Ransoming Captives in Crusader Spain:
The Order of Merced on the Christian-Islamic Frontier
James William Brodman
War, Raids, and Ransoming
Bougie and the other western ports became crowded with captives,
the roads rang with the noise of their chains,
especially when the unfortunates, bound with irons and chains,
poured out of their quarters to work at their daily tasks.(1)
This fourteenth-century account of captivity by the Berber historian Ibn Khaldun describes a phenomenon that was a constant in the life of the western Mediterranean from antiquity until the demise of the barbary pirates in the nineteenth century. The threat of capture, whether by pirates or coastal raiders, or during one of the region's intermittent wars, was consequently not a new but rather a continuing threat to the residents of Catalonia, Languedoc, and the other coastal provinces of medieval Christian Europe. So persistent and ordinary was this problem that individual instances of capture rarely elicited much notice beyond allusions in chronicles and wills.
Capture could occur at any time or place that marked the convergence of hostile peoples; in the context of the medieval Mediterranean, this conflict was increasingly between Christian and Muslim peoples. The creation of a powerful Islamic state in the eighth century, its collapse and subsequent retreat before the expanding Christian kingdoms of Spain in the eleventh century, and the prevalence of a religious antagonism that arose from the Berber revivalism and Christian crusading movement of the twelfth century gave raiding and warfare in Spain and the western Mediterranean a religious dimension. Thus, by the twelfth century a captive was almost axiomatically a slave of his religious enemy -- a Christian held by a Muslim or a Muslim enslaved by a Christian. Capture was the result of warfare that was random and intermittent in nature; periods of nominal peace and of normal commerce alternated with years of  formal conflict. Along the shifting frontier that came to delimit the zones of Christian and Islamic power, one can identify perhaps three occasions that might give rise to the capture of a Christian or of a Muslim: formal battles, raids, and piracy.
Between the capture of the strategic city of Toledo
by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085 and the completion of the medieval reconquest
by Fernando III of Castile and by Jaume I of Catalonia-Aragon around the
mid-thirteenth century, military activity along the land frontier that
separated the Christian and Islamic zones consisted of two types. There
were great battles like those of Zallaca (1086), Valencia (1102), Uclés
(1108), Saragossa (1118), and Fraga (1134). These, though marking periods
of great danger and of intense military activity, were sporadic. Almost
annual in their occurrence, however, were the raids and other forays that
militias, bands, and armies from both sides made against the towns, property,
and persons of their enemy.(2)
Battles of course had the potential individually to produce many more captives than could raids. Muslim chronicles, for example, tell us, with obvious medieval exaggeration, that the victorious forces of the Muwahhid caliph Ya'qub captured between five and twenty-four thousand Leonese and Castilian soldiers at Alarcos in 1195.(3)
Probably more devastating than these major catastrophes to the Christian population, however, were the raids and sieges that were much more frequent in occurrence, the sort of minor skirmishes that had as their purpose the seizure of captives and other booty as much as the winning of territorial advantage. The chronicles have left us with accounts of the casualties produced by this type of campaign. Thus, for example, the last of the Murabit sultans, Tashufin (1143-45), in a raid against Toledo, attacked the castle of Azeca and in the process of taking it, killed three hundred of its Christian defenders and sent the rest off as captives to Córdoba and then to Morocco.(4) In another series of raids, 'Ali ibn Yusuf (1106-1143) assaulted the Christian towns of Talavera, Olmos, and Canales and took many captives and much booty.(5) A raid by the Muwahhid fleet against Lisbon in 1181 yielded twenty ships, much booty, and a host of Christian captives,(6) while Alfonso VIII's forays in Andalusia in 1182 are said to have brought him over two thousand Muslim captives and 2,775 dinars in ransoms.(7) Ibn Khaldun reports that in 1195 the Muwahhid army took nearly five thousand Christians captive near Badajoz. In another raid against Lisbon in 1189, the Muwahhid caliph Ya'qub al-Mansur is reputed to have left with three thousand female and child captives,  while his governor of Córdoba, in a subsequent attack upon Silves in 1191, won three thousand prisoners and fifteen thousand head of cattle.(8) In Aragon, Enecho Sanç de Laues tells us that early in the twelfth century he, his wife, and two children were taken prisoner in a Muslim raid upon Huesca.(9) The Catalan church of Santa Maria d'Ullà was pillaged by Muslims in 1178, and those of its canons not killed were sent into captivity on Majorca.(10) The count-king Ramon Berenguer IV lost his own brother, Berenguer Ramon, in a raid upon Melgor in 1155.(11) The thirteenth-century chronicler Pero Marín, a monk of the abbey of Silos, reports numerous examples of the somewhat-random capture of travellers, raiders, and others caught by Muslims in the open countryside: two dependents of the Knights of Calatrava caught in 1266 while driving cattle, Gil Pérez de Motos and his companions captured while raiding on the outskirts of Granada in 1280, and Ramon de Muler seized along with his mule and ass on the road to Lorca in 1285.(12) These and the numerous other examples contained in the medieval sources illustrate the pan-Iberian character of the phenomenon; any Christian or Muslim near the frontier zone stood in at least some danger of capture.
Far better documented than these instances of capture on land are those perpetrated later along the coast or at sea in the western Mediterranean. Pirates and privateers -- it is often difficult to distinguish between them -- from the North African ports of Bône, Tunis, Oran, and Bougie, among others, and from Majorca and Almería, for centuries harassed the waters of the region and would continue to do so long after the military successes of Jaume the Conqueror and Fernando III had secured the more-inland regions of Iberia. The failure of these thirteenth-century Christian monarchs to eliminate the peninsular enclave of Granada and to extend the reconquest to its allied states in North Africa meant a continuation of border conflict and its traffic in captives. Thus, to the somewhat sketchy account that we have of twelfth-century peninsular captivity, we can add a much more detailed description of maritime piracy of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Despite certain differences of time and circumstance, however, these later events reveal a commerce in captives similar to that of the twelfth century.
The extension of the wars of reconquest from interior battlefields to the Granadan periphery and to the high seas marks only a new phase in a continuing Christian-Islamic struggle, because the new seats of Muslim military activity in North Africa had always been associated politically and culturally with Hispanic Islam. In the  twelfth century, for example, the unity between peninsular and African Islam that had been achieved under the Murabits and Muwahhids can be seen in the free flow of Christian captives from one region to the other. Christians captured by the Murabit sultan Tashufin at Azeca, for example, were taken first to Córdoba in Spain and from there to Morocco.(13) Even after the collapse of this trans-Mediterranean Berber empire in the early thirteenth century, the movement of Christian captives from Spain to Africa continued. Pero Marín, for example, tells us of Esteban de Matrera, who, after his capture in 1285 on the road between Arcos and Jérez, was taken to Tangiers, and of Aparicio de Plasencia, who, during seven years of captivity between 1284 and 1291, found himself in Málaga, and then in Ceuta and Tangiers before returning to Málaga.(14) By all accounts, however, direct pirate attacks from African ports became relatively more important as Islamic territory in Spain shrank and as Christians reoccupied the coastal regions of Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, and the Balearics.
Christian shipping and populations were the targets of pirates, who presumably worked for their own gain, and of more official naval forces of Muslim sultans and emirs. Ibn Khaldun has left us a description of how the former operated. Groups of North Africans, the Berber historian tells us, built ships and chose brave leaders, who then led them in attacks upon the coasts of Spain, France, and Italy.
They arrived by surprise and took off all they could get their hands on; they also attacked the ships of the infidels [i.e., the Christians], very often seizing them and returning with them filled with booty and prisoners.(15)A confirmation of this from the Christian side comes in Pope Clement III's letter of April 22, 1188, in which the crusader's indulgence was granted to those of Tarragona who defended the city against the raids made each summer by Muslim pirates.(16) Concern for coastal defense against such incursions also motivated Jaume I to approve in 1257 the appointment of an official by the city of Barcelona to supervise such preparations, and surely is an explanation for the patent issued to one Guillem Grony of Barcelona in 1263 that gave this seaman license to prey upon the lands and ships of Tunis.(17)
The Catalan chronicler Ramon Muntaner tells us that such raiding was also the work of Muslim potentates. Late in the thirteenth century, for example, ten galleys of the sultan of Morocco, raiding from the port of Ceuta and now loaded down with Christian  captives, met four Catalan galleys outbound from Valencia. These, commanded by Corral Llança, had been sent to collect tribute owed to Catalonia-Aragon by the rulers of Tunis, Tlemcen, and Bougie. Having met, the two small fleets fought "a hard and cruel battle" until the Catalans prevailed; the latter then freed the Christian captives and took the Muslims as prisoners to Valencia.(18) The count-king Pere III, in a complaint to the sultan of Tlemcen of May 27, 1366, tells us that this Muslim ruler had detained a number of Catalans in retaliation for the capture of several of his subjects by Catalan raiders.(19) In another incident, Muhammad V of Granada in 1369 seized at Almería a Valencian merchant named Antoni Despens because the former suspected that Antoni's ship had previously attacked a Granadan vessel outbound to Honein in Africa.(20)
The occasions of capture were therefore multitudinous. Crossborder and coastal raiding, land and sea battles, piracy, and the detention of otherwise peaceful merchants all were causes of captivity. Whatever the particular circumstances of a captive's seizure, however, his ultimate fate was much the same -- slavery. The experience of Esteban de Matrera, a Christian captured in 1285, is perhaps typical. His captor took him to Algeciras, where he was sold to one Bovac the Hunchback for four doblas; his new master then transported Esteban to Tangiers, where he was sold to a resident for eight doblas.(21) A similar fate befell a Muslim of Honein, who was seized in the early 1360s by a galiot captained by Bernat Martí of Denia. The Muslim was taken to Cagliari in Sardinia and there was sold to Esteve Sa Basa for thirty-two livres; the new master then returned to Barcelona with his slave.(22) Slavery was the invariable result of captivity because those so taken were considered to be spoils of war to be used or sold to the profit of the captor.(23) Consequently, the plight of a captive was unhappy and is so portrayed in the medieval sources. Bishop Gaufred, in his 1137 appeal for alms from the Christians of Barbastro, explained to them:
For he who has been captured by the Saracens is led to Lérida bound in iron chains, and afflicted with hunger and thirst and various sufferings, and is at last to be imprisoned as a slave.(24)The widow Dadil of Barcelona described herself as a "miserable captive."(25) Enecho Sanç de Laues speaks of his family's six-year ordeal as one of languishing in chains, hungry and thirsty.(26) In 1327, the Catalan captives at Tlemcen wrote to their king, Alfons III, that the physical torments of captivity made death seem preferable to life.(27)
 Some captives, particularly those who found honorable employment with their Muslim lords, evidently were able to maintain their Christianity. Reverter (1090-1142), a Catalan noble taken captive by the Murabits, served the Muslims as commander of all Christian mercenaries and eventually became a general in the army of the sultan, 'Ali ibn Yusuf (1106-1143).(28) But less fortunate individuals might be tempted to forswear their faith in order to escape from captivity. Pope Honorius III appreciated the danger of apostasy in his letter of 1226 to Archbishop Rodrigo of Toledo that recommended that mendicant friars be sent to Morocco to strengthen the faith of Christians being held captive there.(29) In Catalonia, laws that made it far easier for a Muslim slave owned by a Jew, rather than by a Christian, to become free upon conversion testify -- by their attempt to preserve the property rights of Christian masters -- to the liberating effects of baptism.(30) Normally, the captive's ability to convert was limited; exceptions were made principally for those captives whose freedom would be useful, as for example soldiers. Another option for the captive was escape, but few attempted this route, because the price of failure, usually the loss of a nose or an eye, was higher than most were willing to risk.(31)
The most practical means for a captive to gain freedom was redemption, i.e., through the payment of a ransom in money or in kind, or through the exchange of a suitable captive held by the other side. Redemption was an ancient practice, for which provision was made in both Roman and Visigothic law.(32) While instances of redemption are found in the intervening centuries,(33) it is not until the twelfth century that redemptionism, i.e., the organized effort to free captives through ransoming, arose in the Iberian peninsula. This effort to institutionalize and regularize what had been chiefly a private endeavor was itself a response to the increasingly bitter Muslim-Christian conflict engendered by crusader enthusiasm and Berber revivalism. The twelfth century therefore began to produce increasing instances of capture, which in turn led to attempts to organize the means of redemption. The natural desire on the part of the captive and his family for liberation combined with the inclination of captors to turn a profit from the now-abundant supply of prisoners made redemption a mutually acceptable alternative to the slave market. Certainly a captive would place a higher value upon himself than would any third party.
The approaches to the ransoming of these twelfth-century captives were numerous, and they varied somewhat by region. Monarchs, municipalities, military orders, merchants and other individuals, all attempted to free captive Christians from the towns and  lands of Islam. The most visible means was the general prisoner exchange that might take place at the conclusion of a period of hostility, as Ibn Khaldun reports happened after a Berber raid near Badajoz in 1195.(34) Such mass liberations, however, were rare; more typical seem to have been more-modest negotiations that led to the release of much smaller numbers. The pioneers in arranging for such ransomings in twelfth-century Spain were the frontier municipalities of the trans-Tagus region of Castile and of the middle Ebro valley of Aragon. Their charters of settlement (cartas pueblas) and municipal law codes (fueros) chronicle their collective effort to preserve the property rights of captured residents and to help in raising a ransom and conveying it to the captor.
As early as the Castilian fuero of Escalona (1130) and the Aragonese fuero of Calatayud (1131), towns tried to guarantee the right of a captive's family to purchase at a fair price a locally held Muslim slave who could be exchanged for the Christian.(35) While the terms of the purchase varied by region, municipal regulation of these transactions to the benefit of the captive appears in both the Cuenca-Teruel and the Leonese-Extremaduran-Portuguese families of fueros.(36) Towns felt a particular responsibility toward their own militiamen who were captured in battle, and in various ways offered captured Moors, livestock, or shares of the booty as contributions toward their ransoming,(37) and all such slaves or money or goods were exempt from normal municipal and royal taxes.(38) The towns, furthermore, placed upon the captive's family some obligation to attempt his redemption, but also limited the obligations of sons and especially of daughters to stand as sureties or substitute captives for parents.(39)
In addition to laws designed to help provide a captive with a ransom, these frontier towns also sought to facilitate the actual negotiation of a redemption. To this end, town councils made use of those Christian and Muslim merchants who maintained the flow of trade across the military frontier. As early as 1104, the count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer III, granted a monopoly over ransomings between his and Islamic lands to four Jewish merchants.(40) The towns of the Aragonese and Castilian frontiers also relied upon merchants, to whom they gave the title of exea, an arabic word that means guide or companion.(41) First appearing in the carta puebla of Belchite (1116), this official became in the Cuenca-Teruel fueros the commander of the recua, a commercial caravan that carried merchants, along with their goods and livestock, between Christian and Islamic towns. Among the exea's responsibilities were the conveyance of ransoms to  Muslim captors and the safe return of Christian captives to their home towns. In return, he was paid a commission amounting to a fifth of monetary ransoms, or a single gold maravedí if the redemption involved the exchange of a Muslim for a Christian.(42) An identical official, the alfaqueque, appears in the fueros of the Leonese-Extremaduran-Portuguese tradition, also as a merchant-redemptioner.(43)
In the thirteenth century, after the frontier had moved to the periphery of Granada, the sole remaining Islamic state in the peninsula, the exea and the alfaqueque became less municipally licensed merchants and more royal officials. This shift in their patronage can doubtless be explained in terms of the relative weakness of southern municipalities, but this in no way changed the redemptionist function of the office. Guillem d'Antist, for example, was nominated in 1273 by Jaume I as exea for southern Valencia and was charged with the duty of conveying Muslims safely into and out of the kingdom; in 1300 Jaume II appointed Joan de Barbastro as exea for trade between Murcia and Granada; and in 1371 Pere III sought freedom for Berenguer des Archs, an exea who had been ransoming captives between Ibiza and Granada.(44) Two charters of Pere II dated in 1277 tell us something of Muslim exeas. In the first, of August 3, the CataIan monarch granted permission to two Muslims to reside permanently in Valencia to arrange for the ransoming of their coreligionists held there; in the second, dated October 21, a Muslim is thanked for negotiating the redemption of Pere de Moncada, the master of the Templars.(45) For Castile's frontier with Granada, the Ordenamiento of Toro of 1369 speaks of an alfaqueque mayor of the lands of the Moors. By the fifteenth century, we have examples of such officials and of their delegates, or alfaqueques menores, to whose care smaller segments of the frontier were given.(46) Thus, at least until the end of the Middle Ages, there existed in the alfaqueque and exea a publicly licensed official who was able to carry out ransomings by virtue of the safe-conduct that permitted his secure crossing of the frontier and of his oath to act honestly and justly.
With the Christian occupation of much of the northern coast of the western Mediterranean, captivity after the mid-thirteenth century increasingly occurred at sea and at the hands of Muslims from Granada and North Africa. One explanation for this increased incidence of piracy was the necessity of maintaining the slave populations of the Maghreb at a time when land captures had begun to decrease.(47) To win the release of these captives, the kings of Christian Spain began to negotiate treaties with Muslim rulers that both  forbade such activity during periods of mutual truce and also provided for the release of any subject improperly taken captive. Typical of these agreements was that signed on May 8, 1309 between Jaume II and Abu Zakariya' of Bougie. This five-year truce stipulated that each side release the captured residents of the other to a designated representative; for the Catalans this was to be the Dominican friar Francesc de Relat.(48) An earlier agreement, that between Pere II and the sultan of Tunis in 1285, closed their respective ports and slave markets to pirates who preyed on the shipping of the two realms, and guaranteed safe passage to their merchants.(49) These agreements provided some relief to captives. Jaume II, for example, ordered in 1305 the release of a Tunisian ship that had been pirated by the Catalan merchant Simó Ricart.(50) Pere III in 1366 also ordered that a Muslim named Zohra be freed along with her sons because of the truce currently in force between Catalonia and Tlemcen.(51)
These treaties, however, were often violated and thus provided no sure immunity from capture. Tunis, for example, claimed that its treaty with Catalonia, signed in 1301, was violated on nineteen occasions by Catalans between 1303 and 1305.(52) Some infractions could arise from disputes over the treaty's terms, as when the sultan of Tlemcen in 1365 seized a party of Majorcan merchants at Oran on the grounds that they had also been in Morocco, a state then at war with Tlemcen.(53) But other violations grew out of a ruler's inability or unwillingness to police his own subjects. In 1365, for example, two Majorcan vessels entered the port of Ténès and, in violation of the current truce, captured fifteen Muslims, five of whom were later redeemed at a cost of 280 gold dinars.(54) Diplomacy, therefore, served only to limit the threat of capture. The fact that these treaties routinely included mechanisms for freeing captives and stipulated that piratical actions alone would not be enough to break the peace suggests the impossibility of halting entirely the traffic in captives. The economic interest created on both sides of the Mediterranean by slave labor and by ransoms was simply too great to be overcome through diplomacy alone. With this assumption as a given, the prudent course was to reduce the enterprises of capture and redemption to a routine of business, and this the treaties hoped to accomplish.
Royal and municipal intervention in the business of redemption, while useful in opening up channels for ransomers, usually failed to provide the means of redemption, the ransom itself. Exeas and alfaqueques especially had to be paid a commission in excess of the ransom price itself. Thus those without families or means might well be  denied the benefit of this type of assistance. For those unable to afford the cost of redemption, twelfth-century society devised a second method, organized by the Church. This was accomplished by elevating ransoming from a work of civic importance to an act of religious charity that was meritorious in God's eyes. Contemporary crusading ideology, with its sharp distinction between Christians and the infidel Moor, supplied this religious dimension. The new attitude toward captives can best be seen in the manner in which the documents designate captives. Whereas in most pre-twelfth-century sources the word "captive" is used without modifier, those of this era begin to describe captives in religious terms.(55) With captives now numbered among the religiously deserving, various efforts to raise alms for captives begin to appear along the twelfth-century frontier.
One of the first efforts to apply the institutions of religious charity to ransoming grew out of the initiative of Alfonso VIII of Castile and of Alfons I of Catalonia-Aragon to entrust this work to the military orders of their realms. The Spanish military orders, through their Palestinian antecedents, had inherited some commitment to hospitaller work; it was this interest in charitable deeds, combined with their fortuitous location within the frontier zone, that made these religious knights potential redemptioners. But the initiative for them actually to undertake the task came from Alfonso VIII (1158-1214), who established a number of religious ransoming centers in the trans-Tagus region of Castile and entrusted these to the knights of Santiago. The first so-called Hospital of Mercy was founded and royally endowed at Toledo in 1180; a second appeared in 1182 at Cuenca, a third at Huete in 1198, a fourth at Alarcón in 1202, and a fifth at Moya in 1215. By 1227 there were seven frontier hospitals operated by Santiago. The king of León, Alfonso IX, evidently saw the value of these redemptionist centers, and himself established two during his drive into Extremadura, one at Castrotoraf and another at Salamanca.(56) Santiago was by far the most active redemptioner among all of the Spanish military orders, with its seven Castilian, two Leonese, and perhaps three Aragonese hospitals.(57) Another order, however, also took up the work. In 1188 Alfons I established the ransoming hospital of the Holy Redeemer at Teruel and placed it in the care of the small order of Mountjoy.(58) The Knights of Calatrava seem to have had by 1214 a ransoming hospice at Évora in the Portuguese Alentejo and another at Salvatierra in the Sierra Morenas.(59) Only Alcántara of the Spanish orders is not known to have engaged in this work.
 Military redemptionism, to so designate this activity, advanced the development of organized ransoming in three ways. It marks the first royal intervention into the work of ransoming. By establishing and endowing such hospitals, these Hispanic monarchs acknowledged the seriousness of captivity and thus society's general responsibility to promote redemption. That these hospitals of mercy were entrusted to religious orders helped to establish ransoming as a legitimate and meritorious work of charity that was properly the work of the entire Christian community.(60) Finally, military redemptionism, tied closely as it was to individual municipalities, was the charitable complement to the other facilities offered by these same towns to their more-affluent captured residents. Its particular association, however, also meant that the scope of military redemptionism would be limited to the southern Meseta, for in the thirteenth century, when the frontier had passed out of this region and into the south, these same hospitals quickly fell into decadence.
Their place, however, was taken by a far more complex series of movements that grew out of the new twelfth-century caritative spirituality. Essentially a popular and laic force that seems to have originated in the Occitan, this movement saw great religious importance in the alleviation of material and human suffering. Thus this era saw the creation of as yet uncounted confraternities, hospices, hospitals, and religious orders that looked after the needy, lepers and the sick, travellers and pilgrims, bridges and highways, orphans and young women of marriageable age, and those too old to look after themselves -- all were considered worthy of alms and assistance, as they were the "poor of Christ."(61) During the twelfth century, captives, for reasons already discussed, came to be included among Christ's poor and thus worthy recipients of Christian alms.
The treatment of captives as Christ's poor and the resulting religious and ecclesiastical interest in ransoming appear first and most prominently in Catalonia, where as early as 957 the canons of Vich were admonished to assist captives. The twelfth-century development of hospitallerism and of laic charitable confraternities that scholars have noted on the French side of the Pyrenees has its parallels in this region as well. In Barcelona, for example, a hospital to serve the poor and pilgrims that was attached to the local cathedral demonstrates that the bishop and his chapter had systematically begun to distribute alms to the needy as early as 1024.(62) To this early foundation were added in the twelfth century three other hospitals of local origin, another attached to the Antonines, and a confraternity  that itself endowed in 1210 yet another hospital for the poor. Three more hospitals arose in the early thirteenth century, one of capitular foundation, another episcopal in origin, and a third established by the Mercedarians. Thus, by the 1230s there were eight hospitals and hospices in Barcelona that dispensed alms to a variety of the needy: the indigent, travellers, orphans, the aged, and captives.(63) Outside of Barcelona itself, other charitable confraternities also developed and have been noted at Urgel, Tarragona, and Tortosa and at the monasteries of Montserrat, San Marsal de Montseny, and Sant Cugat.(64)
Twelfth-century wills provide ample testimony that Catalans had come to consider captives, alongside the poor, to be fit objects of their charity, and statistical studies of thirteenth-century wills confirm what was emerging in the twelfth.(65) Most such bequests to captives, however, as only one of several to worthy caritative causes, were modest in amount. Two wills are typical of those of the era. The first, redacted in 1144 by Berenguer of Ripoll, came from the hinterland of Catalonia. Among its bequests were a bed to be given to the hospital at Narbonne belonging to the Order of St. John; a lance, shield, sword, and a small amount of money for the Templars; two morabetins each to the church of Ripoll, the monastery of Sant Cugat, and the bishop of Barcelona; thirty morabetins for masses; and twelve morabetins for ransoming one captive.(66) A resident of Barcelona, Berenguer de Fontallada, in a second example, left in 1205 his bed and linen to the hospital of Sant Dionís; 70s. to the confraternity of Santa Maria de Caro, with a surplice and hood to its chaplain; 25s. to his own parish church, with smaller grants to the other churches of the city; 10s. for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; and 100s. for ransoming captives.(67) That these bequests to captives were thus considered to be as meritorious as those to churches and hospitals is confirmed by a sacristan of Barcelona who in 1180 left to the archbishop of Tarragona 100s. "so that he might redeem for my soul one captive or if he wishes two."(68) Given the essentially religious motivation behind these grants, their beneficiaries are anonymous; any of Christ's poor would presumably qualify. In a few instances, however, specific captives are singled out for this charity.(69) The frequency with which both types of bequests appear in Catalan wills indicates that in this region ransoming had come to be considered an important work of mercy and thus the responsibility of all Christians. It is only in this light that the decision of a cobbler of Barcelona, Guillem Estrany, to adopt God, the poor, girls of marriageable age, and captives as his universal heirs becomes comprehensible.(70)
 What happened to the money so bequeathed to captives? Many wills, like those of Arnau de Castanyer of Lérida (March 29, 1249) and Ramon Ferrer de Marí of Barcelona (April 24, 1277) leave the distribution of funds to the discretion of executors, who are instructed to give the money to captives of their acquaintance.(71) The funds could also be given to a monastery or to a caritative institution of some sort. In 1198, for example, Guillem de Granada left an endowment to the monks of Poblet for use in alternating years to clothe the poor and to ransom captives.(72) Or, in 1172 or 1173 Guillem Colrat bequeathed ten morabetins to a confraternity of captives, presumably to a caritative association of some type that specialized in this work.(73) Since most of the bequests were small in amount (a sampling from the cathedral archives of Barcelona shows amounts between 5 and 100s.),(74) an individual gift would frequently not suffice for a single ransoming.(75) Consequently, to be effective most bequests would have to be pooled. Indications are that this was done by the local bishop, who, as the chief local dispenser of alms, assumed this responsibility for aiding captives. Only a few wills actually mention this episcopal role,(76) but other evidence suggests its existence. Archbishop Benet de Rocabertí of Tarragona, for example, acknowledged in 1256 that he and his predecessors had been collecting and dispensing ransoming bequests.(77) What little evidence we have suggests that the bishop himself had nothing to do with ransoming directly, but instead turned money over to a captive's family, which then became responsible for negotiating the release. This is at least the impression gained from the contracts signed in 1244 between Bernat Gras and, among others, the chaplain of Tarragona. The former was given 200s. as the ransom price of a captive to be freed from Almería, on the condition that the money be returned if not actually used.(78)
In the thirteenth century, in much the same manner that the old cathedral alms hospitals came to be supplanted by new caritative institutions, episcopal redemptionism was replaced in the main by the work of the new orders. Urban growth, perhaps a higher level of caritative consciousness, and certainly the bishop's own increasing institutional responsibilities meant that the local organization of charity was no longer entirely within his limited capabilities. Thus, there arose alongside the new hospitaller orders of St. Anthony, the Holy Spirit, Roncesvalles, Aubrac, and others, the redemptionist orders of the Holy Trinity and of Santa Eulàlia of Barcelona. The former, founded by John de Matha at Cerfroid, northeast of Paris, was approved by Pope Innocent III in 1198, and its members came to  work as hospitallers and as ransomers in thirteenth-century France and Spain.(79) In Catalonia, Trinitarians can be documented at Lérida as early as 1212 and as ransomers here by 1217.(80)
The Order of Trinity would never become as important in Catalonia-Aragon, however, as it was in medieval Castile, where major foundations were quickly established at Burgos, Toledo, and Segovia. Its failure to win parallel support in the eastern realms may reflect a certain animus on the part of the House of Barcelona toward the Order's Gallic roots. In any case, when captivity again became a critical concern here as a consequence of the reconquest's renewal by the ambitious Jaume the Conqueror, there existed in Catalonia-Aragon no well-established redemptionist order.
1. Ibn Khaldun, Histoire des Berbères et des dynasties musulmanes de l'Afrique septentrionale, ed. Paul Casanova and Henri Pérès, trans. William MacGuckin, baron de Slane (Paris, 1925-56), 3: 116-17.
2. For a good summary of the reconquest, see Charles Julian Bishko, "The Spanish and Portuguese Reconquest, 1095-1492," in A History of the Crusades, vol. 3: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, ed. Harry W. Hazard (Madison, 1975), 396-456.
3. Ambrosio Huici Miranda, Historia política del imperio almohade (Tetuán, 1956-57), 1:368.
4. Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris, ed. Luis Sánchez Belda (Madrid, 1950), 109, 85.
5. Ibid., 79, 102.
6. lbn Khaldun, 2:204.
7. Huici Miranda, Imperio almohade, 1: 286.
8. lbn Khaldun, 2: 213; Roudh el-Kartas [lbn Abi Zar' al-Fasi], Histoire des souverains du Maghreb, trans. M. Beaumier (Paris, 1860), 307-8.
9. José María Lacarra, "Documentos para el estudio de la reconquista y repoblación del valle del Ebro (segunda serie)," Estudios de edad media de la Corona de Aragón 3 (1947-48): 515.
10. Jaime Villanueva, Viage literario á las iglesias de España (Madrid and Valencia, 1803-52), 15:215.
11. Pedro Marfilo, Historia de la corona de Aragón ... conocida generalmente con el nombre de Crónica de San Juan de la Peña, ed. Tomás Ximénez de Embrun (Saragossa, 1876), 124-25.
12. Pero Marín, "Miraculos romanzados," in Viday milagros del thaumaturgo español Moysées segundo, redemptor de cautivos, abogade de los relices partos, Sto. Domingo Manso, abad benedictino, reparados del real monasterio de Silos, ed. Sebastián Vergara (Madrid, 1736), 136, 150-51, 164-65.
13. Chronica Adefonsi, 85.
14. Marín, "Miraculos," in Vergara, Vida y milaqros, 161, 154.
15. lbn Khaldun, 3:116-17.
16. Josep Blanch, Arxiepiscopologi de.santa eglésia metropolitana i primada de Tarragona, ed. Joaquín Icart (Tarragona, 1951), 1:112-13.
17. Procesos de las antiguas cortes y parlamentos de Cataluña, Aragón y Valencia, ed. Próspero de Bofarull y Mascaró (Barcelona, 1847-51), 2: 119, no. 45; José María Ramos y Loscertales, El cautiverio en la Corona de Aragón durante los siglos XIII, XIV, y XV (Saragossa, 1915), iii.
18. "Crònica de Ramon Muntaner," in Les quatre grans cròniques, ed. Ferran Soldevila (Barcelona, 1971), 683-84.
19. Charles-Emmanuel Dufourcq, "Catalogue chronologique et analytique du registre 1389 de la chancellerie de la courronne d'Aragon, intitulé 'Guerre sarracenorum 1367-1386' (1360-1386)," Miscelánea de Textos Medievales 2 (Barcelona, 1974): 85-86, no. 77.
20. Ibid., 100-101, no. 137.
21. Marín, "Miraculos," in Vergara, Vida y milagros, 161.
22. Dufourcq, "Guerre sarracenorum," 76, no. 37.
23. Diccionario de Historia de España, ed. Germán Bleiberg, 2nd ed. (Madrid, 1968-69), 1: 623. According to the Code of Tortosa (9.8.5) Muslim captives could be sold privately or publicly, and this servile condition was passed down to children through their mother: Antonio Aunós Pérez, El derecho catalan en el siglo XIII (Barcelona, 1926), 153.
24. ES, 47: 287.
25. ACB, Liber Antiquitatum (hereafter Lib. Ant.), 4: 48v.
26. Lacarra, "Documentos de Ebro," 515.
27. Ángeles Masía de Ros, La Corona de Aragón y los estados del norte de Africa: política de Jaime II y Alfonso IV en Egipto, Ifriquía y Tremecén (Barcelona, 1951), 472-73, no. 173.
28. Chronica Adefonsi, 82.
29. Manuel Castellanos, Apostolado seráfico en Marruecos, ó sea Historia de las misiones franciscanas e aquel imperio desde el siglo XIII hasta nuestros días (Madrid, 1896), 716-17.
30. J. N. Hillgarth, The Spanish Kinqdoms, 1250-1516 (Oxford, 1976-78), 1: 87.
31. Charles-Emmanuel I)ufourcq, L'Espagne catalane et le Maghrib aux XIIIe et XIVe siècles (Paris, 1966), 75.
32. See, for example, the law of Diocletian that stipulates that anyone who buys a captive must free him upon repayment of the purchase price or the completion of not more than five years of servitude: Silvo Romano, Redemptus ab hostibiis (Rome, 1930), 5. An undated Visigothic law allows a commission of 20 percent of the ransom for anyone who frees a Visigoth from captivity: "Collectionis iuris Romano-Visigothici capita VII-XX (Fragmenta Gaudenziana)," in Leges Visigothorum, ed. Karl Zeumer, vol. 1 of Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Legum, Sectio I, Leges nationum germanicarum (Hanover and Leipzig, 1902), 471.
33. For a study of these, see Faustino D. Gazulla, "Moros y cristianos, algo sobre cautivos," Boletín de la sociedad castellonense de cultura 6 (1921): 209-17, 195-209, 266-72, 317-20; 11 (1930): 94-107, 201-10.
34. Some ten thousand prisoners, half Muslim and half Christian, are said to have been exchanged: lbn Khaldun, 2: 213.
35. "Fuero concedido a Calatayud por Alfonso I de Aragón en 1131," ed. Jose María Ramos y Loscertales, Anuario de historia del derecho español 1(1924): 413; "Fuero de Escalona," in Colección de fueros municipales y cartas pueblas de los reinos de Castilla, León, Corona de Aragón y Navarra, ed. Tomás Muñoz y Romero (1972 ed.; Madrid, 1847), 487. For a general discussion of municipal ransoming law, see my "Municipal Ransoming Law on the Medieval Spanish Frontier," Speculum 60 (1981): 319-30.
36. For example see El fuero latino de Teruel, ed. Jaime Caruana Gómez de Barreda (Teruel, 1974), 331-32; Fuero de Cuenca (formas primitiva y sistemática: texto latino, texto castellano y adaptación del fuero de lznatoraf), ed. Rafael de Ureña y Smenjaud (Madrid, 1935), 348-49; El fuero de Coria, ed. José Maldonado y Fernández del Torco (Madrid, 1949), 57; and "Fuero de Castel Rodrigo," Portugaliae monumenta historica (Lisbon, 1816-1936), 1: 893-94 (hereafter PMH).
37. For examples, see FCuenca, 654-55; "Fuero d'Alarcón," in Les fueros d'Alcaraz et d'Alarcón, ed. Jean Roudil (Paris, 1968), 434; and FCoria, 57; "Fuero de Castello-Melhor," PMH, 1: 936.
38. See FCuenca, 648 -49; Fuero de Béjar, ed. Juan Gutiérrez Cuadrado (Salamanca, 1974), 196; "Fragmentos del fuero latino de Albarracín," ed. Angel González and Inocenta González, Anuario de historia del derecho español 8 (1931): 487.
39. The fuero of Viguera and the Val de Funes, for example, disinherited a son who refused to attempt the redemption of his captive father: Fuero de Viguera y Val de Funes, ed. José María Ramos y Loscertales (Salamanca, 1956), 87. The Cuenca-Teruel tradition banned the use of daughters as substitute captives while a father attempted to raise his own ransom and also limited a son's responsibility in this regard to three years: FCuenca, 294-95; FLatTeruel, 307-8.
40. Die Juden im christlichen Spanien, Urkunden und Regesten, ed. Fritz Baer (Berlin, 1929-36), 1:7-8, no. 13.
41. Juan Corominas, Diccionario crítico etimológico de la lengua castellana (Madrid, 1954-57), 2: 462.
42. "Carta de población de Belchite," in Colección de fueros, 413-14. See the "fuero de exeas" contained in FCuenca, 784-85; FLatTeruel, 408-9 and El fuero de Teruel, ed. Max Gorosch (Stockholm, 1950), 375-76.
43. "Fuero de Salamanca," in Fueros Leoneses de Zamora, Salamanca, Ledesma y Alba de Tormes, ed. Américo Castro and Federico de Onís (Madrid, 1916), 162; FBéjar, 134; Los fueros municipales de Cáceres, su derecho público, ed. Pedro Lumbreras Valiente (Cáceres, 1974), law 400; "Fuero de Castello-Bom," PMH, 1: 789. The functions of the alfaqueque are also discussed in detail in Las Siete Partidas del rey Don Alfonso el Sabio, ed. Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, 1807), 2:336-39.
44. Catálogo de la documentación relativa al antiguo reino de Valencia, ed. Jesús Ernesto Martínez Ferrando (Madrid, 1934), 1:325, no. 1484; see also 332, no. 1516; Ramos y Loscertales, Cautiverio, 155-56; and Dufourcq, "Guerre sarracenorum," 105, no. 151.
45. Martínez Ferrando, Catálogo Valencia, 2: 65, no. 261; 2: 70, no. 284.
46. For the alfaqueques of the later Middle Ages, see Juan Torres Fontes, "Los alfaqueques castellanos en la frontera de Granada," in Homenaje a don Augustín Millares Carlo (Grand Canary, 1975), 2: 99-116.
47. Dufourcq, L'Espagne catalane, 71.
48. Antiguos tratados de paces y alianzas entre algunos reyes de Aragón y diferentes príncipes infieles de Asia y Africa, desde el siglo XIII hasta el XV, ed. Antonio de Capmany y de Montpalau (Madrid, 1786), 73-75.
49. Memorias históricas sobre la marina, commercio y artes de la antigua ciudad de Barcelona, ed. Antonio de Capmany y de Montpalau (1961-63 ed.; Barcelona, 1779-92), 2(l): 57, no. 38.
50. Andrés Giménez Soler, "Episodios de la historia de los relaciones entre la Corona de Aragón y Túnez," Anuari d'Institut d'Estudis Catalan1 (1907): 216.
51. Dufourcq, "Guerre sarracenorum," 87, no. 81.
52. Hillgarth, Spanish Kingdoms, I: 42.
53. Dufourcq, "Guerre sarracenorum," 81-82, no. 62.
54. Ibid., 83, no. 67.
55. For eleventh-century uses of "captive" see Faustino D. Gazulla, La Orden de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, estudios bistóricocríticos (1218-1317) (Barcelona, 1934), 36-38.
56. See my, "Military Redemptionism and the Castilian Reconquest, 1180-1250," Military Affairs 44 (1980): 24 - 27.
57. There were Aragonese foundations at Saragossa, Castiel, and perhaps at Teruel; see Regina Sáinz de la Maza Lasoli, La Orden de Santiago en la Corona de Aragón: La encomienda de Montalbán (1210-1327) (Saragossa, 1980), 126-27.
58. See A. J. Forey, "The Order of Mountjoy ," Speculum 46 (1971): 210-66.
59. Bullarium ordinis militiae de Calatrava, ed. Ignacio de Ortega y Cotes (Madrid, 1761), 44; Julio González, El reino de Castilla en la época de Alfonso VIII (Madrid, 1960), 1: 660.
60. Despite the royal and municipal endowments given to these hospitals, they still sought alms directly from individuals; see González, Alfonso VIII, 1: 622; Bullarium equestris ordinis S. Iacobi de Spatha, ed. Antonio Francisco Aguado de Córdoba (Madrid, 1719), 110.
61. This caritative phenomenon has yet to be studied in any general way, although numerous local studies have begun to shed light upon its workings in the Occitan; among these are Jacqueline Caille, Hôpitaux et charité publique à Narbonne au moyen âge de la fin du XIe à la fin du XVe siècle (Toulouse, 1978); Jean Pourrière, Les Hôpitaux d'Aix-en-Provence au moyen âge: XIIIe, XIVe et XVe siècles (Aix-en-Provence, 1969); and John H. Mundy, "Charity and Social Work in Toulouse, 1100-1250," Traditio 22 (1966): 203-87.See also the collection of studies contained in Assistance et charité, ed. M.-H.Vicaire (Toulouse, 1978).
62. Diplomatari de la Catedral de Vic, segles IX-X, ed. Eduard Junyent i Subirà (Vich, 1980), 254-56, no. 302; Sebastián Puig y Puig, Episcopologio la sede barcinonense (Barcelona, 1929), 380-81, no. 39.
63. A. Lambert, "Diocèse de Barcelone," Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. Alfred Baudrillart, A. de Meyer, and E. Van Cauwenbergh (Paris, 1912-), 6:695-96; Paul Kehr, "La Confraria de Santa Eulàlia del Camp," Miscelánea Mons. José Rius Serra, ed. José Rius y Serra (San Cugat del Vallés, 1965), 1:51-65; Lluís G. Feliu, "L'Hospital de Santa Eulàlia del Camp," Analecta sacra tarraconensia 11 (1935): 291-306.
64. Kehr, "Confraria de Santa Eulàlia," in Rius y Serra, Miscelànea, 1: 54-55.
65. For example, of 283 wills from the Cathedral Archives of Barcelona, 81 contained bequests totalling 2,056s. and 52 besants for captives; 10 bequeathed 2,830s. for the dowries of poor virgins; and 31 gave 1,396s. 6d. for the "poor of Jesus Christ": Carme Batlle and Montserrat Casas, "La caritat privada i les institucions benèfiques de Barcelona (segle XIII)," in La pobreza y la asistencia a los pobres en la Cataluña medieval, ed. Manuel Riu (Barcelona, 1980-82), 1:184.
66. Cartulario de "Sant Cugat" del Vallés, ed. José Rius y Serra (Barcelona, 1945-47), 3:142-43, no. 961.
67. ACB, Lib. Ant., 1: 326v, no. 936.
68. Ibid., 1: 56r, no. 117.
69. For example, in 1231 Guilleuma, the wife of Guillem Hug of Majorca, gave 10s. to the captive Castelloní de Forn: AHN, Clero, carp. 76, no. 15. In 1227, Ramon Ferrer of Barcelona left two hundred gold besants for the ransoming of Tomás de Colongia and Vidal de Vila de Polius: ACB, Cubic III, scrin 34, Tít. preposit. Aug., no. 142. In 1214, Tarragona's archbishop designated seventy gold mazmodins for ransoms, particularly, for one Francigena: Villanueva, Viage literario, 19: 269, no. 19.
70. ACB, Calix 32-B, 7a est, Testag, no. 157 (April 13, 1305).
71. ACA, Gran Priorat, arm. 28, no. 185; ACB, Cubic III, scrin 35, Tit. preposit. Aug., no. 142.
72. Cartulari de Poblet, ed. Joan Pons i Marqués (Barcelona, 1938), 159-61, no. 264.
73. ACB, Lib. Ant., 1: 86v, 110. 202.
74. Ibid., 1: 182r, no. 1485, and 3: 112r, no. 294.
75. A captive might fetch 150 to 200s. of Barcelona: Robert I. Burns, S.J., Medieval Colonialism: Postcrusade Exploitation of Islamic Valencia (Princeton, 1975), 30.
76. Pere, a sacristan of Barcelona, in 1188 stipulated that 100s. be given to the archbishop for the ransoming of one or two captives: ACB, Lib. Ant., 1: 56r, no. 117.
77. Bullarium coelestis, ac regalis ordinis B. Mariae Virginis de Mercede Redemptionis Captivorum, ed. José Linás y Aznor (Barcelona, 1696), 35.
78. ACA, Monacales, 2676: 136rv.
79. See my, "The Trinitarian and Mercedarian Orders: A Study of Religious Redemptionism in the Thirteenth Centurv" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, I974), 211-44.
80. . See the will of Pere de Vespella, October 23, 1212: ACA, Gran Priorat, arm. 28, no. 130; and that of Saurina de Claramunt (March 25, 1217), with its grant of 100s. to the Trinitarians for ransoming: ACA, Jaume I, perg. 73.