A Medieval Catalan Noble Family:
the Montcadas, 1000-1230

John C. Shideler


Lord and Peasant in the Twelfth Century

[159] The territorial lordship of the Montcadas in Old Catalonia could not have existed without peasants. They tilled the soil, raised sheep, pigs, and fowl, and generally supported the local castle lord. Yet the physical world shared by these two groups of men had few points in common. The lord recognized domains comprised of castles, allods, fiefs, and wardships; the peasants labored on land organized into castle districts, hamlets, manses, and fields. And when the lord returned from the court of a prince to share the same geographic space with the peasants of his domain, still he moved surrounded by knights, dealing only rarely with anyone who was not a vassal, vicar, or bailiff.

But a lord could not afford to ignore the condition, numbers, or distribution of those who worked the land. Peasants represented a valuable resource to him; too few meant lost opportunities and too many a lower net yield per homestead. Peasants sustained the lord's men, fueled his horses, and supplied meat, bread, and wine to his tables. So important were these functions that in the two or three generations before the twelfth century territorial lords worked to perfect the mechanisms by which the districts they controlled could be operated profitably The fruits of these efforts are plainly visible in documents pertaining to Montcada domains.

What circumstances affected the number and distribution of peasants, and how were Montcada lordships equipped to deal with changes in their conditions? An increasing population must be postulated for Catalonia during the twelfth century. This followed from an agricultural economy that had expanded in area cultivated [160] and in total output, especially as a result of immigration from (or via) southern France, since around the year 1000.(1) But the steady rise in Old Catalonia's population probably was mostly offset by a corresponding emigration from these regions to towns and to areas in New Catalonia. The reconquest of these lands, which lay south of a line extending from Barcelona on the coast to points further inland where narrow Pyrenean gorges of the confluents of the Ebro River widened into a vast interior plain, created opportunities for both peasants and lords.(2)

Though there is little basis for a statistical analysis of the population, there is evidence, supported by two indices, that Montcada districts in Old Catalonia were fully or nearly fully occupied. First, grants of uncultivated land were rare in the twelfth century. Second, in the one castle district where the number of hearths in 1140 is known, each homestead would have had to shelter an average of only six individuals to accommodate a population equal to that of the present-day municipal district. Allowing for the percentage of population in a modern municipality that is nonproductive agriculturally, the twelfth-century figures show a rural population near in size to that of today.(3) The population in Montcada domains appears to have been relatively stable, with variations relating to locality. This stability can be inferred from transactions between lord and peasant in which the lord gave land not only to a peasant couple but also to their legitimate offspring, a practice that suggests a social structure favoring the conservation of productive land in nuclear families. Rarely did the Montcadas deal with a whole clan or lineage; more frequently the recipient of land was a single person, a couple, or a couple and one son.(4) Along with such grants, the lord often required residence and personal cultivation of the land, a provision that may have been intended to promote an even distribution of workers over all the agricultural lands.(5)

[161] This picture of stability may be deceptive, however, for evidence in charters relating to Montcada domains also suggests that the lords of Montcada sought to bind peasants to the soil. Were conditions such that, given free choice, the holders of agricultural plots in Old Catalonia would have abandoned their homes to start new lives in a nearby town or on the frontier? It remains difficult to assess the rewards of such a move; and to some extent the choice would involve weighing intangibles. What value, for example, should be accorded to the promise of greater personal liberty that was a customary feature of frontier-town charters of enfranchisement? It must have had some, for heavier servitude was increasingly imposed in Montcada domains.

Documents of the twelfth century not only contained an increasing number of provisions stipulating that the peasants themselves should work their land, they also bore witness to a deterioration in the personal status of peasants. As early as 1132, for example, the abbot of Sant Cugat warned a certain Adelaida, whom he described as the monastery's "own woman," and her husband, Berenguer Arnau, not to recognize or make appeals to another lord.(6) But it was not until the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries that such phrases became common in documents relating to Montcada lordships. In 1187, Guillem Ramon de Montcada accepted Berenguer de Arenys and his brother Guerau as "his own men." In a transaction resembling that of vassalage, the brothers were commended to the protection of their lord with clasped hands. But in contrast to the similar noble ceremony, the pair was received with the provision that they would pay Guillem Ramon and his bailiff at Montcada an annual tribute of 12 deniers of Barcelona.(7) A few years later, a manse of Guillem Ramon's was said to be held by Bernat de Galliners, "the inhabitant of the manse." This phrase suggests a permanent link between Bernat and his home, a bond no doubt left unbroken by the transfer of the manse to the monastery of Santes Creus.(8) By 1228, a document attested that Pere de Sescheriis was the "personal and solid man" of Guillem de Montcada "because [his] father and mother and their manse" had belonged to the Montcada lord.(9) Here was a clear expression of servility, unmitigated by an accord that would bring to [162] the peasant a guarantee of protection or maintenance in exchange for decreased personal independence.

The tightening reins of servitude were but one element of efforts on the part of lords to restrict the discretion enjoyed by peasants over the destiny of their productive land. Other practices included regulating succession practices, especially where the transfer of land involved more than the simple inheritance from a father to one or two of his sons. Such an intervention occurred in March 1173, when Ramon de Montcada granted a manse in Arraona to a couple who agreed to cultivate it with Guillem de Vilar, a son of one of their neighbors. The couple promised to marry their eldest daughter to Guillem when she came of age, or a younger daughter if the elder were to die. Should Guillem die before the contracted marriage, his younger brother would wed in his place.(10) Such provisions appear to have aimed at promoting continuity of succession in the land by local people -- which suggests in turn that efforts to find or maintain cultivators on terms that suited the lord were not always successful.

Analysis of the nomenclature of peasant agricultural lands sheds further light on peasant settlements in Montcada domains in the twelfth century. A commonly transferred rural holding was the manse, a term that frequently designated in the twelfth century more than just a peasant dwelling. In many contexts the word denotes an integrated rural tenancy comprised of a house or houses, cultivated and uncultivated lands and vines, trees of diverse kinds, and dependent structures. The Catalan manse appeared to weather the twelfth century substantially intact.(11) Only in exceptional cases was division attested, and then evidence suggests that the original manses had been quite extensive. In 1147 Guillem Ramon Seneschal agreed to trade for half of the manse of Soled his allod in the district of Vacarisses "ad ipsum pratum," his allod between the "casa" of Sant Llorenç and the Calvela pass, and an allodial right to three sestars of barley (annually) in the forge of Vacarisses.(12) If this [163] division was an ominous portent for the future, the danger did not materialize before the mid-thirteenth century at the earliest. For until 1230, mentions of divided manses remained rare in Montcada domains.

The fact that manses were usually undivided does not suggest that every peasant had a complete rural holding to exploit. In addition to these units there existed separate fields, vineyards, groves, and orchards that could be held either as a supplement to the manse or in substitution for it. The circulation of these entities, which could occur through exchange or enfeoffment among nobles(13) or by cession to tenants,(14) was relatively small in the twelfth century, a development that may be tied both to a decline in peasant allodial property and to a process of land consolidation by lords.(15) But peasants remained who were landless or nearly so. They presumably lived in dwellings erected on small parcels of land, perhaps working for a share in the harvest of wealthier peasants. A graphic image of the inequality of wealth at the village level is reflected in the description of a castlà's three-tier system of taxation on peasants in Vacarisses: the levy was highest for those who employed oxen for their cultivation, halved for those who used a hoe, and discretionary for those "who labored without a manse."(16) Who were the peasants, there and elsewhere, who "labored without a manse?" One possible answer is that they were individuals who had been excluded from all but a minor portion of their parents' inheritance when another sibling had received the manse of their fathers. Another answer could be that they were the "men" of the lord -- those who tilled the soil of his "reserves."

The problem of reserves and the manorial domain has been much discussed in Catalan historiography, notably by Eduardo Hinojosa and more recently by Pierre Bonnassie.(17) From Bonnassie's study it is now clear that manorial estates existed in Catalonia, especially in the Pyrenean and northwestern regions. But they were far from ubiquitous, and in the lands south of the highest [164] mountain refuges they were exceptional. Though there were some important estates elsewhere -- such as the comital domain of Sant Pere de Vilamajor -- ceded "fiscal" holdings and allodial property predominated at the beginning of the eleventh century. Such properties became in that century the object of domination by castle lords who extended their jurisdiction to the inhabitants of all their districts. Did this subjugation by castle lords create new manorial estates centered around the castle, or is another explanation to be sought for the references to "reserves" in twelfth-century documents from Montcada domains?

These references to reserves or dominicature are rare in Montcada documents of the twelfth century, but they exist and can be logically explained. Such lands, often small in contrast with comital estates, originated when vicars first marked off lots for their use in their own castle districts. The lots were subject to the dominion of the castle lord throughout the eleventh century. Thus the dominicatura of Gurb, which the Great Seneschal's father pledged to Arnau Arnau in 1118, consisted of a manse with its fields and accesses and "the men who have and hold the fields for us."(18) The original conditions under which these lands were worked would have been a matter of mutual agreement between peasants and lords, but with the onset of the twelfth century these terms, like those imposed upon holders of "free" or allodial land, became obliterated. As this happened, the word dominicatura became simply synonymous with "lordship." This would explain the terminology employed in 1139, when Guillem Ramon [II] gave his honor of La Tor with all its manses and lands to a knight who received it "per bonum fevum et per dominicaturam."(19) In the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, as peasants were increasingly subjected to uniform banal charges by bailiffs who collected the proceeds of the land, the term dominicatura lost nearly all of its original meaning.

Products of the Land: The
Agricultural Economy

A study of twelfth-century documents offers a picture of the productive tasks that occupied the peasants in Montcada domains. [165] These included tilling fields, cultivating vines, and tending olive trees. Most important was the planting of cereals, which provided flour for bread. Barley was the most common grain sown, though wheat and feed grains like oats were also planted.(20) Grain was so important for human consumption that documents frequently failed to specify variety, referring to it simply as "bread" -- usually in a phrase that included wine, another staple element in the diet.(21) Also important was the production of olives, which were processed for consumption or pressed for oil.(22) Plants grown in Old Catalonia for noncomestible purposes included hemp and flax, which supplied fibers for cordage and cloth.(23)

Though cultivated fields, vineyards, and orchards were the mainstay of peasant agricultural economy, they were not its only resources. Wooded lands surrounded nearly all but the most intensely settled valley communities, providing ample opportunities for gathering forest products and for grazing pigs. Names like Roviradec, the manse of Coscolario and "ter de Freixanet" all refer to stands of oak or ash on which grew acorns suitable for feeding pigs.(24) From the pigs came salt-cured hams and shoulders, many of which went to the lords, though some meat probably also went to the peasant's table and lard into his larder.(25) In addition, most peasants raised chickens for poultry and eggs, and some raised sheep.(26) There are some references to plow oxen and, indirectly, to animals that provided milk.(27) Other animals large enough to do [166] work or provide transport also existed, but they were usually mentioned only in transactions involving nobles. Such animals as horses and mules, not generally available to peasants because of their price, had a limited impact on the rural economy.(28)

It would be difficult to describe a typical agricultural community in Old Catalonia in the mid-twelfth century if a kind of document known as the caput brevis (Catalan capbreu) had not been preserved. One such domain account sheds light on the castle district of Muntanyola at the moment of its transfer from Montcada lordship to that of the monastery of Santa Maria de l'Estany.

The capbreu of Muntanyola was clearly valuable to the monks, who obtained a precise list of the rents owed by local inhabitants to their lords.(29) It details the revenues produced by a specific number of agricultural holdings, and documents the diversity of individual units. Further, the geographical dimensions of Muntanyola can be reconstructed from it. Place names in the capbreu are still in use after more than eight hundred years, and information it contains suggests that the boundaries of today's municipality follow those of the medieval castle district.(30) Within that district, the capbreu distinguishes fifty-seven productive units, which probably approximates the number of hearths in twelfth-century Muntanyola. Of these, twenty-nine (51 percent) are identified as manses; in nine cases (16 percent) the unit is called a mas. There were five mills (9 percent) in the district and one laboratio or piece of cultivated land (2 percent). The remaining thirteen holdings (34 percent), not described by type, included four parcels called "land of [toponym or personal name]," five mentions of individual persons, and four miscellaneous entries (three geographic references and a mention of the "priests of Sant Quirze"). On a modern map of the region, these names stud the area within the borders of the modern municipal district (see Map 3).

An examination of the capbreu shows that the number of rents [168] owed by holders of manses varied widely; some paid in only one or two categories, others in five, six, or seven. Poultry was the most nearly universal rent category in Muntanyola, amounting to one or two pairs of hens or capons per year. This rent was collected from fully two-thirds of all units designated as a mas or a manse, from the single laboratio cited in the document, and from 90 percent of the "other" exploitations. The next most common rent was the questa (which appears in the capbreu as a regular annual payment, probably a fixed proportion of the harvest), paid by 70 percent of the manse holders in Muntanyola; 61 percent of them also supplied three cheeses per year to their lords. Other rents were the tasca, owed by 58 percent of the manses, and the braçatge, paid by five of the peasants; these rents represented one-eleventh and one-sixteenth shares of the harvest, respectively.(31) Even by 1230, there was little evidence of conversion to monetary rents at the peasant level, as in some parts of Europe.(32) In addition to the tasca and braçatge, three inhabitants paid a quarter of their harvest as well -- which provides evidence of the upward pressure on rents in Catalonia from the eleventh century(33) Eight manse holders also owed one or two quartera (a unit of measure) of rixidons (a feed grain?) per year; and two gave a quantity of wheat to the lord of Muntanyola.

From this data, it appears that the holders of manses generally acquitted more dues than did the others. On closer examination, however the division between holdings that owed light and heavy rents is not quite so clear. Two categories in the list of entries show consistently low rents: the mills, which paid only one or at most two dues, and those holdings named near the end of the capbreu. Of these, fourteen of the fifteen listed owed only one or two forms of rent. Among them were six manses, four names of individuals, and four holdings known as "lands." Their lighter dues can be understood by considering how the document was organized.

The capbreu was produced from the testimony of three local men, who seem to have arranged the entries in geographic sequence. This hypothesis can be tested against the locations of the [169] known holdings. First on the list is the manse of Bermon de Tres Serra, which lies in the southwest corner of the castle district. Subsequent entries proceed northward along the Muntanyola River to the vicinity of the castle. At this point the geographic continuity of the document is interrupted, or else it follows an order unintelligible to the modern observer. In the middle of the document, following the initial progression from the southwest to the geographic center of the district, many of the names are found that are recognizable from the central and eastern portions of the castle district. Following these, in the last third of the document, are the fourteen entries with limited rent, including the "ter de Rossello de Villa Venrel," the manse of "Tayadella qui sunt novelli," and the "comes ermes." The first can be identified with the contemporary toponym at the extreme eastern edge of the municipality of Muntanyola. The manse named after the "new Tayadella" could refer to a more recent utilization of the lower land east of Muntanyola, an impression supported by the inclusion in this group of a manse whose name also suggests expansion, that of the "comes ermes," -- an uncultivated hill. If this is so, the unifying element of these fourteen entries could have been their geographic location at the eastern fringe of the castle district, where settlement advanced to lower lands after reaching a saturation point in the territory immediately surrounding the castle. This development might not have occurred in the twelfth century, but a century or two before, when "pioneers" ventured down from secure lands in the mountains next to the castle. Because of the risk they faced, their dues to the lord were lower -- a situation which, like the place names of their holdings, became fixed in the collective memory of their neighbors. If this hypothesis is correct, the peasants who worked lands on the plain of Vic in the tranquil decades of the twelfth century would have possessed a substantial material advantage over their brethren who continued to work the more protected but more rugged holdings in Muntanyola's higher elevations.

In addition to telling us the amount of rent paid by landholders to their lords, the capbreu records two instances in which labor services were required. These obligations were discharged by grinding grain for the castle and washing dishes, which indicates that Muntanyola was probably a community of integrated, self-sustaining agricultural units. For if there had been a "manor," one [170] might expect on the one hand specialization of labor sufficient to exonerate manse holders from domestic duties, and on the other hand that all or nearly all peasants would be required to divide their labor between their own fields and those of their lords.

The capbreu furnishes the image of an agricultural community of modest size that probably was self-sufficient but from which only moderate profits derived. Muntanyola produced enough grain to support the operation of five mills, but it did not generate so much of a surplus that the castle lord taxed the profits of commerce by establishing a local fair. Nor was industry important at Muntanyola. For despite the mountains from which it took its name, Muntanyola was not a mining center, and it lacked both forge and forge usage taxes. Its economy was strictly rural, and it remained, in the twelfth century, isolated if not mostly "closed."

The Profits of Lordship

Lordship in the Montcada domains in the twelfth century was marked by both continuity and change. Although the administration of domains continued to be the concern of the lords of Montcada and their castlans, the tasks of collecting and accounting for revenues were increasingly performed by a new class of administrators known as bailiffs. Bailiffs achieved prominence in a century in which the social gap between higher and lower levels of nobility was reduced by a rise in the status of castlans and knights. As these acquired greater authority within their own districts, the lords of Montcada found that fiscal control of their domains could be elusive. At first they strengthened the role of bailiffs in their lands, but eventually, toward the end of the century, they turned for assistance to a new class of entrepreneurs who came to share the title of bailiff with the older domain officials. A few of these new men, the most exceptional, farmed the rents of the lordship in exchange for cash advances. By the early decades of the thirteenth century they had become the cornerstones of Montcada fiscal administration.


The Bailiff's Role
in Montcada Domains

The importance of bailiffs grew in the twelfth century, as first lords and then castlans came to have less contact with peasants. The bailiffs, many of whom were not noble, collected rents and often appeared as signatories when their lords granted parcels of property to peasants.(34) Because bailiffs remained the personal agents of their lords, more than one of them could be involved in collecting rents from a domain. Thus, when Guerau de Jorba and his retinue along with Guillem Ramon Seneschal and his son Guillem and Pere de Sentmenat described their rights in a manse in Arraona, they mentioned three bailiffs, each attending to the financial interests of his lord.(35) The procedures in such a situation were outlined in 1164 in an agreement between Guillem Ramon and Pere de Sentmenat. In return for renouncing the castellania of Montcada, Pere received as fief from Guillem Ramon two measures (kaficia)of barley annually in the castle district of Sentmenat. In that district, Pere agreed that his bailiff would go with Guillem Ramon's to collect the tenth in the manse(?) of Arno. Pere's bailiff would retain one kaficium for his lord, and the remainder would be kept by Guillem Ramon's bailiff. The other kaficium of barley would be taken annually in the forge of Sentmenat. Pere's bailiff would accompany Guillem Ramon's blacksmith to collect the locidum (a fee imposed upon peasants for the use of the forge), keeping one kaficium for Pere de Sentmenat's account and leaving the remainder for Guillem Ramon.(36)

Various persons collected rents for their lord. Most bailiffs, though they clearly served in this capacity, were also working members of their communities. Berenguer "Cap Bovis," undoubtedly a rich peasant, was an ox drover whose ownership of animals give him higher status than other tillers of the soil.(37)[172] Blacksmiths, who in at least two cases served the Montcadas as bailiffs, were another strong element in community life.(38) But noble bailiffs -- those who "mounted a horse and ate wheat bread" -- are the ones mentioned most often in Montcada documents, especially in the second half of the twelfth century, although non-noble bailiffs may have been more numerous. Noble bailiffs were, according to the social distinctions enshrined in the Usatges of Barcelona, considered knights when fines were levied for their death or mutilation. Berenguer de Auriag was a noble bailiff. Together with Arnau de Romaned, another of Guillem Ramon's bailiffs, Berenguer appeared as plaintiff in 1170 in a dispute with Arnau de Palomar over the boundaries of the allods of Castellar and Sentmenat.(39) Berenguer, a prime mover in the case, was among those participants who were called probi homines and testes idoneos (terms of distinction that, in the early eleventh century, were applied to members of the vice-comital or vicarial class). Berenguer de Auriag was not of such origins, but he could be counted as noble, and he enjoyed the nobleman's privilege of accompanying his lord on horseback during visits to his domains and sharing wheat bread with him at the table.

There was then, some difference in function between the bailiff charged with collecting measures of grain, chickens, and hams from fellow peasants and bailiffs like Berenguer de Auriag. The non-noble bailiffs were basically immobile, whereas the nobles ranged widely over castle districts and their surroundings. Not only Castellar and Sentmenat came under the purview of Berenguer de Auriag, but also other parts of the Vallès.(40) This wider mandate for noble bailiffs meant that they could hear pleas, exact usages, and perhaps render accounts to their lord for foodstuffs collected in various villages or hamlets. Such functions perhaps belonged to Pere de Torelló, bailiff for Ramon de Montcada, who, like Berenguer de Auriag, is known to have presided over pleas. In 1174 he reached an agreement with Pere de Puig, his wife Ermengards, and their friends concerning intestads sive exorquias and "many other quarrels" revolving around succession to property The dispute was concluded when Pere accepted for himself and his [173] lord the sum of 8 sols and 3 sols for terch de honorem, a tax levied on the purchase of property.(41)

The system of bailiffs as it had evolved by the second half of the twelfth century served well the lordship imposed directly by magnates or indirectly through their castlans. But its adaptability to new conditions became evident when the process of subinfeudation and borrowing against collateral clouded the lines of hierarchical authority in the early thirteenth century. Then a new kind of bailiff emerged, one who towered above his non-noble counterpart in financial power and prestige, and who rivaled and probably surpassed the most successful of the old-style noble bailiffs in his master's esteem.

Bernat Barutí was the most conspicuous example of this kind of official in Montcada lands. Cited in 1209 as "bailiff" in a sale of property in the Montcada lordship at Vic,(42) Bernat began his financial service to the Montcadas in 1212 by allowing Guillem de Montcada to pledge his (Bernat's) honor of Gurri to Berenguer and Joan de Maiols for 1,700 sols, payable by the next feast of All Saints. To compensate the bailiff, Guillem in turn pledged his castle of Montcada with its revenues until the honor of Gurri could be redeemed.(43) Bernat Barutí's greatest contributions to Montcada solvency came during the return to political influence of Guillem Ramon de Montcada and his son Guillem, before Jaume I had come of age. In 1215 Guillem Ramon and Guillem acknowledged receiving from Bernat 52 marks of silver, 154 morabetins, and 1,740 sols of Barcelona, and they pledged in return their revenues from Vic and the castles of Tona and Montcada.(44) Later that year Bernat Barutí offered himself as security to a Gascon lender, Guasch de la Tor, from whom Guillem Ramon borrowed money prior to his trip to Rome.(45) By early 1216 Bernat Barutí again was listed as a creditor of the Montcadas, receiving in pledge for his financial services the resources of Torelló and Montcada.(46) Bernat Barutí evidently enjoyed the confidence of his Montcada lords, and he was recognized in Guillem Ramon de Montcada's will as one of four men to provide for the "care" of Osona upon the viscount's [174] death.(47) In April 1219 Bernat, acting both as bailiff and procurator of Guillem Ramon de Montcada, presided at a tribunal to settle disputes between Elissenda de Sentmenat and Bernard Aiach, and in May he accepted a charter from Ramon de Plegamans that acknowledged his payment of 100 sols on behalf of the viscount.(48)

But Bernat Barutí became most actively involved with Guillem Ramon's son. His closeness to the young lord of Montcada was evident by July 1219, when he was first among the subscribers to Guillem de Montcada's donation of five sols annually to the Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Montpellier.(49) Late that month Bernat had Guillem de Montcada acknowledge diverting 600 sols from the revenues of his land that should have gone to one Berenguer de Riera. The document stated Guillem's intention to repay the money and added his promise to "always be for you [Bernat Barutí] and yours a legal guarantor and defender."(50) This provision suggests that Bernat wanted to be protected if Berenguer de Riera were to be displeased over the contract of this "loan." In fact, Berenguer de Riera seems to have been slow to redeem the pledge he held for revenues amounting to 1,000 marks of silver, for in May 1220 Guillem de Montcada was once again appropriating revenues from this source and ordering Bernat Barutí to use them in repaying other debts.(51)

By 1220, Guillem de Montcada's interests included managing the county of Barcelona, an enterprise made possible by his procuratorship in Catalonia. Acting in May 1220 as "lieutenant of the king," Guillem sold Bernat Barutí the office of vicar of Barcelona for a period of five years, and applied the 5,000 sol price to the repayment of royal debts.(52) He authorized Bernat in another charter a few days later to recover an additional 500 sols that had already been obligated in the veguerie from a certain Berenguer Sunyer.(53)

Bernat Barutí's appointment to the veguerie of Barcelona did not affect his involvement as an official in the service of Guillem de [175] Montcada. Appearing in 1221 as Guillem's procurator, Bernat argued the Montcada side in a dispute with Sant Cugat concerning lordship rights over a peasant named Joan de Magerova.(54) Two years later, Bernat was involved on behalf of his patron in the financial aftermath of the devaluation of the money of Barcelona. In May 1223, Bernat acquitted himself of the firmancia or guarantee that he and Pere Gruny and Pere, sacristan of Barcelona, had pledged to Berenguer de Pauses and Bernat Suavis for a debt of Guillem de Montcada.(55) But these were among Bernat's last appearances; he was succeeded as vicar of Barcelona after his five-year term by Berenguer Burget.

Bernat Barutí was without doubt the most important fiscal administrator for Guillem Ramon de Montcada and his son Guillem de Montcada in the period 1209 to 1225. As lender guarantor or administrator, he served the Montcadas in their financial dealings with others. Was he simply a man of means "investing" his capital in the prospect of a better political future for his lords? Such creditors had existed before, like the Montpellier-based Guillem Leteric, who bankrolled the numerous interventions of Alfons I in Languedoc and Provence during the 1160s and 1170s. It is possible that Bernat Barutí was a man of this mold. But whatever his origins and background in financial administration -- and there is evidence that either he or a man with the same name was royal bailiff at Vic in 1189(56) -- he first served the Montcadas as bailiff in 1209. And in 1214 he still held this function, subscribing a grant of land by Guillem Ramon de Montcada and his son Guillem to the cowherd Pere de Mata.(57) Yet within five years he had become intimately involved in Montcada finances at every level and was about to receive a royal post as well.

It is difficult to explain Bernat Barutí's phenomenal success. Had he merely done very well as an administrator, or was his background or family origin the key to his fortune? It is hard to tell, given the few known details about Bernat's early career. But it is clear that as bailiff he demonstrated financial expertise. He may also have been instrumental in generating reserves of money sufficient to cover the extraordinary expenses of his lords as they arose; if this is so, it would follow that managerial techniques such as rent-farming could have supplied the necessary cash flow if expertly administered. These were, in any case, good years for the Montcadas from a financial point of view. Whether the credit for this should largely go to Bernat Barutí is impossible to prove. Nevertheless, the years following Bernat's departure from the management of Montcada financial affairs were precisely the years in which Guillem de Montcada complained the most of unrelenting impecuniousness.

The Fiscal Elements of Lordship

The administrative structure of Montcada domains -- that is, the social hierarchy of lords, castlans, knights, and bailiffs -- was ultimately supported through the efforts of the peasants. It was the peasants who paid rents on their lands, dues to their lords, tenths to the church; and it was they who suffered from any number of mals usos. Though each of these fiscal exactions had its own history, in the twelfth century all of them pertained to the prerogative of lordship and made up part of the "basket" of incomes that was emptied by successively higher members in the peasants' hierarchy of superiors.

The most basic and constant income resulting from the exercise of lordship came from rents on the land. These rents were apportioned for the most part in fractional shares of grain, pairs of hens, and cured hams paid by tenants. A large percentage of the take undoubtedly was consumed by those for whom the rents were collected: knights, castlans, and feudatories. But the rents also provided stores of foodstuffs that the Montcadas or their friends and agents could consume during periodic rounds. Though it is impossible to know what percentage of the total was used in this way, it almost certainly was substantial, especially at the focal points of the lord's operations in a particular region. Thus such lordships as Montcada and Vic might have been preferred temporary residences in Old Catalonia for the Montcadas, serving as depots for maintenance and revictualling much as the comital estates of Sant Pere de Vilamajor served the counts and their friends as a relay or transit station.

[177] At Vilamajor, the comings and goings of Catalonian notables was accounted for during the twelfth century, and a surviving piece of this record sheds some light on the nature of the operation there. During the period June 1156 to April 1157, the author of the account listed the amounts spent on visitors like Maria de Béarn, future viscountess and wife of Guillem de Montcada [II]; Guillem de Sentmenat; Ot Seneschal, brother of Guillem Ramon, accompanied by a party of nobles, squires, and others; and a party of squires and merchants of "Guillem Ramon." These parties consumed grain, meat, fowl, peas, oil, candles, and fodder at the expense of the count of Barcelona.(58) Though this kind of account does not exist for Montcada domains, it is possible to obtain an idea of the amounts and kinds of rent remitted by peasants in Old Catalonia from the capbreu of Muntanyola and from evidence gleaned from a variety of other documents.

In addition to rents on the land, lords in Old Catalonia collected many other dues, including labor services, such as at Muntanyola;(59) banalités such as the forge-usage,(60) the oven-usage,(61) and other fees;(62) and rights of hospitality. The rights of hospitality, known generally in Catalonia by the name albergas were not inconsequential; this is clear from the measures taken by ecclesiastical lords around Montcada to prevent the imposition of albergas upon their lands or men by the castle lords. The value of such rights led Archbishop Olleguer in 1131 to trade an honor near Montcada for a renunciation by Guillem Ramon Seneschal and Beatriu of the "albergas, services, and usages that the count has or [178] they have from him" -- hospitality that in fact was not even due them -- in an allod of the chapter in Vilapiscina and its territory .(63) Eleven years later Guillem Ramon repeated the same renunciation to Barcelona's Bishop Arnau, receiving in compensation an honor in the district of Montcada that Berenguer Ramon de Riba had given up to the cathedral canons.(64) The abbot of Sant Cugat was also plagued during these years by the problem of undue hospitality to the lords of Montcada. In 1132 he added to a donation of a manse the warning that the recipient should not acknowledge another lord besides himself, and that he should not "give in this manse of Saltels any food to the lords of Montcada nor receive them with honor."(65)

Rights of hospitality were one way castle lords could impose additional burdens upon the communities of peasants they ruled. Another way was to tax the surplus products that peasants could trade in local fairs. As early as 1104, Guillem Ramon [I] had won a concession from the bishop of Vic of part of the revenues generated at such occasions(66) -- a concession that ostensibly was limited to his lifetime but that in fact continued to raise money throughout the twelfth century for Guillem Ramon [II] and succeeding Montcada lords of Vic. In the 1160s Guillem Ramon [II] founded or augmented the Montcada fair by transferring to Matabous a fair that had previously been held at Sant Cugat. This move required the consent of the monastery, which stipulated that "our house of Sant Cugat be permitted to buy all that is necessary for it without toll, custom, or any usage." Further, the monastery retained one-tenth of the incomes generated by the fair except for those pertaining to the administration of justice, which the Montcadas received in full. The division of proceeds led the parties to agree that no income could be collected except in the presence of the bailiffs of both Sant Cugat and Montcada. In return for this "gift," Guillem Ramon and his son Guillem de Montcada agreed to be the "faithful men" of the monastery and to defend its honor.(67)

It is possible that the monastery later repented of the decision or simply found the fair at Montcada too distant, for in September [179] 1173 the monks received permission from Alfons I to establish a weekly market on Wednesdays in Sant Cugat. The market, which Alfons took under his "tuition, protection, and defense," was declared free of tolls, usages, and lordships from any other party, the count-king and his successors included -- an injunction that may have been directed at the neighboring lords of Montcada. But the document showed the family's assent to the new institution: the unmistakable autograph signature of Ramon de Montcada [I].(68) Though the market no doubt introduced some competition to commerce at Montcada, it did not jeopardize the fair, which continued to generate revenue for the Montcada lords, both from taxes of various kinds and from rents on buildings and plots of land.(69)

Another income for the lords of Montcada came from church tithes. Though these were theoretically raised for the church, they had come to be considered fiefs of the castle lord under whose protection the parish priest served. In Vacarisses, for instance, Guillem Ramon in 1155 gave as fiefs to Ramon de Castellet the churches of Rellinars and Santa Engràcia and one-fourth of the church of Sant Feliu de Vacarisses.(70) Because of their financial interest in these tenths, the lords of Montcada specified in some transactions to which parish a piece of land was tithable.(71) These rights of lordship were apparently common enough that the abbess of the convent of Sant Pere de les Puelles raised no objection in 1145 to an exchange of allods with Guillem Ramon that included their tithes.(72) This was to her advantage, for though the tithes collected in Guillem Ramon's allod would reach him either directly or through the Montcada church of Santa Engràcia, those that she raised in her island allod in the Besòs at the foot of Montcada presumably would go directly to the coffers of the convent in Barcelona.

Though the diversion of clerical tithes to territorial lords was long established by the twelfth century, some voices rose in opposition to the practice. In 1162 the rector of the church of Sentmenat complained to the bishop of Barcelona that the tenths levied [180] in his parish should go to him and not to the castlà, Pere de Solio. Pere responded that in times of war with the Moors the men of the parish had fled to the castle for protection, so that by the wishes of the preceding bishops and counts of Barcelona the tithes had been given to the castlà. Bishop Guillem ruled that this donation was no longer valid -- that the pope had recently declared that laymen could not possess tithes without consent of the Holy See. Pending an appeal to the pope, the bishop agreed to let the castlà collect the tenths on his own property, but he stipulated that thirty quarteras of wheat should be paid to the rector. He added that the castlà had no claim whatsoever to first fruits in the parish.(73) The ultimate winner in this case is not recorded, though it seems safe to surmise that, had any large-scale departure from past practice occurred, a thick dossier of litigation would have been left behind.

In addition to incomes from rents, banalités, and tithes, the lords of Montcada and their agents profited from the administration of justice. This right, which was delegated by the lord to his castlà, produced fines shared by the lord (two-thirds) and the castlà (one-third).(74) Did anything remain of the comital system of justice that a century before had bent to the attack of increasingly independence-minded territorial lords? No evidence exists for comital involvement in justice exercised in Montcada lands; and the fact that Ramon Berenguer IV recognized Guillem Ramon's rights to justice in one of the count's fields at Vic also suggests a negative response.(75) But would the counts and count-kings of the twelfth century make no effort to regain the rights wrested from them by territorial lords a century before? Though the matter is not well documented, a charter dated in the reign of Alfons I suggests that the lords of Montcada no longer adjudicated major crimes, and that appeals for default of justice were regularly directed to bailiffs of the count.(76) This charter exists only in early fourteenth-century copies, and the text as it survives can be suspected of falsification. If it was falsified, this may well have been done in connection with a dispute between king and barons over rights of high justice that developed during the late thirteenth century -- a topic that deserves consideration elsewhere.

[181] A final group of revenues from the exercise of lordship in Montcada domains can be lumped under the heading of exactions. This term covers forced levies of agricultural produce, head or hearth taxes, property transfer levies, and collections of the mals usos. The least arbitrary of these in the twelfth century seems to have been the questa -- another levy on harvests, but one distinguishable from toltas and forcias, which retained their arbitrary nature in the twelfth century.(77) But local variation was possible. Count Ramon Berenguer IV in 1147 promised Guillem Ramon that neither he nor his agents would levy toltas, forcias, questas; nor unleash mounted contingents (in a cavalcata) in a field acquired by Guillem Ramon at Vic.(78) This pledge indicates that in at least one instance questas were still considered arbitrary.

There seems to have been no ambiguity about the nature of toltas and forcias, however. These levies figured prominently in a complaint lodged sometime between 1157 and 1172 against the castlà Ramon de Castellet, who was accused of witholding "new toltas" and other rights from his lord. Ramon was specifically charged with exacting forcias from his men: "wheat, oats, grass, wine, oil, and many other [products] which [Ramon] should not have received there."(79) But if Ramon's actions were "injuries" in the mind of the author of the memorial, this was because he raised the exaction for his own account, gaining profits not shared with his lord.(80)

It was thus not the fact of submitting a locality to forcias that was questioned. Indeed, this right was granted by Guillem Ramon, Beatriu, Guillem de Montcada, and Otto Bernat Ermengol de Freixanet, who in 1135 received the Puig de Guardia and the honor of Guardia in the castle district of Orís.(81) Forty-five years later, Bernat Ermengol's son and grandson renewed their agreements concerning the Puig de Guardia. For doing forcias there, the Freixanets were again provided compensation from proceeds of the castle of Orís: "and it is agreed that we give to you and yours [182] for aid in administering this forcia five sestars (measure of Vic) of wheat, and moreover we give to you and yours such power and license that you may conduct men from the castle of Orís to effectuate this forcia."(82) This agreement made plain that the forcia was a substantial operation that probably resulted in proceeds larger than those guaranteed to the feudatory. The difference, like the surplus above two kaficia in the proceeds from the tenth of Arno and the locidum at Sentmenat, would have remained as profit for the Montcada lords. That forcias were maintained as much for them as for the administrator is clear in an injunction added by Bernat de Freixanet to his will in 1197: "and if [the heirs] shall do a forcia at Conanglel [castle district of Orís] let no damage arise for Guillem Ramon."(83)

Another exaction prevalent in Montcada domains was the acapte.Unlike questas, toltas, and forcias, levied on harvests, the acapte was a tribute paid personally by the subjects of a lord.(84) When the monastery of Sant Cugat contested Montcada claims to rights over the peasant named Joan de Magerova, the monastery produced charters of "acquisition or acapte" and called witnesses to testify that Joan lived in its manse of Magerova. Bernat Barutí, however, arguing the Montcada side, claimed "possession and dominion of the man" and showed the tribunal a Montcada "charter of acapte" that he said proved that "Joan and his [ancestors] obtained tenures from the predecessors of Guillem de Montcada and were held to make their home there [in Montcada]."(85) By acquiring property from a lord, therefore, a peasant became the lord's man and was liable for dues payable at the time the relationship was established. How often the acapte was levied cannot be ascertained from Montcada domain records, though, like many such taxes, it may have become periodic. If so, it perhaps came to resemble the tax paid by men of various social ranks who turned to the lords of Catalonia during the second half of the twelfth century for guarantees of personal protection. Such a relationship was established with a charter of amparantia, which extended the lord's protection to the contracting party in return for an annual payment. This form of contract was frequently used by Alfons I [183] during his reign. It was also employed by Guillem Ramon de Montcada, who in 1187 pledged to "maintain and defend" Berenguer de Arenys for an annual tribute of 12 deniers in addition to an initial payment of 20 sols.(86)

The acapte was a personal or "head" tax; the stabilimentum focused on the property aspect of the relation between lord and peasant. Stabilimenta were given in return for "establishing" the new tenant on his land.(87) Other occasional levies maintained the lord's control over changes in the occupancy of his lands. When peasants bought land, the lord could require a terch de honorem,or one-third of the price of the property.(88) Similarly, lords were quick to seek compensation when their lands were given to ecclesiastical institutions -- which diminished the value of the land for revenue purposes and usually gave rise to a "donation" of a sum of money from the institution involved.(89)

A last group of usages were the mals usos, which in the twelfth century most commonly included the intestia (payment of one-third of an inheritance when a person died intestate), the exorquia (right of a lord to succeed to an inheritance in the absence of legitimate heirs), and the cugucia (right of a lord to confiscate one-third of the property of an adulteress).(90) These were mentioned together in a document of 1226, but by that time they had a long history.(91) Though there are no known incidences of cugucia in Montcada domains, the other two levies left perceptible traces in the documentation. Even before the case of Pere de Palau, who died without heirs in 1136, Guillem Ramon and Beatriu had acquired an allod per exorquia.(92) By mid-century, Ramon de Castellet had been accused [184] of depriving his lords of Montcada of their third part of "intestiis et exorchiis et stabilimentis."(93) And in 1174 a Montcada bailiff settled disputes that revolved in part around "intestads sive exorchias."(94) These cases seem to indicate a progressive extension of the mals usos in Montcada lands; and by the late twelfth century they appear as routine elements of domain administration.

Money and Credit

A manner of "direct" administration of domain profits evolved into a mixed system, by which the incomes of some districts were sold for cash to bailiffs or rent-farmers, during the period 1120-1230. Three factors may have influenced the change. First there was the Great Seneschal's increased political involvement in the affairs of the count of Barcelona, which shifted his attention away from the management of his domains. This necessitated both prolonged absences from his estates in Catalonia and more cash resources. Second, the rise in status of castlans and the expansion in Montcada domains of intermediate categories of feudatories almost certainly led to increased consumption of the profits of lordship, making it even more important to manage carefully those reserved for the lords of Montcada. Third, the heightened status of the descendants of the Great Seneschal, and their wide involvement in Pyrenean and Mediterranean political and economic ventures, required greater expenditures than ever before. The extension of Montcada lordship to the viscounty of Béarn and to New Catalonia helped, but the total costs could be met only by exploiting to the fullest the central elements of the Montcada patrimony. How did the Montcada lords of the twelfth century meet their long- and short-term needs for liquid resources? How did their balance sheet appear by the time of Guillem de Montcada's death at Mallorca in 1229? These questions can be answered by studying the two major credit operations available to the Montcadas: pledging land or its resources against payments in cash, and contracting unsecured loans.

Pledges of Land

The Great Seneschal's raising of profits from his domain appears to have been "direct." That is, bailiffs collected Montcada incomes in kind or coin and disposed of them according to Guillem Ramon's orders. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it can be assumed that Guillem Ramon's bailiffs remitted to him most incomes in money but were allowed to stockpile and perhaps sell rents received in kind. Guillem Ramon could thus combine the advantages of centralized resources (money) with diversified stocks of food that could sustain him and parties of followers during periodic visits to his estates. Though this kind of management apparently served the Great Seneschal well, even during his lifetime there were indications of new directions for the administration of domains under his descendants.

The practice of pledging land and its income as collateral for loans was not new in the late twelfth century, but had existed in Catalonia for at least two hundred years.(95) Even so, the Great Seneschal was only occasionally involved in such transactions, usually remaining a net creditor. To be sure, he had joined his brother Ot and his father Guillem Ramon [I], in pledging their dominicatura at Gurb to one Arnau Arnau for 100 morabetins a few months after his marriage to Beatriu de Montcada.(96) But he also loaned money under such conditions, as when Count Ramon Berenguer IV pledged his dominicatura in Osor to the seneschal in return for 4,000 sols.(97) On another occasion, the viscount of Cardona accepted 2,000 morabetins from Guillem Ramon against his castle of Brull in Osona.(98)

Guillem Ramon's own pledges were for much smaller sums and may have been inspired by other considerations than the simple need for money. Apart from three pledges of 40, 100, and 200 morabetins that he is known to have made in 1143, 1148, and 1167,(99) the only other occasions on which he pledged land were when the monastery of Santa Maria de l'Estany lent him 100 morabetins in 1138 and 115 morabetins in 1166.(100) On both occasions the pledge [186] consisted of the seneschal's share of profits from the castle district of Muntanyola. It is tempting to assume that, in the two transactions, the monastery "bought out" whatever rights Guillem Ramon still maintained in the castle district. He might have found such an option preferable to continuing a joint administration with Estany. If this hypothesis is correct, then Guillem Ramon was in essence amputating from the Montcada patrimony an honor whose lordship already had been confused and splintered when held by previous Montcada lords -- and an honor that recently had become an object of the expansive ambitions of the neighboring monastery.

The lordship of Muntanyola, which in the early eleventh century had been held entirely by Guillem de Montcada, apparently had been destined for division among his sons. When Berenguer Ramon de Montcada acquired the Montcada lordship around 1085 from his father, Ramon Guillem de Montcada, and his older brother, he found that his two surviving uncles still held the one-third share of Muntanyola that he felt should devolve to him from his father.(101) This share should have been acquired by Guillem Ramon [II] through his marriage to Beatriu de Montcada, but the seneschal claimed half of Muntanyola in his dealings with Estany in 1138. Just prior to leaving for the Holy Land the year before, however, Ramon Renard de La Roca had given the monastery his right to two-thirds of the castle, effective after his death or before if he should decide to remain in Jerusalem.(102) Therefore, it was far from clear how much of the castle district each claimant was entitled to when the abbot of Estany acquired power over the Muntanyola castle district sometime during 1138 or 1139. Guillem Ramon, reduced to half of the lordship or less, may have decided that its profits were too insignificant to justify maintaining a bailiff there, and that his financial interest could be served best by simply [187] farming out his rights to the neighboring monastery. The price that he received apparently satisfied him for years to come, for not until 1166 did he negotiate an additional loan of 115 morabetins. The document stipulated that the term for repayment would begin after completion of the first harvest; but there is no indication that the Great Seneschal ever repaid either sum or that he exercised effective rights at Muntanyola after the initial transaction in 1138.

The deaths of Ramon Renard de La Roca and Guillem Ramon Seneschal did not end the involvement of Montcada lords in the castle district of Muntanyola. In 1190, three years after the monastery granted a manse there without recognizing any Montcada rights,(103) Guillem Ramon de Montcada sold to Estany his half-share in the manses in Muntanyola and acknowledged the monastery's ownership of the other half. The transaction brought him 128 morabetins.(104)A year later, Estany "loaned" him 108 morabetins. In return for that sum, the monastery received in pledge from Guillem Ramon "whatever we have or ought to have and [that which] men and women hold from us in the castle of Muntanyola and all its district.(105) The ambiguity introduced into the question of lordship rights by that formula was resolved eight years later, when Guillem Ramon de Montcada "donated," for 307 morabetins and one mule, "all my part and all my rights, claims, and Muntanyola" and in the district's knights, men, women, and appurtenances. The college of priests further agreed to include Guillem Ramon and his relations in all its masses and prayers.(106) With this donation, Montcada rights should have come to an end at Muntanyola, though Guillem Ramon de Montcada seems to have believed that he still had some transmittable claim when he made out his will in 1215. In that document he left to Estany "the castle of Muntanyola with its dominicature and appurtenances" so that the monastery could endow a priest there.(107)

Also in the 1190s, along with pledging his rights and finally selling them to Estany, Guillem Ramon de Montcada pledged his castle district of Sant Marcal and Arraona in the Vallès.(108) These transactions, which attest to his impecuniousness at the time of his [188] opposition to King Alfons and the viscount of Cardona, netted him 450 morabetins and 1,100 sols, respectively. Though the transactions were urgently needed then, they did not help to consolidate domain management or regularize income. In them Guillem Ramon placed the castle districts with their rights, proceeds, and lordship in the power of his creditors until he could repay the sums advanced. Under these conditions, he should have strived to redeem the pledges as promptly as possible. But he did not redeem the castle of Sant Marcal until April 1205, when he found it necessary to "refinance" his outstanding pledges in order to cover the expenses of his trip to England. In a charter of that date issued at Huesca, Guillem Ramon acknowledged owing to Bernat Andreu and his son Bernat 7,200 sols, of which 120 marks of silver (5,280 sols) remained from debts contracted earlier. To compensate for this debt, Guillem Ramon pledged his castle of Vacarisses with its appurtenances and parishes "just as Bernat Rubí bailiff holds it from me in pledge." Finally, he allowed Bernat Andreu to redeem the pledges held by Guillem d'Espiell and Bernat Rubí and to recover the amounts repaid in the pledges held by the other two creditors.(109) In this way Guillem Ramon replaced three creditors with one and raised an additional 1,920 sols.

By 1208, Guillem Ramon de Montcada had again been obliged to pledge an important element of his patrimony for cash. The transaction was concluded with Ponç d'Alest, the creditor of 1198, who on this occasion received in pledge the castle district of Castellar in return for 4,000 sols.(110) The charter was issued in the name of both Guillem Ramon de Montcada and his son Guillem de Montcada, to whom the care of Montcada domains had fallen during his father's prolonged absence. And it appears that the son discharged his responsibilities with diligence, for by 1209 he could pay 7,200 sols to acquire the castle of Lliça from Ramon de Subirats.(111) The document of purchase bore the subscription of Bernat Barutí, bailiff at Vic, who in February 1215 became the first known Montcada creditor to accept the proceeds of a pledge in repayment for a loan. For 52 marks of silver and 154 morabetins, Bernat received [189] the pledge of Montcada revenues in Vic and in the castle districts of Tona and Montcada, to hold and exploit "until you should be well paid for the above to the last denier."(112) This document inaugurated a new regime of financial management -- one that enabled the lords of Montcada to receive cash payments in advance when they granted rights to specific revenues. The formula was repeated a year later, when Guillem Ramon de Montcada and his son Guillem pledged the castles of Torelló and Montcada in a transaction that again helped restore financial liquidity to the lords of Montcada.(113)

This system of debt repayment was continued in 1222, when Guillem Ramon recognized a debt of 3,000 sols of Jaca to Ramon Reposter and ordered his squire Arnau Rubí to assemble as much of the sum as possible from proceeds in Aragon.(114) Another incident occurred four years later, when Guillem renegotiated an old pledge held by Berenguer and Pere de Turricella; in the charter the brothers agreed to accept revenues in Vacarisses in full repayment for the 200-morabetin debt still owed to their late father.(115) In 1229, Maimon Gombau advanced 1,000 sols to Guillem de Montcada that were to be recovered in the revenues of the slaughterhouse and meat stalls of Barcelona and in his half of the proceeds from the castle of Mataró, from Sant Vincenc, and from Vilassar.(116) And in March of that year Guillem recalculated the balance due to Philip de Maiols from pledges made by his father, Guillem Ramon de Montcada. Including the returns that Philip and his father had already received from the pledges, Guillem reckoned his outstanding balance at 22,000 sols doblenc, which he agreed to pay by the first of June; otherwise, it was agreed, Philip would continue to enjoy the rights in Vic and Tona assigned to him by terms of the pledge.(117) The attractiveness of applying proceeds from a pledge to retirement of the principal of a debt explains why Guillem stopped offering pledges of land to creditors who demanded both income [190] from the pledge and full repayment of the debt. But the results of this change were not all positive for the Montcadas: in some cases lenders now openly charged high interest rates on sums advanced in periods of greatest need.

Unsecured Loans

Besides loans secured by pledges of land, the twelfth-century lords of Montcada also had recourse to advances of cash or material loaned without collateral. Even Guillem Ramon [II] borrowed for immediate need: 100 morabetins were advanced by Ramon de Olives "in Gascony," and a mule worth 30 morabetins was provided by Ramon Hug.(118) The Great Seneschal had other debts with a variety of origins. In 1136 he acknowledged owing to Bernat Ermengol de Freixanet 1,156 morabetins and a helmet and sword. The armor had apparently been given to Arnau de Tornamira at Guillem Ramon's request, and the sword had replaced one abandoned by Bernat Ermengol when he was captured with Guillem Ramon near Melgueil.(119) But in general, Guillem Ramon only rarely needed to borrow. His debt to Ramon de Subirats in 1167 was small (78 morabetins), as were the debts of his brother Ot (100 sols) and his wife, Beatriu (12 morabetins), to Ramon Hug in 1128.(120) More impressive than his own debts were the sums due him. By the time of Guillem Ramon's death, King Alfons owed him 2,000 morabetins for expenses incurred by the seneschal on royal business in Provence; 2,200 sols of Melgueil for expenses incurred at Montpellier; and 100 morabetins, payable by the abbot of Sant Feliu.(121)

Guillem Ramon's grandson Guillem Ramon de Montcada and his great-grandson Guillem de Montcada were less successful in keeping their financial ledger sheet in black. Their debts were usually both larger and more costly than those of the Great Seneschal, especially during times of monetary flux and political unrest. In August 1213 Guillem de Montcada contracted a loan of 2,000 sols from the brothers Bernat and Guillem Guerau, who openly stipulated an interest rate of 100 sols per month (60 percent per annum!) [191] if the principal had not been paid by Christmas 1213.(122) By this time the period of steep monetary devaluation that had accompanied Pere I's surreptitious debasement of the coinage was over -- the loan was contracted in deniers of Barcelona at 44 to the mark of silver(123) -- but the rate of interest suggests both desperation by the borrower and uncertainty about the future on the part of the lender. Nearly ten years later Guillem de Montcada again borrowed a large sum of money, this time 1,000 morabetins from Ramon Reposter, who demanded repayment in gold and interest of 20 morabetins per month (24 percent per annum) should the loan not be repaid within six months. Even though the loan came on the heels of a recoinage from which Guillem de Montcada had profited, he was still short of liquid funds. His creditor was perhaps all the more wary on this account and required the debtor to make innumerable guarantees, among them that he would not keep the lender through "deceit, fraud or subtility of words" from holding "hostages" for the loan.(124)

In the seven years from 1222 to 1229, Guillem de Montcada continued to jockey for the leading place among Jaume I's counselors, even when pursuing that goal led him into serious financial difficulty. His politics ultimately succeeded, but not without costs that he covered in many instances with borrowed funds. The loans varied widely in size, from 200 sols doblenc in 1224 to 2,500 sols doblenc in 1225.(125) The year 1226 was particularly costly for Guillem; he not only borrowed 7,000 sols from Bernat de Montreial, but he also recognized debts of 4, 700 sols to Ramon de Sant Martí and 2,000 sols to Bertran de Vallès.(126) Finally, in 1229, Guillem borrowed 1,800 sols of Barcelona from Maimon Gombau that were due five weeks after the "first feast of the Holy Peace."(127)

What was Guillem de Montcada's financial condition in the months before his fateful participation in the conquest of Mallorca? [192] The impression that he left this world heavily in debt is borne out by an act of Jaume I in October 1230 that aimed to bring order to the finances of Guillem's widow, Garsenda, and to prevent "the greatest detriment to the property of [his] heirs." In this act Jaume appointed receivers for Guillem's estate to take charge of the existing debt, which included not only Guillem's loans but also some that remained from his parents, Guillem Ramon de Montcada and Guilleuma de Castellvell. Each May, receipts from Montcada domains were to be given to the abbot and brothers of Santes Creus, who would distribute them to creditors "according to the quantity of the debts."(128) Guillem de Montcada's financial condition at his death was exactly the opposite of that of his great-grandfather, Guillem Ramon [II] Seneschal. Whereas the latter died with large sums still owed to him, Guillem died a debtor. And although the Great Seneschal forgave parts of the royal debt contracted by Alfons, the family of his great-grandson benefitted from royal dispensations in settling accounts with creditors.

It is difficult to see how so drastic a change could be due to the altering of administrative procedures followed by the Montcadas. These changes were moderate and were designed to increase, not reduce, cash incomes. Nor does it appear that Catalonia suffered from general economic decline in the period 1175-1230. The problem seems to have been an increased need for money on the part of the Montcadas -- a need that was satisfied by pledges and loans. These expedients threatened to diminish the material legacy of the Great Seneschal by the year 1230.

Notes for Chapter Six

1. See O'Callaghan, Medieval Spain, pp. 282-83.

2. See below, ch. 7.

3. ACA RB IV: 101, referring to the castle district of Muntanyola.

4. For example, CSC 3:139-40:959.

5. ACA Alfons I:11, e.g., "In tali conventu facimus vobis istum donum ut habeatis et possideatis et teneatis et expletetis et bene laboretis vos et vestris per vos omnique tempore." This kind of language became increasingly common in charters of the latter half of the twelfth century.

6. CSC 3:108:921.

7. ACA Alfons I:452.

8. LlB 380-81:379.

9. ACA Jaume I:358.

10. ACA Alfons I:133.

11. Duby suggests that the southern manse was a late institution, following the improvement of agricultural technology. It thus did not become susceptible to division as did Carolingian units, which were later capable of supporting more than one family (Economie rurale et la vie des campagnes dans l'occident médiéval [Paris, 1962], 1:210), and English trans. Rural Economy and Country Life in the Medieval West [Columbia, S.C., 1968], p. 118).

12. ACA S. Llorenç:281.

13. ACA RB IV:174.

14. In 1228 a donation "ad laborandum" by Bernat Vita to Joan Ponç de Serra included a manse and two other allodial properties (ACA Jaume 1:345).

15. See Catalogne, pp. 576-80.

16. ACA RB IV:284.

17. Hinojosa, El regimen señorial y la cuestión agraria en Cataluña durante la edad media (Madrid, 1905), esp. pp. 40-45; Bonnassie, Catalogne, esp. pp. 233-47.

18. ACA RB III:204.

19. ACA RB IV:92.

20. Barley: e.g. ACA S. Llorenç:281; wheat: a reference to "triticum" in ACA Ext. inv. 3116 and to "frument" in ACA RB IV: 101. For oats, the word "avena" was sometimes used, but the term "cibaria" or "cibata," which may include other grasses as well, was more common (ACA Ext. inv. :3116). Also see Glossarium mediae latinitatis Cataloniae, s.v. "cibaria" and "civata" (cols. 493-96).

21. ACA S. Llorenç: 290bis. The terms of this land transaction required sharing a portion of the "bread and wine" with the lord.

22. ACA S. Llorenç:261; ACA Ext. inv.:3116.

23. A "manse of Canyamares [hemp]" is mentioned in 1150 ("Casa," p. 132, citing ACA Arm. 1:79). Both hemp and flax figure in a document of 1228 (ACA Jaume I:345).

24. ACA RB IV:70; ACB Div. C/d/2019, capsa 18; ACA RB IV: 101.

25. ACA Ext. inv.:3116. The cured ham or perna is most frequently cited, but so are shoulders or espatllars.

26. Levies by lords of capons or hens were widespread in the twelfth century.

27. The term manse iouer suggests a yoke of oxen (ACA Alfons I:115). Presumably goats or cows provided milk for the cheese mentioned at Muntanyola in 1138-39 (ACA RB IV:101).

28. In 1121 a mule was evaluated at 30 gold morabetins (ACA S. Llorenç:254bis); horses cost around 100 morabetins each.

29. ACA RB IV:101.

30. See Map 3. The place names that appear on this map were in the capbreu of 1138-39.

31. On proportional rents, see Catalogne, pp. 254, 579.

32. Compare Duby, L'economie rurale, 2:469-72, English trans. Rural Economy, pp. 237-38.

33. Catalogne, p. 254.

34. Usatge 12, which probably dates from the first half of the twelfth century (Bonnassie included it among those of "ancienneté douteuse" (Catalogne, p. 726]), distinguishes non-noble bailiffs from noble bailiffs who ride a horse and eat wheat bread.

35. ACA Alfons I:11.

36. ACA Alfons I:16.

37. ACA RB IV:133.

38. ACA Alfons I:11, 16.

39. ACA Alfons I:84.

40. In 1171 Berenguer subscribed a pledge of land at the Templar house of Palau-solità (ACA Alfons I:115).

41. ACV C.6:2653.

42. ACV C.7:38.

43. ACA Pere I:424.

44. ACA Jaume I:32.

45. ACA Jaume I:51.

46. ACA Jaume I:53

47. AHN SS Creus, carpeta 2776, n. 14. The others were Bernat de Manlleu, Ramon de Tornamira, and Pere de Santa Eugènia, all nobles and feudatories of the Montcadas.

48. ACA Jaume I:122, 123.

49. ACA Jaume I:126.

50. ACA Jaume I:128.

51. ACA Jaume I:141.

52. ACA Jaume I:138.

53. ACA Jaume I:139.

54. CSC 3:411-12:1297.

55. ACA Jaume I:213.

56. ACA Alfons I:527.

57. ACV Masies de Voltregà, uncatalogued parchment of 1 Dec. 1214.

58. ACA s.f. RB IV:16.

59. If Muntanyola is representative, however, regular labor services were not an important economic aspect of territorial lordship.

60. ACB Lib. ant. 2:53v-54r:143 (Mas 11:44:1482).

61. Although the oven-usage fee or furnaticum is not attested in Montcada lordships in Old Catalonia, it almost certainly flourished there before its establishment in New Catalonia. A document of 19 Feb. 1170 provides evidence of its existence at Tortosa (ACA Alfons I:100). See also Agustín Coy y Cotonat, "El derecho llamado 'Furnatico' en el siglo XIII," in Congés d'història de la Corona d'Aragó: Barcelona, 1909 (Barcelona, 1913), 1:190-93.

62. The usage of firewood, collected at the market of the monastery of Santa Maria d'Amer, was retained by Guillem Ramon [II] in 1173 when as a pious gesture he canceled the albergas (rights of hospitality) and other services he had had there ("Casa," p. 138).

63. ACB Lib. ant. 2:54v:147(Mas 11:11:1409).

64. ACB Lib. ant. 2:54r-v:145 (Mas 11:66:1534).

65. CSC 3:108:921.

66. ACA RB III:80.

67. CSC 3:214-15:1049.

68. ACA S. Llorenç:320.

69. The amounts are not specified in a document of 1225 that granted a percentage to Durfort d'Espiells (ACB Div. C/d/1564, capsa 16).

70. ACA RB IV:284.

71. ACA S. Llorenç:281.

72. ACA RB IV:174.

73. ACA Sentmenat: Dominio y jurisdicción de Sentmenat, A4.

74. ACA RB IV: 284; ACA Archivo Casteildosrius: 18.

75. ACV C.6:15972.

76. ACA Alfons I:291.

77. ACA RB IV: 101. Bonnassie attested an annual proportional questa by the end of the eleventh century (Catalogne, pp. 590-91).

78. ACV C.6:15972.

79. ACA Ext. inv.:3116.

80. The complaint cites Ramon's "injuries" to his lords, Guillem Ramon [II] and Guillem de Montcada, not to their peasants.

81. ACA Archivo Castelldosrius:4.

82. ACA Archivo Castelldosrius: 18.

83. ACA Pere I:20.

84. See Catalogne, 591-92.

85. CSC 3:411-12:1297.

86. ACA Alfons I:452.

87. Stabilimenta were mentioned after intestie and exorquie in the complaint against Ramon de Castellet (ACA Ext. inv.:3116). The only time a stabilimentum was described in detail in Montcada lordship documents was in 1126, when Guillem Ramon [II] and Beatriu sold property acquired through exorquie to the church of Sant Salvador de Munt for 24 morabetins. In this case the church gave a stabilimentum to the castlà, Pere Ramon, of three measures of barley and spelt, one quartera of wheat, one "bacon," and two sestars of wine (ACV C.6:1166).

88. ACV C.6:2653; ACV Masies de Voltregà, an uncatalogued parchment of 1 Dec. 1214.

89. For example, ABC 2838 4-V-3.

90. Hinojosa, Regimen, pp. 234 and 237-39.

91. ACB Div. C/d/2812, capsa 22.

92. ACV C.6:1165.

93. ACA Ext. inv.:3116.

94. ACV C.6:2653.

95. See Catalogne, pp. 399-409.

96. ACA RB III:204.

97. DI 4:129-30:55.

98. "Casa," p. 138.

99. CSC 3:134-35:952; ACV Lib. dot. 51r-v; ACA Alfons I:46.

100. ACA RB IV:90, Alfons I:33.

101. ACA BR II:18.

102. ACA RB IV:78. Ramon Renard could claim two-thirds of the castle district by inheritance from his father, Renard Guillem de la Roca, and his uncle Bernat Archdeacon. Bernat had given his share to the See of Barcelona in 1089 with the proviso that it be reserved for the use of his nephew "Renard" if he became a cleric. This Renard apparently died before making a career in the church, and his brother Ramon Renard recovered the one-third share for himself, despite provisions in Bernat's charter reserving it for the see (ACB Lib. ant. 3:92r:239).

103. ACA Alfons I:437.

104. ACA Alfons I:549.

105. ACA Alfons I:605.

106. ACA Pere I:51.

107. AHN SS Creus, carpeta 2776, n. 14.

108. ACA Alfons I:643, 644.

109. ACA Pere I:211.

110. ACA Pere I:300.

111. ACB Div. C/d/3968, carpeta 5. Of the 7,500 sols, 4,000 were needed to redeem the castle from a pledge.

112. ACA Jaume I:32.

113. ACA Jaume I:53. The document is severely damaged and only partly legible, and the exact amount advanced is unreadable.

114. ACA Jaume I:200.

115. ACB Div. C/d/2812, capsa 22.

116. ACA Jaume I:3822.

117. ACA Jaume I:398.

118. "Casa," p. 138; CSC 3:84-85:892.

119. ACA RB IV:53.

120. LlB 135-37:133, CSC 3:84-85:892.

121. "Casa," p. 138.

122. ACB Div. C/d/2627, capsa 21.

123. For analysis and chronology see Thomas N. Bisson, "Coinages of Barcelona, 1209-1222: the Documentary Evidence," in Studies in Numismatic Method Presented to Philip Grierson, ed. C.N.L. Brooke et al. (Cambridge, forthcoming).

124. ACA Jaume I:202 (document bearing marks of cancellation).

125. ACA Jaume I:221, 258 (document bearing marks of cancellation).

126. ABC 1643, caja 1; ACA Jaume I:300, 301.

127. ACA Jaume I:3821.

128. Huici, 1:255-56:140[79].