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.