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Jocelyn N Hillgarth (1988)

A Greek slave in Majorca in 1419-26: new documents

Mediaeval Studies, 50:546-558.

F. Sevillano Colom (d. 1976) had provided Verlinden with many documents, including the slave-tax list of 1428. The figures mentioned here and already in 1328 are probably set too low, because they only took into consideration the male slaves outside the city. Verlinden therefore assumed a number of 8,082 slaves for the island in 1428, at least 10%, perhaps even 20% of the population. On 7 October 1374, 14 Muslim, Tatar and “recently baptized” slaves were hanged “ex eo quia voluerunt ignem ponere per diversa loca dictae civitatis et terram ac regnum Maioricarum sibi ipsis retinere ac Regi Sarracenorum tradere”. There were efforts to limit the number of slaves per owner. In 1491, the Inquisitors were accused of having freed hundreds of slaves belonging to “judaizing” Majorcans, to the disadvantage to the island. Catalans and Majorcans also purchased Greek slaves in Crete, Rhodes and Genoa or from the Catalan duchies of Athens and Thebes (1311-88). Since pope Urban V, the Church opposed the enslavement of orthodox Christians (but in 1401 Martin I of Aragón forbade the admission of corresponding petitions).

Changes: The confraternity of the Greek freedpersons (with a Chapel of St Nicholas in the cathedral) no longer existed in 1460, and while 69 Greek slaves were counted in Pollença in 1362, there were almost none on the island in 1428 (see also the information provided by Macaire [1986]). A Byzantine legation came to Barcelona in 1419 and demanded the manumission of approximately 50 Greeks who had been kidnapped by Catalan pirates in Morea.

The petition of a certain Dimitri (named Andreas in Majorca), published in the appendix, shows that the Venetians possessions in Greece, too, were attacked by the Catalans. Dimitri was sold in Artà in 1419 (after a buyer for Greek slaves could not be found in Sicily). The claim was brought forward by a procurator (Johan Sora, notari de Maloques, procurador de misserables persones, an office that had probably been established in 1343 by Pere III), and Dimitri’s owner, Miquel Rotlan, sued for damages because the long trial in the capital had caused him losses (he also brought an action in 1426 against the sellers of a Bulgarian slave who seemed to suffer from epilepsy; these demanded a medical expertise; incidentally, Rotland seems not to have declared all his slaves). The seller, Antoni Castanyer, a well known and respected captain, was sued for “evictio”.

Majorca 15th century sources Catalans
by Christine Breckler last modified 2007-02-15 12:59

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