing public debts and made the rentier or censalista class a Mudejar nemesis.
For the most part Valencia's royal aljamas managed to pay their taxes, both ordinary and extraordinary, without having to sell pensions or to ask the king for remissions. However, that this was not always the case suggests that some aljamas, even when meeting fiscal demands, did so only with difficulty. As has been mentioned, the additional burden of the maridatges for the Infantas Maria and Caterina compelled the aljama of Castellón de la Plana to sell a censal in order to raise 870s. Extraordinary taxes also put the aljama of Alcira into financial straits, causing it to take on a censal of 600s, probably to pay the maridatge of the Infanta Juana, and two years later another censal of 800s in order to make the contribution occasioned by the convocation of the Corts (1488). In addition, Fernando allowed the aljama to defer its payment of the peyta in 1497 and again in 1503. In both cases the aljama was able to pay its outstanding peyta the following year, which indicates that its financial troubles were not especially grave.
The poverty of the aljama of Valencia, which had only partially recovered from the destruction of the morería in 1455, was atypical. The reduction of the aljama's taxes to an annual lump sum of 25 pounds (500s) was alone insufficient to cure its financial ills. In 1481 and in 1483 Fernando remitted the aljama's annual payment, on account of "the poverty that is in it." These remissions, combined with the orders of
Juan II and Fernando that the aljama's creditors (censalistas ) reduce the debts burdening it, enabled the aljama to attain sufficient stability to pay its lump tax from 1484 through 1503. The king further aided the aljama by commanding Christians who had purchased property within the morería to pay the property taxes for which the Muslims were liable, and by obstructing the effort of the butchers' guild to impose restrictions on the Muslim butcher shop, inasmuch as the aljama derived essential revenue from the sale of meat.
Royal regulation of Mudejar finances extended beyond the level of the corporate aljama to that of the individual Muslim family. The king's intervention in the financial affairs of Muslim families consisted of granting them licenses to sell annuities (table 15). The licenses stipulated the maximum sum of money that could be borrowed through the censal , and these sums ranged from as little as 10 pounds to as much as 75 pounds. The Mudejars invested the funds mainly in the purchase of land and homes or in home improvements. It was expected that the debts thus incurred would be liquidated within four years. The Mudejars granted such licenses by Fernando's bailiff general were all royal vassals in the morerías of Valencia and Alcira. Such financial paternalism on the part of the Crown ultimately worked in favor of its own treasury. By ensuring that Mudejar vassals borrowed and invested money wisely, at the same time often bettering the physical plant of the royal morerías , the king hoped to foster their prosperity and, indirectly, that of the aljamas. Wealthier aljamas, of course, meant that the king would have a more reliable source of servicios .
The much graver financial situation of many Aragonese and Catalan aljamas presented a greater test to royal benevolence. The Aragonese aljamas, it seems, had never fully recovered from the effects of the fourteenth-century wars between Aragon and Castile, and throughout the fifteenth century were often on the verge of ruin. Catalonia's Muslims probably suffered during the wars that ravaged the province during Juan II's reign. Neither Aragon nor Catalonia could boast of an economic growth such as Valencia enjoyed from which the Mudejars might have benefited. At the outset of his reign Fernando was faced with the prospect of taxing Muslim communities whose resources were already dwindling. His initial zeal to recover revenues relinquished by his father was quickly dampened. For instance, in 1480 Fernando annulled Juan II's partial reduction of the peyta ordinaria paid by Borja's aljama (from 3,000s to 2,000s), but in the following year, after having permitted the aljama to sell a censal of 15,000s in order to pay its diverse debts, he realized his error and extended the reduction of the aljama's peyta obligation until 1498. Indeed, the king responded to the aljamas' complaints of poverty and declining population with a fiscal policy
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marked largely by realism and restraint. The numerous demands of extraordinary servicios from the aljamas were balanced by remissions of the payment of regular taxes. During the years 1480–1485 and 1490–1495 (the documentation is unclear about 1485–1490) Fernando exempted Huesca's Muslims from paying their peyta of 1,450s; and later he ordered an investigation of the extent of the aljama's population decline and of its poverty so as to ascertain whether its taxes needed to be further reduced. Fernando maintained throughout his reign Juan II's reduction of the Tortosa aljama's peyta obligation from 160 pounds to a mere 50 pounds. Daroca's Muslims were granted a twenty-year remission of their annual peyta payment. Even with a lighter regular tax load, some aljamas still insisted that the servicios were onerous and had to be reduced. The aljama of Huesca sought a reduction of its maridatge obligation, and the aljamas of Zaragoza and Borja were conceded reductions of their 1495 servicios . The king took additional measures to ameliorate the situation of aljama finances. He allowed the Mudejars of Albarracín to open their own store for the sale of staples and to use the profits for defraying communal expenses. The aljama of Darcoa was similarly permitted to turn to its own account the proceeds from the sisa on meat and butchery rental. Fernando made sure that Muslim masons of Zaragoza were paid proper wages for their labors on the royal aljafería , so that the resources of the aljama for sustaining its tax burden were not depleted.
Royal taxation formed only one part, albeit the most important part, of the Mudejars' financial dilemma. The necessity of raising capital induced the aljamas to sell annuities, which, while in the short-term providing them with immediate funds, in the long term compounded their debt problems. Scarcely possessing the financial resources to pay royal taxes, much less to pay annual pensions to censalistas , aljamas were compelled to sell more annuities just to make other pension payments. Consequently, the public debt of Aragonese and Catalan aljamas spiraled, often becoming quite unmanageable. Much of the responsibility for this state of affairs must be placed on the shoulders of Fernando and his predecessors, since the Mudejars could not sell pensions without royal license. The remission or reduction of taxes, therefore, solved only part of the problem; the Mudejars still had to deal with the censalistas waiting to foreclose on their mortgages.
Fernando dealt with the problem of the censals weighing on Mudejar aljamas in two ways. First, he permitted the aljamas to sell more pensions, a not especially prudent course of action. The aljama of Albarracín sold a censal of 4,000s in order to pay other pensions, and the aljama of Zaragoza sold a censal of 6,800s for the same purpose. The public debt of Borja's aljama mounted ruinously: in 1480 it sold a censal of
15,000s to liquidate diverse debts; in 1496 it took on another censal of 80,000s in order to pay other pensions; and in the same year the king permitted it to sell a censal of 4,000s so that it could meet its sisa obligations. The second approach was to order the creditors harrying the aljamas to reduce the pensions owed them, that is, to renegotiate the aljamas' debts. In this manner Fernando provided temporary relief to the aljamas of Albarracín, Teruel, Huesca, and Tortosa. However, there were limits to the losses the creditors were willing to sustain, and, inasmuch as the aljamas were bound by contract to pay the pensions, Fernando could only briefly delay the inevitable. Thus, although the king was able to shield Albarracín's Muslims from the censalistas in 1484, by 1488 he had little choice but to allow for the foreclosure on their mortgaged property. Nor should it be imagined that Fernando was the staunch defender of Mudejars against grasping creditors, for in the case of pensions owed by aljamas to Conversos condemned by the Inquisition he did not act in the aljamas' best interests. Here Fernando had an ideal opportunity to assist struggling aljamas significantly by simply waiving the pensions payable to the condemned. Instead, he rewarded a royal servant with the pensions owed to a Converso by the aljama of Teruel, and, after a six-year deferment, allowed the Inquisition to collect from the aljama of Huesca a pension owed to one of its victims.
The king's exercise of some moderation in his fiscal policy did not achieve the reinvigoration of the finances of the Aragonese and Catalan aljamas. Given the desperate situation in which some aljamas entered Fernando's reign, it is unlikely that anything less than complete and long-term remission of regular taxes and servicios would have been a suitable remedy. In both Tortosa and Teruel, despite royal efforts to provide relief, Muslims were selling their property and leaving the morerías because they lacked the means to meet their tax obligations. Fernando responded by having all Muslim property sequestered and inventoried so as to ensure that at least some royal taxes would be paid. At best, by alternating tax remissions and reductions with the exaction of needed servicios , Fernando enabled the aljamas to make some contribution to the royal treasury while maintaining a precarious financial existence.
Fernando's treatment of the Mudejars of Aragon-Catalonia did not differ significantly from his handling of his Muslim vassals in Valencia. In both cases royal fiscal policy was characterized by a limiting of the Crown's voracity to demands that the aljamas could reasonably afford to meet. Aragonese and Catalan aljamas suffered more as a result of factors largely extrinsic to royal policy; their difficulties in supporting their tax burdens stemmed primarily from their integration in local econo-
mies that still had not recovered from the traumas of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. If the Valencian Mudejars' share in their kingdom's greater prosperity allowed them to bear royal taxes with more ease, the king was no less keen to exact his due from the Muslim servants of his Valencian treasury.
Unfortunately, there are no seigneurial account books similar to those of the royal bailiffs from which a detailed study of seigneurial taxation of the Mudejars might be made. The few cartas pueblas studied by Miguel Gual Camarena provide some information on the various taxes demanded from Muslims who resided on seigneurial lands, but reveal nothing about the ability of the Muslims to pay them. Blanket generalizations regarding a seigneurial fiscal regime cannot be offered, since the situation seems to have varied from one barony to another. Still, on the basis of the cartas pueblas a few general comments are possible.
To a large extent the seigneurial fiscal regime was quite similar to that of the Crown. Like royal vassals, seigneurial vassals were obliged to use the public utilities and workshops—ovens, mills, taverns, ironworks, saddleworks, and the like—owned by their lord, and they, too, had to pay a fee for the privilege. They were likewise liable for the rents of their homes and land, the tithe (terç de delme ), and property taxes (peyta [or almagram , as it was sometimes called on seigneurial lands]). However, there seems to be little doubt that seigneurial vassals bore a heavier tax burden. In addition to the annual rent on their land, they were also obliged to give their lord a certain percentage of their harvest (these percentages varied from seigneury to seigneury), and sometimes a certain number of chickens or a certain amount of honey each year. On some baronies vassals were required to sell agricultural and pastoral products to their lord at a price lower than the market price.
In most cases it seems that the lords exacted more from their Muslim vassals than from the Christians (in contrast to royal towns, where taxation was relatively equitable). Thus, in his efforts to attract Mudejars to his new morería in Ayora Don Rodrigo de Mendoza promised the Muslims that he would "not demand from them any tax other than those the Christians are obliged to pay." And in 1526 the recently converted Moriscos specifically requested of Carlos I "that they not be pressed to pay more or less [taxes] than the Christians." Sometimes the Mudejars had to give the lord a higher percentage of their harvest, but usually their heavier tax burden consisted of the sofras , a series of personal services they owed to their lord. Such services might include working in
the lord's vineyards and huerta , provisioning the lord's house with wood and charcoal, transporting crops to the lord, maintenance and repair of the lord's utilities, and weaving linen and silk for the lord. The Mudejars were paid a low daily wage for their labors. That most Mudejars chose to remain on seigneurial lands despite an option to move to royal morerías suggests that the Mudejars had other noneconomic reasons for doing so, and that perhaps life there was not as difficult as the preceding list of taxes and services would indicate. In the previous chapter it was pointed out that some seigneurial Muslims were able to prosper, in part through pursuing a strategy of renting or purchasing land outside of their seigneuries, where they were not liable for the heavy seigneurial dues. In the sixteenth century the Moriscos living on seigneurial lands probably felt their lord's exactions much more keenly, since prevailing conditions deprived them of the options available to their fifteenth-century predecessors.
The picture of relative financial stability that has been drawn regarding the royal aljamas of the kingdom of Valencia cannot easily be extended to include their seigneurial counterparts. There is evidence that a number of seigneurial aljamas had financial difficulties, which in part derived from the insolvency of their lords. This royal-seigneurial dichotomy mirrors that which seems to have existed between the prosperity of the capital and perhaps of other towns and the economic stagnation of at least some rural areas. While agrarian productivity seems to have declined between 1410 and 1518, textile production and commerce in the capital experienced growth until the final decades of the fifteenth century. The agrarian decline was a consequence of the plagues that swept over the kingdom throughout the fifteenth century (1411, 1428, 1439, 1450, 1459, 1475, 1478, 1489, 1508, 1519) and left many areas seriously underpopulated. Although urban areas also suffered greatly from the plagues, their populations, or at least that of the capital, were replenished by immigration from Castile. Such conditions, although allowing individual Muslim and Christian farmers to take more land under cultivation and thereby prosper, were detrimental to the finances of the landed nobility and the corporate universitates and aljamas of their Christian and Muslim vassals.
The reduction in the amount of land being farmed resulted in decreasing revenues for the nobility. Lords could not easily increase the productivity of their estates, for even when their enterprising vassals tilled idle land they tended to do so in areas outside of the seigneury. Furthermore, the progressive substitution of rents in kind for rents in cash seems to have stimulated greater expenditure on the part of the nobility, who found, however, that their diminishing monetary income was insufficient to support the lifestyle to which they had grown accus-
tomed. Thus many nobles entered into a state of indebtedness and raised more money through the sale of pensions to prosperous urban merchants or to other lords who possessed the funds to invest.
Seigneurial aljamas and universitates were implicated in the lords' debts, because when the lords sold pensions they normally mortgaged their properties and the rents they received from their vassals as security for the payment of the pensions. Consequently, if a lord defaulted on his pension payment, the creditor could initiate executions against the property and rents of the lord's vassals. Or, in what amounted to the same thing, as a lord's monetary resources dwindled he might compel his universitates and aljamas to take on ("cargasen") the responsibility of the pension payment themselves. In both cases, either through the lord's default or through formal assumption of the responsibility of payment, the vassals found themselves paying their rents to their lord's creditors. The creditors in effect replaced the lord as rent collector.
As long as the pensions owed by the lord did not exceed the amount of rent the lord normally received the vassals could tolerate the demands of the creditors, for it made little difference whether the creditor or the lord's tax farmer collected the rent. However, when the rents proved insufficient to liquidate outstanding pensions, the vassals were then faced with the attempts of the creditors to confiscate and auction off the properties and possessions remaining to them, as a corporation or as individuals, after tax payment. For those vassals who barely met the fiscal demands of their lords, additional exactions on the part of the creditors might prove disastrous.
The aljamas and universitates of Benaguacil, Paterna, and la Pobla (collectively called the antich patrimoni ), whose lord was the Infante Enrique, were burdened with numerous pension obligations that, Fernando admitted, had been taken on by his royal predecessors and other lords (e.g., the 1,480s annual pension sold by the Count de Luna to a knight). Because the rents were insufficient to meet all the pension payments, Fernando took measures to excuse the aljamas and universitates from all superfluous payments and expenses, and therefore relieved them of the responsibility of paying the 500s salary of the advocate of the antich patrimoni . However, that such a measure would have provided only minimal relief is clear from subsequent claims against the Infante and his vassals by the Count of Oliva (1495), the Count of Trivento (1501), and Joan Ferrando, a lawyer (1502), for 5,107s, 8,400s, and 166s 8d, respectively.
The powerful Duke de Cardona and his aljamas—Benicanena, Beniopa, Alcarea Nova, Benipeixcar, and el Real, all located in the huerta of Gandía, and those of the valleys of Guadalest and Confrides and the town of Ondara—were constantly engaged in legal battles with
their creditors over outstanding pensions. One document from 1486 lists no less than nineteen creditors, among whom were noblemen, urban citizens, and the Hospital of Holy Innocents in Valencia. For instance, at least 180s were owed to Dona Yolant de Aragon, 8,000s to the knight Françi Crespi de Valldaura, and 500s to Luis de Vilanova. It seems that during the period covered by this study only a few of these debt cases were resolved. The Duke de Cardona would argue that excessive executions against the property of his vassals would cause them to abandon their lands. Or if the king actually commanded that executions be made, the Duke would see to it that they were carried out moderately and according to strict guidelines he himself had set. The success of the Duke and his aljamas in evading their creditors may be attributed to the fact that the Duke was, as the knight Françi Crespi complained in frustration, a "potent person."
The Infante Enrique and the Duke de Cardona certainly were not alone in endangering the financial stability of their aljamas and universitates through their own excessive borrowing. One also finds creditors harrying the Count of Cocentaina and his vassals in the town of Elda, or the lords and aljamas of Dos Aguas, Alacuás, and Novelda. It is difficult todetermine from the debt litigation just how much of a threat was posed to the solvency of seigneurial aljamas by having to satisfy their lords' creditors. Presumably, some lords had the good sense not to overextend themselves to the point that their debts could not be covered by the rents they received from their vassals. The aljamas of such lords would not have been placed in any jeopardy. However, other lords were not so concerned about maintaining a balanced budget. They eventually were forced to plead with their creditors to renegotiate their pension payments, for they feared that execution against their vassals' mortgaged property—beyond the normal rent payments—would force the vassals to flee and settle elsewhere. And these fears were not exaggerated in some cases. Many Muslim vassals abandoned the seigneuries of Dos Aguas and Olocau rather than endure the confiscation of their goods by their lords' creditors. In such cases the lords and the remaining vassals were left in even direr straits, for with fewer vassals less land could be cultivated, and with the consequent smaller harvests there would be even less revenue available for satisfying the creditors. And, as has been seen, new vassals were difficult to come by.
However, the financial difficulties experienced by some seigneurial aljamas cannot always be attributed to the imprudent spending of their lords, for many aljamas sold pensions to raise money on their own account. An aljarna might need to borrow money for any number of reasons, such as purchasing grain after a poor harvest or a flood, or buying materials for repairing the local irrigation system. Apparently,
aljamas had been borrowing money in this fashion since the late fourteenth century. Thus Francesch Vilar, a priest beneficed in the church of Santa María del Mar in Barcelona, sued the aljamas of the Vall de Uxó for 81 pounds 10s in outstanding pensions. This pension had been sold by the aljamas in 1383 to a citizen of Barcelona, Arnau Alos, who subsequently bequeathed it to the church of Santa María. The same aljamas also owed 216s 8d in pensions to the heirs of one Bartholomeu Ros. The aljama of Elda sold numerous pensions in its own behalf, distinct from those which had been sold by their lord, the Count of Cocentaina. In 1497 the aljama concluded an agreement with eighteen of its creditors, among whom were noblemen, merchants, and clergymen, including the cardinal-bishop and chapter of Zaragoza and the monastery of Poblet. Realizing that the aljama's goods and rents were sufficient for little more than to pay the salaries of the officials sent to confiscate them for the payment of outstanding pensions, the creditors decided to stay the order of execution and renegotiate the aljama's debt, so that the aljama would be left with some means of paying future pensions. Other aljamas involved in suits with their creditors were those of Ribarroja, Villamarchante, and Mislata, although none of these seems to have had debt burdens like that of the aljama of Elda.
It is probably wise to refrain from making any general conclusions as to the widespread financial difficulties of seigneurial aljamas. The evidence is too scanty and scattered, and it is not at all clear from the documents that the creditors' claims were always valid and acted upon or that the aljamas were unable to pay the pensions. In any case, it is certain from the study of Eugenio Císcar Pallarés that the problem of seigneurial insolvency was far more serious in the latter half of the sixteenth century. At that time considerable inflation devalued the lords' cash rents (prices were, in contrast, relatively stable in the late fifteenth century) to such an extent that not even the huge population increase—50.9 percent between 1563 and 1609—and the consequent growth in agrarian production could close the gap between expenses and income and relieve the lords' financial troubles. The situation of the vassals also worsened. Unable to change vassalage because of an overabundance of labor, and left with less land to farm owing to the progressive subdivision of family properties, they were hard-pressed to meet the increasing fiscal demands of their lords. Therefore, a more modest conclusion may be offered: during Fernando's reign there are evident signs of the later crisis of the seigneurial regime.