0 Contents 1 Background 1-6 Islam

 Freedom? 1-6-57

1-6-56 * The servitude of Jews and Muslims in the medieval Mediterranean : origins and diffusion

[article] https://www.persee.fr/doc/mefr_1123-9883_2000_num_112_2_9065

David Abulafia



Key Words








servi and servi militares
servi regie camere
servus camere regie


Freedom? 1-6-57

1-6-56 The servitude of jews and muslims in the medieval Mediterranean : origins and diffusion

[article] https://www.persee.fr/doc/mefr_1123-9883_2000_num_112_2_9065


The relationship between the concept of the Jew or Muslim as servus camere regie and other types of servitude remains unclear. This article first examines the early use of the terminology in the Spanish kingdoms and in Germany, England and France. For Germany, a close comparison with the status of the ministeriales suggests that the positive concept of honourable service to the crown must be taken into account in assessing the «servitude» of German Jews. The negative impact of theological ideas of Jewish servitude is examined. The spread of the concept of the servus camere regie from Germany to Sicily and its application to Muslims in Southern Italy and Spain is analysed. The reaction of Jews and Muslims to this status is briefly discussed. It is shown that by the end of the Middle Ages the negative connotations of service by Jews and Muslims to the crown had triumphed over the positive ones.

ministeriales: (singular: ministerialis) were a class of people raised up from serfdom and placed in positions of power and responsibility in the High Middle Ages in the Holy Roman Empire.

Servus: is a salutation used in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe. It is a word of greeting or parting.[1]

servus regie camere

Servi camerae regis: (Latin: "servants of the royal chamber", German: Kammerknechtschaft) was the status of the Jews in Christian Europe in the Middle Ages. The ruler had the right to tax them for the benefit of his treasury (camera regis), but at the same time he had a duty to protect them when they were in danger from others. The Laws of Edward the Confessor enacted in England in the 12th century defined the status of the Jews as follows:

All Jews, wherever in the realm they are, must be under the king's liege protection and guardianship, nor can any of them put himself under the protection of any powerful person without the king's license, because the Jews themselves and all their chattels are the king's. If, therefore, anyone detain them or their money, the king may claim them, if he so desire and if he is able, as his own.


Référence bibliographique

Abulafia David. The servitude of Jews and Muslims in the medieval Mediterranean : origins and diffusion. In: Mélanges de l'École française de Rome. Moyen-Age, tome 112, n°2. 2000. pp. 687-714.



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The «servitude» of Jews in medieval France, England and Germany has long been the subject of speculation and argument. It has been said that the concept «dominates present historiography about the legal status of medieval Jews»1. Yet discussion of this issue has been very localised : there have been important contributions based on the English evidence by Jack Watt, on the French evidence by Gavin Langmuir, and a classic statement based on the German evidence by Guido Kisch. By contrast, the Mediterranean has been much more poorly served. Briefly at any rate the idea of the Jew as a servus has been mentioned in standard works on the Jews of Spain such as the general history of the Jews in Christian Spain by Yitzhak Baer, and in his earlier doctoral study of the Jews in Aragon; but the most recent authoritative study of Catalan-Aragonese Jewry, by Yom Tov Assis, merely summarises what Baer said eighty-four years earlier, with the help of what are essentially the same documents, and concludes by insisting that «the Jews' position during this period was far from that of serfs, even royal serfs»2.




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It is even harder to find any serious discussion of the idea of the Muslim as a royal servus, still less of any links that may have existed between their status and that of the Jews. One intention of this paper is to show how the concept of «servitude» , applied in the first instance to the Jews of medieval Europe, also came to be applied to the subject Muslims of Sicily and Spain, who became royal or noble «possessions», part of the «Royal Treasure» . In order to achieve this aim, it will be necessary, how ever, to trace the idea of the Jew as a servus further back, into eleventh and twelfth-century Germany, and to see how the terminology applied not merely to Jews but also to other royal servants changed between the reign of Henry IV ( 1104) and Frederick II ( 1250). This means that we shall be wandering quite far from the Mediterranean, but this is essential if we are to understand the concepts that are being used in several Mediterranean kingdoms by 1300. Finally, it will also be necessary to bear in mind the position taken by Jews and Muslims (particularly by the irreligious leaders) when addressing the unfortunate fact of being in some sense unfree. 

At the centreof the discussion must be the question whether the«servitude» attributed to Jews or Muslims is really analogous to that of serfs. The clear eststatement that it can be assimilated to serfdom appears in the free use by modern scholars of the term «serfs of the royal chamber» to translate servus regie camere; this term in any case only came into regular use, as far as can be seen, inthe reign of Frederick II, in his Jewry privilege of 1236 and in subsequent privileges conferred byhim on the Jews of Vienna. Thus Salo Baron simplyuses the phrase «Jewish serfdom»3. And Kisch uses the terms Kammerknechtschaft or «Chamber Serfdom» , understanding them to mean, by the end of the thirteenth century, «the complete "appertainment" of the Jews, with their persons and possessions, to the imperial chamber» . Here he cites the decree of Rudolfvon Habsburg of 6 December 1286 :

Cum universi et singuli Judei, utpote camerenostre servi, cum personis et rebus suis omnibusspecialiter nobis attineant vel illis principibus,quibus iidem Judeis a nobis et imperio in feodumsunt concessi...,

speaking of nos vel domini quibus attineant4. (interestingly, we also find the term des ReichesKnechte in thirteenth-century German vernacular texts




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such as the Schwabenspiegel). Kisch linked the «serfdom» of the Jews to the prohibition against bearing arms, which they shared with the servi Dei, the priests, from 1103 onwards; the result was that they depended entirely on royal or princely protection for their safety, at a time when conditions were becoming increasingly difficult (as is shown by the pogroms launched against the Jews during the People's crusades) :

It was as obvious as it was logical that the Jews, barred from the right of arms, reduced to merely subordinate services in the army, socially degraded, and legally at a disadvantage, should come to be considered outright serfs, servi, and that rule over them should be assigned to their protector, the king5.

Thus there is an easy slippage into the assumption that servi means no more or less than serfs (without, for that matter, really defining the term « serf Â» ). Kisch was an adept student of the legal sources, but he was himself puzzled by certain inconsistencies. Why, he wondered, did Jews appear in manuscript illuminations bearing arms? Or, to frame his question more generally, what was the relationship between theory and practice? We need to ask whether programmatic royal statements did in fact define for all subjects of the Empire the status of the Jews. And most surprising, in a work of legal history, is the rather casual attention Kisch paid to the exact meaning of some of the terminology employed. I will suggest that, by following a more rigorous approach to the vocabulary of Jewish (and Muslim) « serfdom Â» , we can understand more clearly in what senses it was like and unlike the serfdom of Christian peasants, and in what senses it was like other sorts of unfreedom that existed in Germany and in the Mediterranean kingdoms. 


It is not exactly true to say that the concept of Jews as servi of the royal chamber or treasury is never found before 1236. The municipal fuero of Teruel in Aragon, which can be traced back to 1176, says: Nam judei servi regis sunt et semper fisco regiodeputati6. For Baer this was part of a longer history of treating the Jews as servi regiecamerae, and it appears that the description used at Teruel either served as a model for other town statutes, or was derived from a lost common model,which could even be a non-




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Spanish model. The Teruel version itself crossed the boundaries of the Spanish kingdoms, and appears to have had a formative influence on the statutes of Cuenca (1190/ 1), and then in the thirteenth-century a good many Castilian towns followed the Cuenca model7. An important consideration is that Teruel had only been won from the Muslims in 1170, six years earlier, and that the municipal ordinances perhaps have to be seen as experimental in character; whatever the intention of the phrase that was used, it clearly became a very influential form of words. Additionally, it is important to remember the serious textual problems concerning the Teruel fueros, which leave a degree of uncertainty about the real antiquity of this phrase8. However, even if we accept that this is a twelfth-century law, it is essential to sound a special note of warning. The reference to Jews as servi regis comes at the end of quite a lengthy discussion of the legal problems that arise when a Jew and a Christian face one another in court. For example, we hear that Jews may not be summoned to appear in a Christian court on Saturdays (this was not by any means unusual legislation). The reference to the Jews as servi regis arises from a discussion of physical assault upon,




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and murder of, Jews by Christians, and indicates that in attacking a Jew a Christian is attacking royal property. The statement must thus be understood as a guarantee to the Jews that they are under the direct protection of the king of Aragon. The concepts being enunciated here are therefore not far removed from the idea of the German Jew as someone who «pertains» to the royal chamber and whose safety is guaranteed by the Crown, which defends the otherwise defenceless and generally unarmed Jew. Equally, we have to be aware that the armed Jew was a known figure in Spain, not merely in the Muslim south but also in Aragon, where Elena Lourie has found a Jew among the king's jenetes in 12909. In addition, as we shall see, the armed servus was entirely characteristic of the Muslim subjects of the kings of Naples and of the Spanish rulers at this time.

In England, the concept of the Jew as a servant of the king was expressed in a decree of 1233 that :

no Jew shall remain in our kingdom except those that can serve [servire] the king and find good pledges of fidelity; other Jews, indeed, who have nothing with which they can serve the king, shall leave the kingdom.

In 1255 Henry III insisted again :

quod nullus Judeus maneat in Anglia nisiservicium Regis faciat : et quam cito aliquis Judeus natus fuerit, sive sit masculus sive femina, serviat Nobis in aliquo.

In England, the fisc took a special interest in the money lending activities of Jews, and the appropriation of debts owed to Jews who died in credit; a passage attributed to Bracton insisted that «a Jew can have nothing of his own, because whatever he acquires he acquires not for him self but for the king» . But Henry II had already told the worthy burghers of Cambridge that they must look after the Jews sicut mea propria. In the last analysis, «the Jews and all they have are the king's» (to cite texts of around 1130 and1201). Yet, as Maitland pointed out, the Jew was only in a state of servitude so far as his ties to the king were concerned; as far as internal matters were concerned, such as the application of Jewish law to cases within the community, the Jew had the advantage of autonomy; indeed, «in relation to all men save the king, the Jew is free»10. I shall argue that this approach is also helpful when




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looking at Jewish and Muslim communities in the Christian Mediterranean. 

Although the use of the term servi regie camerae in the Empire cannot be traced back before 1236, its components do havea longer history. In the first place, the idea that Jews belonged to the royal or imperial camerawas expressed several times from 1090 onwards, though not, it must be said, with any great regularity : in 1090 at Worms it was stated that the Jews ad cameram nostram attineant, and this document was confirmed in 1157; in 1179, in the Landfriede of Frederick Barbarossa, we are told that ad fiscum imperatoris pertinent; and similar phraseology was used in Regensburg in 1182 and123311. One writer shrewdly translated camera as «treasury» , as did Baer faced with the word fisco in the Teruel document12. Moreover, Kisch was alive to the fact that the idea of «belonging» to the royal chamber or fisc was not uniquely applied to Jews; it could also apply to churches, for instance :

The term ad cameram attinere contains nothing more than a reference to an immediate legal relationship of the attinentes or pertinentes, institutions or persons, to the emperor or king, with the exclusion of all intermediary powers13.

The rest of the phrase servi regie camerae also has what may appear to be French antecedents. Louis IX's statute concerning the Jews of 1230 comes six years before the first known use of the concept of servi regie camerae; here we are told that no one may retain the Jew of another lord, but wherever the errant Jew may be found he may be lawfully seized tanquam proprium servum14.

From this perspective, we can see the significance of Langmuir's argument that in France the Jew was treated in thirteenth-century legislation not as a serf, but as someone who was analogous to a royal serf, tanquam proprium servum, with a heavy stress on the tanquam. In fact, there was no time limit on the seizure of an errant Jew, as there was (a year




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and a day) on the seizure of an errant serf15. Mind you, in England, according to the Statute of Jewry of 1275, it was stated that the Jews were the serfs of the  king – ky serfs il sunt – a passage of which Langmuir was unaware when he redefined chamber serfdom16.For Langmuir, the essence of the status of the Jews was that they were, well, Jews17. As Jews their status showed analogies to, but was never identical with, that of other elements in society, including women, children, even priests (the unarmed servi Dei). His study of Jewish «servitude» was marked by its attention to the status of serfs in French society, and by his awareness that in any case there was no fixed answer to the question who or what was a serf. But what also emerges from a study of the Jews in France is the diffuse control of the Jewish communities, not merely by the Crown, but also by feudatories throughout the kingdom, a point which reflects the political fragmentation of France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Thus Jews were possessed by several authorities, a phenomenon we shall meet again in Sicily and in Spain; moreover, there was as yet no attempt to mimic the assertion successful or otherwise) by the German kings of a single royal authority over the Jews. 

In addition, it is important to bear in mind the theological image of the Jew as someone who is condemned to perpetual servitude as a result of his refusal to accept Christ. Hostiensis stated: «Although the Jews are enemies of our faith, they are our servi and are tolerated and defended by us»18. This aspect of the problem of Jewish «servitude» has been quite extensively discussed, with varying conclusions. For Lena Dasberg, lines can be drawn linking the Decretal collection of 1234 to Frederick II's thinking on the issue of Jewish status, and in particular to the Jewry privileges of Vienna (1237); here the theological concept is cited alongside references to the Jews as servi19.Some authorities insist that the theological arguments had particular influence on Innocent III's Jewish legislation, which itself appears to have influenced Frederick II's legislation concerning Jews, most obviously in the kingdom of Sicily. As early as 1221 Frederick insisted that Sicilian Jews must wear distinctive clothing in public (as must prostitutes).



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The concept of the perpetual servitude of the Jew undoubtedly helped to lock into place the idea of the Jew as the king's servus, and needs to be addressed briefly here. Its roots lie in St Augustine's idea of conditional tolerance of the Jew : the Jew who was said to have killed Christ, who refused to believe in him, who was condemned to lose his territory and to wander the earth, who was sentenced to be subject to other nations, until the final conversion of the surviving remnant at the End of Time20: but also the Jew who was the possessor of the original text of the sacred writings which were said by Christians to contain the prophecies of the coming of Christ :

facti sunt quasi custodes Librorum nostrorum.Quomodo servi, quando eunt in auditorium dominiipsorum, portant post illos codices, et forissedent; sic factus est filius major filiominori21.

Augustine spells out the relationship between Jew and Christian starkly enough :

Attendite mysterium. Ecce Judaeus servus estChristiani22.




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As a testimonium veritatis he was to be allowed to practise his religion, for his presence in Christian society was seen as proof of the truth of Christianity, as the New Israel, and of God's abandonment of the Old Israel. In particular he was not to be killed. Alongside this highly influential view, Roman law insisted that Jews might practise their religion subject to strict limits, such as the right to use old synagogues but not, in theory at least, to build new ones; Jews could not exercise authority over Christians. Such an approach also influenced the conditional tolerance preached by Gregory the Great. The Augustinian view and the stipulations of civil law converged neatly. As Willoweit says, «dieser Augustinus-Text umschreibt die Voraussetzungen des mittelalterlichen Judenrechts»23.

It has been seen that Frederick was keen to treat the Jews of both Germany and Sicily in the same terms. In a letter to Pope Gregory IX of September 1236, Frederick II elaborated on the concept of Jewish «servitude» by stating that :

Judeos autem etsi tamen in imperio quam inregno nobis communi jure immediate subjaceant, anulla tamen ecclesia illos abstulimus, que supereis jus speciale pretenderet, quod communi jurinostro merito preferretur,

«the Jews in the Empire and in his kingdom, according to common law, are directly subject to our authority»24.As on many occasions, the emperor found it necessary to defend himself against accusations that he had been tampering with ecclesiastical property, and it cannot have escaped his attention that several Jewish communities both in the Rhineland and in southern Italy were under the control of great prelates such as the bishop of Speyer and the archbishop of Salerno. Important, however, in his letter to Gregory IX is the word immediate. The Jews were in a state of «immediacy» , directly dependent on the emperor, a situation which made sense, since the ruler guaranteed the right of the Jews to function within their own communities according to Jewish law. As self-governing communities, even if located within the towns of Empire and Regno, the Jews were guaranteed the right of judicial autonomy, but it is not surprising to find in this passage evidence of a clash with ecclesiastical views, as the Church demanded rights over that people which had been




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condemned to perpetual servitude for its supposed crimes against Christ. This concept of «immediacy» appears on other occasions, when groups sought to extract themselves from the claims of local seigneurs and to establish autonomous entities which would depend directly on imperial authority; I think here in particular of the attempt by the Swiss cantons to claim the privileges of immediacy in the late Middle Ages, or of the status of imperial cities within Germany and Lombardy25. But mentioning the Swiss appears to take us in a very different direction, towards the assertion of freedom rather than the imposition of subjection. What I want to argue here is that there is indeed a close association between the concepts of freedom and subjection within the idea of «Kammerknechtschaft» . Before we can return to the Mediterranean world it will be necessary, therefore, to look more closely at the various meanings of servitude and service in the medieval Empire. 


My first contention is that the concept of servitude in a German setting has quite different connotations to the concept as understood at, say, the court of France around 1200. In Germany, servitude was not demeaning, but could indeed be understood as honourable. Nor is this idea absent elsewhere, whether in the famous case of the servus servorum Dei or in modern times in the use of the term «civil servant» in English to denote government functionaries who may exercise enormous power. To trace the ways in which the terms «Knecht» and servus or serviens were used in the Empire we cannot do better than look at the case of the ministeriales, those knights («Knechte»), largely of unfree origin, who became the backbone of princely administration in twelfth and thirteenth-century Germany. We notice at once a steady accretion of status. The «Dienstmann» or«Dienstknecht» becomes a «Dienstherr» ,which may appear a contradiction in terms, and emerges by the end of the Middle Ages as a «Freiherr» , unencumbered by what has become the embarrassment of servitude. But was it always an embarrassment? Far from it. Let us look more closely at the vocabulary applied to the ministeriales, and at the limitations on their practical freedom. Such limitations certainly existed, particularly in the realms of marriage and inheritance. Benjamin Arnold notes that the term ministerialis did imply a status of unfreedom, «in this respect unlike the vassalage which constrained French and Anglo-Norman




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knights in the same period» . But, he insists, this «had little in common with the yoke of serfdom» . Having said this, he also admits that there were strong ties of hereditary and personal dependence tying the ministerialis to his lord, and that this constituted a proprietary right (jus proprietatis) «under which lords were owners of their ministeriales, who therefore had servile legal status»26. It was implicit in the use of the term ministerialis that some sort of service was performed, generally military, and this led to the use of other terms such as milites de familia sua to describe the group, even though the term that came into most frequent use by 1200 was indeed ministeriales, apparently because the term milites was generally applied to a small and disappearing group of free knights27. The term ministerialis could be used in a very general way to mean those who served the king in some form, including bishops, counts and judges (as far back as the reign of Louis the Pious). But it could also be used for menials in a monastery (as at Trier in973). Arnold cites a case from Passau in the early eleventh century, where the chapter owned «serfsin proprietary right» , serving «like ministeriales or bailiffs»28.

More importantly, the term ministerialis, even when applied to unfree knights, was used interchangeably in the Salian chancery with cliens, minister, miles, servitor, serviens and servus. Not all servientes were ministeriales, such as Count Siegfried who served Henry IV in the Saxon War. And Arnold admits that the term servus is especially confusing: it continued to be employed for milites such as Gislebert of Aßche, servus of Duke Godfrey de Bouillon in 1099, and reappears in use in the twelfth century29. But Arnold also seems to worry about the possibly pejorative significance of the concept of service. It is as well, therefore, to remember the words of Dietmar Willoweit in his study of Jewish «Kammerknechtschaft»: «Der Begriff servus, Knecht, hat in der Stauferzeit noch keinen eindeutig negativen Gehalt» 30. Thus in the Sachsenspiegel there are references to the ministeriales as «guten Knechte» ; in Bavariain 1104 a monastery's records speak of «worthy knights, all of them servientes» . In the thirteenth century we find the terms servi and servi militares used of the knights of the bishops of Hildesheim and Halberstadt 31.And the use in the vernacular of Dienestmann or even the




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latinised dienismanni is documented in 1114 and 1142, in the records of the royal chancery32.This is not to deny that in the twelfth century there were already attempts to distinguish between the ministeriales as men who performed military service and servi or famuli who were servants of the household; here Arnold cites the monastic chronicle of Ebersheimmünste in Alsace, but I am inclined to argue that Alsace, in close proximity to France, is just where we would expect to see an argument being propounded that the service of knights was that of warriors «comparable with free status» . We are on the edge of a realm in which the concept of servitude had a sharper edge, and Alsatians reacted accordingly33. In any case the monastic chronicler was elaborating an argument in defence of the rights of the bishop of Strasbourg, supposedly based on a privilege of the Merovingian king Dagobert II. The crucial point was that there was an awareness that ministeriales were unfree : «the lords had hereditary, proprietary rights over their actual persons, services, and possessions» , and yet «the unfreedom of ministeriales was (...) nothing like that of serfs» ; they were homines proprii, «owned persons»34. This was not a contractual but a hereditary relationship with their lord. They needed their lord's consent before they could marry or depart. But they were not subject to the lord's jurisdiction; nor as a rule were they bound to perform degrading labour services like true serfs. When lands were transferred from one lord to another, the ministeriales generally went with the land. 

If we were to follow John Freed, we would find clear evidence that ministeriales, like Jews, were servants of the royal fisc. He notes how in the mid-twelfth-century chronicle of Ebersheimmünster, mentioned already, no less a figure than Julius Caesar urges the German princes to treat the knights with consideration, for 

German knights, unlike their counter parts in other nations, are called servants of the royal fisc and princely ministerials.

But the Latin actually reads :

Inde accidit, quod preter nationes ceterasGermani milites fiscales regni et ministerialesprincipum nuncupantur35.

The chronicle actually urges the princes notto treat the knights quasi



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servis ac famulis. Anyone who relies on Freed's interpretation may well feel that the analogy with the description of the Jews of Teruelin 1176 as servi (...) fisco regio deputati is uncannily close; but, alas, it is his scholarship which is at fault. This only underlines the importance of close attention to the exact terminology employed. However, we can still recover something. The term milites fiscales regni as a description of the king's own ministeriales does recall the idea of belonging to the royal fisc or chamber, and thus points us back to the Jews. 

The story of the ministeriales could be extended to demonstrate how they acquired many of the attributes of nobility in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, while others entered government service, and grumbles at Henry IV's employment of «low-born men»(characteristic of other kingdoms at the same period) did not prevent the Hohenstaufen later on from making good use of this class of retainer. The «ministerialis of the imperial court» often proved uncertain in his loyalties, in the wars of Welfs against Hohenstaufen and between Frederick II and the papacy. Yet they were a key element in government, and some rose very high indeed, not least Markward von Anweiler, the regent of Sicily during Frederick II's turbulent childhood. But in fact all these points are intended to help us understand what «cameral servitude» meant. Was it a demeaning condition? Clearly Frederick II had no great interest in treating the Jews as the equals of ennobled ministeriales. But what we do have here is evidence that the concept of service in the royal household was understood in a rather neutral sense. It was not demeaning to serve the ruler. Rather, it was a privilege to do so. And this emerges clearly from the charter in favour of the Jews that the emperor issued in 1236 :

cum in servis suis dominus honoretur,quicunque se Judeis servis nostris favorabiles etbenevolos exhibuerint, nobis deferre non dubitent...

Such a statement raises questions about the impact of the theological doctrine of servitude, which has been seen as a decisive influence on the concept of cameral servitude36. Salo Baron was one of those who took the argument about the relationship between imperial and ecclesiastical ideas of Jewish «servitude» to an extreme, seeing in the 1236 decree an attempt to challenge papal claims to plenitude of power37. Baron insisted, too, that the aim of the emperor was not to demean the Jews but to give them the benefit of royal protection (a point which has to be related to the denial of the right




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to bear arms). To put the argument differently, those who attacked the Jews were raiding the royal treasury; but they were also offending the crown by harming those whose safety the crown had guaranteed. Later centuries, in Spain in particular, would show that hostility to the crown was frequently expressed through attacks against the Jews, while the crown sought to defend the Jews perhaps out of sympathy for their plight, but certainly for fear of the damage being done to the royal fisc. 

It is evident that there are points of comparison and of contrast between the «servitude» of Jews and of ministeriales in Germany. The ministerialis bore arms; he was an unfree knight, whose service was not in itself demeaning, because the rights of possession exercised by princes over the unfree were seen as part of the natural order of things. Unfreedom did not mean that one occupied the debased role of a serf or slave. Most people in Germany, including the new nobility that emerged from the ministerialis class, could not claim to be free. We must beware of imposing our own assumption that the highest ideal was to be free; far from it : to become the servus of a great abbey (and in particular of its patron saint) could be the high ambition of those who were quite well born. Jews, like ministeriales, were «possessed» , but it was the crown that sought to assert its rights, successfully or not, over the Jews of Germany. Yet the Jews did not normally bear arms, and it was their profitability that interested the royal fisc. We can see Frederick II's formulation of servi regie camere as the culmination of several decades of looser formulation, which had linked the Jews to the royal treasury. It is clear that «service» still retained positive connotations in the Germany of his time, even though a transformation was under way which would gradually see the ministeriales become nobles and free men. For the Jews, on the other hand, the attribute servus acquired negative qualities, which were underlined by the Augustinian insistence that the Jews had lost the right to dominion but could subsist in a debased condition in Christian society as the testimonium veritatis. It might not be an over-simplification to say that what transformed the Jewish servus of the royal chamber into a debased figure was the fact that his neutral service to the Crown was compromised by a parallel, negative concept of the Jew as someone lacking in power and punished by perpetual servitude, understood in an entirely pejorative sense. By contrast the service of the ministerialis never lost its sense of dignified, exalted service to great lords in whose power it was possible to participate through service38.




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It is now time to see how these concepts were articulated in the Mediterranean kingdoms. My starting point will not be Spain, despite theTeruel ordinance already cited, but the Norman territories in southern Italy and Sicily. Here we have clear evidence that Jewish communities were «possessed» by the Christian ecclesiastical authorities. Robert Guiscard's Amazonian wife Sichelgaita granted rights over the Jews of Palermo to the archbishop in the late eleventh century, a privilege confirmed by the young Frederick II over a century later; Frederick states that the Jews vestri sint et ecclesie panormitane et vobis et ecclesie subditi inomnibus39. Henry VI in 1195 confirmed the rights of the archbishop of Trani over his Jews, on the basis of a Norman royal privilege40. In 1291 Pope Nicholas IV confirmed to the archbishop of Capua the grant of the judaica of the city made nearly a hundred years before by Constance of Hauteville, the mother of Frederick II; this grant was inperpetuum, libere et sine alicujus exaction eservitii, though an arrangement had existed since1275 whereby the archbishop received thirty ounces of gold as compensation for the revenues of the judaica and the dyeshops of Capua; this too the pope confirmed, perhaps because the Jewish community had been driven out by the vigorous royal persecution of the Jews in southern Italy around 129041. The archbishop wanted his money if he could not have his Jews. The Crown still recognised that Jews were in the possession of the Church in the Constitutions for the Kingdom of Sicily issued by Honorius IV in 1285, on behalf of the captive heir to the throne Charles of Salerno: Honorius both denied the right of Jews to holdpublic office and insisted that Jews must not be oppressed; here reference is made to Judeis qui sunt ecclesiarum vassalli42. These remained important principles in the legislation of the Angevin kings of Naples. (The unusual use of the term vassalli for subject Jews is itself worthy of note). The idea of denying Jews the right to hold public office was based both on Roman law and on the Augustinian concept of the debased status of the Jews, and it was a




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constant source of tension in Aragon, Castile and other Spanish kingdoms43

However, the «possession» of Jewish communities in Sicily and southern Italy, as in northern Europe, did not limit the freedom of the Jews to control their internal affairs. The fiscal advantages of being able to collect the taxes on Jewish cloth dyeing and other economic activities (including even music making) were considerable. Neither Henry VI nor Frederick II can have found the way the Jews were «owned» by the king and the great landlords in the Regno radically different from what they could observe in Germany; but the revenues from Jewish industry in the Regno were certainly considerable. The granting of rights over the «giudecche» to the leading bishops was a long established practice in southern Italy, which Frederick II to some degree was able to undermine by establishing direct control of several areas of Jewish industrial activity. Raphael Straus, in his still valuable study of the Jews in the Norman and Hohenstaufen kingdom of Sicily, insisted that Frederick II was trying to extend his power over the Jews as part of a wider policy of enhancing royal authority; this would accord with the evidence that Frederick used Jewish agents to control the silk industry, for instance. Most importantly, it is apparent from the emperor's letter to Gregory IX of 1236,already cited, that Frederick had no difficulty assimilating the status of Jews in southern Italy and Sicily to that in the Empire. 

Suffice it to say that in the later history of southern Italy and Sicily the idea of the Jews as servi camere regie (or something similar) recurs frequently enough to suggest that it was understood in someway to define the relationship between individual Jews and the Crown, and between entire Jewish communities and the Crown. Peter III of Aragon in1282-3 referred to two of his Jewish physicians in his newly conquered kingdom of Sicily as servi Camere nostre44. It could indeed be argued that the definition of Jewish courtiers such as physicians as servi camere to all intents turned upside down the provision that Jews were not to hold office in Christian society. Jewish courtiers functioned not as free-standing unbelievers exercising direct authority over Christians, but as mere instruments of royal authority, and any power that they seemed to exercise was not and could not be their own, but had to be that of the king. Thus the status of servus regie camere opened the door to the royal palace. But this was not




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simply a special personal relationship. Thus in a document dated June 1392 King Martin proparte universitatis Judeorum felicis nostre urbis Panormi camere nostre servorum confirms the bull Sicut Judeis, guaranteeing the protection of the Jews, in the versions that Nicholas III and Martin IV had supposedly circulated during 1278 and 128145. More importantly, King Frederick III of Sicily, Peter III's son, introduced a series of laws which were intended to restrict the Jewish role insociety and to distance Christians from Jews (and Muslims). In 1324 he angrily denounced those of his greater subjects who tried to make themselves the defensores of Jews. Despite his antipathy to Judaism, he was not trying to deny the Jews the right to a basic level of protection; rather was he insisting that their protection, and the exercise of fiscal and other rights over the Jews, were the specific preserve of the Crown. And the core of his argument against these noble protectors of Jews was that they were interfering with the judeos quod servos nostre camere reputamus46. It is likely that Frederick III, like Frederick II, was influenced by current ecclesiastical thought on the Jews; he also sought to isolate the Jews physically by creating a new «giudecca» in Palermo, and his legislation about common eating, slaves and other issues hast he hallmark of current Church thinking on the «Jewish question» . His policy towards the Jews must, as Clifford Backman has shown, be seen as part of a wider attempt to regenerate Christian religious life on the island of Sicily after long years of interdict and excommunication during the War of the Sicilian Vespers47. In common with contemporaries, such as his rivals the kings of Naples, there was a growing insistence on the definition of the status of the non-Christian subjects of the Crown at this time. It is likely that the concept of the Jew and the Muslim as a servus regie camere underwent something of a revival at this time, since the terminology seems to be used fairly regularly around 1300. It is possible, nonetheless, that this is merely an optical illusion created by the loss of earlier documentation. 

At exactly what stage the term servus became standard usage in describing the other non-Christian element in the population of the Regno, the Saracens of Lucera, is not certain. What is clear is that the term was



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used freely at the end of the thirteenth century, both to describe individuals and to describe the entire community of Luceran Muslims. We have Charles II of Naples addressing a letter to universis hominibus Luc[erie] Sar[racenis], Ca[mere] Sue servis, a confirmation that the concept of the Saracens as servi was closely related to ideas of Jewish cameral servitude48. In letters to 'Abd al-Aziz, a leading Luceran Muslim, the king and his officers also linked the concept of the servus to the royal fisc: he is described as Adalasisius de Luc[ era], sarracenus, milex, camere n[ostre] fid[elis] et servus49. and also as miles, camere n[ostre] servus50. The fact that he was a miles, who had indeed been decorated with a military belt, as well as a servus, seems to have posed no particular problem; it was as soldiers that the Lucera Muslims were most appreciated or feared. And we have already encountered the phenomenon of unfree knights in Germany, though by the time of 'Abd al-Aziz they were a fast vanishing group. If anything, the exercise of royal authority over Saracen milites as well as Christian ones revealed the extraordinary power and influence of the Angevin dynasty in Mediterranean affairs. 

A few years ago I argued that the «servitude» of the Lucera Muslims gave rise to difficulties of a different sort. To enthusiastic readers of Roman law texts, such as the advisers of Charles II Bartolomeo da Capua and Andrea da Isernia, it was all too easy to assimilate the concept of the servus, with its multiplicity of meanings, to that of the slave as described in Roman law texts, a figure who was indeed possessed by his master. Therefore, the sale of the Lucera Muslims as slaves in 1300, after Charles II decreed the sudden suppression of the Muslim colony, was not so much a sale into slavery but a sale of slaves who were the property of the royal fisc to private masters across southern Italy and the Mediterranean. The policy may itself have been influenced by the mass sale as slaves of the entire population of Minorca in 128751. The Muslims did not have the benefit of the Augustinian theory of conditional toleration which applied to the Jews; but in any case the Jews in southern Italy also suffered direct attack from Charles II and his advisers, during a period of forced conversions in Apulia in the 1290's.




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The point that the Jews existed under a different set of guarantees to the Muslims needs elaboration. While the status of Muslims as cameral servi was, I insist, heavily modelled on the idea of the Jew as a cameral servus, and while both groups were appreciated as part of a «Royal Treasure» ,whether in southern Italy or in the Spanish kingdoms, there were also some crucial differences. The Muslim was assimilated to the status of the Jewish servus precisely because there existed no core texts to define his position in theology and in law. Self evidently, there are no references to Islam in the New Testament, but hundreds to Judaism. The only expedient was to take the example of the one non-Christian group that had always existed within western European society, the Jews, and to approximate the Muslims to their status, making appropriate adjustment for the military functions that dependent Muslims could perform so well. It is possible, too, that the Muslim idea of the dhimmi at first helped mould the policy of Christian conquerors to their Muslim subjects, as we see when the Islamic jizya was turned into a gesia in Sicily, payable this time by Muslims and Jews rather than by Christians and Jews. But the dhimmi was an integral part of Islamic society, with a tolerated status that most Islamic régimes derived from a reading of the Koran and the so-called Pact of Umar; the dhimmis were second-class citizens, but citizens, to cite Bernard Lewis : not outcasts who existed on the edge of a monolithically Christian society whose rulers, in the thirteenth century, were laying heavier and heavier stress on the Christian identity of their kingdoms and subjects. 

We have seen that the Teruel charter gives an early indication that the Jews of Aragon were regarded as servi of the Crown. The idea of belonging to the royal fisc emerges in other descriptions of the Jews, this time from Catalonia and Mallorca :they are not merely nostri proprii, but the cofres del Senyor Rey, the tresor e cosa nostra propria, the peculium et thesaurus noster52. It was a concept that protected them : because they lived mercantiliter and were a source of profit, they won the favour of rulers such as James III of Majorca in the mid-fourteenth century. Even the Jews who lived in the bishop's palace at Girona were the king's Jews53. In February 1360 we hear that judei et sarraceni servi sunt camerenostre54. Baer considered that it was under German and Sicilian influence that the term nostrae camerae servi speciales came into use as a description of the Jews in




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the lands of the Crown of Aragon55. His hypothesis was that Peter III of Aragon acquired the concept of «cameral servitude» after he gained control of Sicily in 1282, for it is under him that the term is applied (as has been briefly mentioned already) to Jewish physicians in his service: to David de Panormo Judeus medicus servus Camere nostre fidelis noster, and his brother Busach also56. The idea of the king possessing the Jews did not, however, exclude the possession ofJewish communities by lesser lords, though in theory at least this depended on royal sanction; among those lords were the counts of Empuries in Castellón, Figuer as and elsewhere, while in the thirteenth century the Templars together with a member of the Montcada dynasty had rights over the Jews of Tortosa57. Yet by 1290 the king of Aragon was able to intervene in a case launched by the count of Empuries against Jews in the county, arguing that the Jews belonged to the Crown, and that any judgement made against them could prejudice his own rights58. This must surely be seen not simply as an attempt to assert the ruler's authority over the Jews of Catalonia, but also as an attempt to place within tighter limits the power of those great regional lords who could still challenge the authority of the house of Barcelona. The Military Orders had particularly extensive rights over Jews, and it is sometimes argued that the strange appellation of the ibn Labi family of Saragossa, de la Cavalleria, reflects this dependence in the thirteenth century. Assis suggests that there may be some reflection of the idea of royal proprietorship of the Jews in the Hebrew sources, in Solomon ben Adret's view that «the king has the power to confiscate property» 59.

What is important here is that subjectMuslims shared the appellation of «Royal Treasure» . In the Fueros of Aragon it is stated that :

Nonetheless, the persons of Muslims – male and female – in regard to any of the things so far mentioned, may not be held by any lord or any person except with the consent of the king or his bailiffs, because it is certain that all Muslims, wherever they reside, belong to the king, except for slaves and those whom the lord may bring to dwell on his lands from areas which are not




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under the jurisdiction of the crown, inwhich case such Muslims and their descendantsshould by law belong to the lord and his family60.

Muslims are described as thesauri regii speciales; son nuestro tresor e estan a nuestro voler; son nostres propris. The language is very familiar from the terminology used already to describe Jews. If the king sold a property to which Saracens were tied, the Saracens went with that property61. Inheritance problems arose if a Muslim bequeathed his goods to a non-royal Muslim; there was constant tension between the crown and the nobility over the rights the nobles, and the Church, claimed over Muslims resident in their lands. In essence, the nobles sought the same sort of powers over their mudéjares as the Crown claimed to exercise throughout its realms. A Valencian monastery argued that the property of intestate Muslims devolved upon «the lord of the place» , according to the general custom of Valencia; elsewhere, issues concerning the right to sell property freely much exercised the mudéjar communities of Aragon62. Confusion grew when some Muslims were placed under the authority not of the king’s but of the queen’s household after 135963. Interesting is the restriction on the right to bear arms, which cannot have been at all effective in a community which provided the crown with regular military service, but which was at least a source of income through fines (rather like dress regulations, which were honoured in the breach, or rather in the payment of fines). The crown could summon Muslims for military service even when they were subject to the jurisdiction of a lesser lord, on the principle that all Muslims, ultimately, were the king’s64. It has been seen that this was something that generally distinguished Jews from Muslims; there is far less evidence for Jews performing military service in Aragon-Catalonia, beyond simple guard duty. 

Muslims were sometimes cited alongside Jews in royal decrees concerning jurisdiction over non-Christians65. In his Observantiae consuetudinesque scriptae regni Aragonum of about 1430 the jurist Martinus Didaci d’Aux spoke of Jews and Saracens together when he




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insisted that eorum persone domini regis sunt. The effect of this was that they could not normally give their own persons to another individual, for example by offering themselves as guarantees for debts66. However, it is plain that nearly two hundred years earlier Muslim debt slavery was widely practised, at least in Mallorca (which at that time was subject to a rather «laissez-faire» régime) 67. Again and again Jews and Saracens are treated together in Aragonese legislation. Thus :

Nullus judeus aut sarracenus hereditatempotest vendere christiano, nisi bajulo regisassensum prestante et instrumentum etiamconfirmante. Si vero judei aut sarracenivenditiones inter se fecerint, bajulus dominiregis non debet se intromittere, cum ejusdemconditionis maneant apud regem. Tamen bajulusregis debet recipere pretii tertiam partem, cumfit venditio christiano68.

The fundamental principle was, therefore, that ultimately all they had was the king's property. The bracketing of Jews and Saracens together in legislation also recalls Frederick II's Constitutions of Melfi, where he had linked them on a couple of important occasions. 

How then is it possible for the Aragonese king to give a merchant permission to transport overseas forty migrant Muslims, who are franchos et liberos aqualibet servitute (1360)? Clearly there were emigration taxes which had to be paid, and the idea of them being franchi could refer to the fact that they had fulfilled this requirement. But in fact the idea of the «free Muslim» was a well established one, which at first seems to sit uneasily with the concept of the Muslim as the king's possession. Clay Stalls, in a study of the Ebro Valley after the Aragonese conquest of 1118, has examined the exarici, the Muslim peasant population, and has shown how they retained a considerable number of freedoms, while at the sametime their status was compromised by their religion69. Elena Lourie has insisted, in my view a little too hard, that there were considerable numbers of free Muslims among the mudéjares of Mallorca in the thirteenth century, alongside Muslim serfs, present in some numbers in the country side and alongside numerous Muslim slaves in town and country. That there were



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some free Muslims is not in doubt, however70. This «freedom» was in some respects an anomalous situation; they were not part of analjama or community structure, unlike the Muslims elsewhere in the lands of the Crown of Aragon. Their freedom, like all medieval freedoms, was circumscribed, so that they paid a tax for staying put on the island (estimated at the equivalent of a quarter of a domestic servant's annual wage); and they paid a tax if they sought to leave the island, as many did, for good71. Moreover, in the thirteenth century there were several communities of Muslims living under Christian rule who had been guaranteed such extensive rights by the Crown that it is unlikely that any serious attempt was yet made to treat them as royal servi: one thinks of Menorca, Chivert and the Vall d’Uxó. It would take time for these communities, with their extensive privileges, to be either dismantled (as happened in Menorca in 1287), or stripped of their special rights.

The crucial point, however, is that Muslims in the Crown of Aragon, like Jews, could combine a state of relative freedom in their legal affairs, in their practice of religion, in their relations with one another, while existing in a state of «cameral servitude» . This is not to deny great variations in practice. Dress regulations, for example, could be decreed with the right hand and dismissed (for a fee) with the left hand. One way of defining this relationship would be to say that the Muslims were free in the paradoxical sense that the king did not wish them to become the property of anyone else. (This excludes the sizeable category of Muslim slaves, of course, who need separate treatment). All this takes us back to the fifteenth-century formulation of Martinus Didaci d'Aux, when he insists that debt slavery or similar forms of subjection cannot be imposed on Jews and Saracens, because they are the king's possessions. It also reminds us, however, that there were very many Saracens, and some Jews, in Spain who did depend on other lords than the king, and that the king's assertion of overall authority was at times quite hollow. Theory and practice did not, of course, exactly coincide. Nor was the concept of «cameral servitude» precisely formulated. If it was a foreign import (despite the Teruel precedent), then it is not surprising that it was used as an elegant formula, without its full significance being explained. In general, it was sufficient to say of a man that he was a judeus or sarracenus, and these terms conveyed the necessary sense of subjection to royal authority. The labels were not just included as warnings of someone's religious status, but they had an over-riding legal




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significance as well. Thus it was much more common to refer to Jews simply as Judei thanto add the lengthy peroration that they were servi camere nostre.

We remain with the problem how Jews and Muslims squared «servitude» , despite all its qualifications, with their attachment to their own freedom. In the case of the Muslims, the issue was complicated by the opportunity that arose to emigrate from «the lands of unbelief» to Islamic territory in Granada and north Africa. A steady stream of migrants can be traced coming out of Mallorca, Valencia and elsewhere in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Such authorities as ibn Rushd in the twelfth century and al-Wansharishi at the end of the fifteenth made it plain that this was a religious obligation: in al-Wansharishi's words, «they have no justification for staying under the jurisdiction of unbelievers» 72. Islam involved subjection that was the meaning of the term), not to any man but to Allah. Even the most powerful rulers might take pride in the name 'Abd ar-Rahman, «slave of the Merciful One» . Islam was both a political and a religious order, to use modern west ernter minology. In a sense, it was impossible to be a true Muslim while one lived under Christian rule, even though the Christian conquerors eased this by inserting into the surrender treaties of the thirteenth century (particularly into the Arabic texts) such mild terms that they could be read as alliances almost as much as capitulations73. But even alliances with the infidel posed religious problems. The result was that a rump of largely lower class Muslims was left behind, while their leaders emigrated; few élite families existed after 1300; and the mudéjar communities never acquired the influence at court which might have enabled them to withstand the often fiercepressure of the Crown upon them, and which the Jewish élite families did acquire in all the Iberian Christian kingdoms.

For the Jews too the concept of «servitude» was not easy to accept. It was possible to issue a straight denial that Jews were anything other than




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«free men» , as Crescas Elias did in the middle of the fourteenth century; he reproved the Jewish leadership in Girona, who were preventing Jews who had not paid their taxes from leaving the town74. Rabbi Shemtob said that the king and his advisers had agreed «that all the Jews, in all their places of residence, are free to go where they choose, while no one may protest or coerce them»75. The celebration of freedom has always been integral to Judaism, with its emphasis, particularly in the Passover Haggadah, on the liberation of the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. Here it is perhaps appropriate to quote the Judaeo-Spanish version of the Haggadah, the words the Jews of Castile might themselves have used over five centuries ago :

Siervos fuimos a Parho en Egipto, y saconos Adonai nuestro Dios de alli con poder fuerte y conbrazo tendido;

and if the Almighty had not helped us we would still be sujetos to Pharoah in Egypt. Associated with this is the hope of finding freedom in the land of Israel, expressed in a way that does this time acknowledge the heavy «yoke of the nations» on the Jews :

Este año aqui, siervos; a el año el vienien, en tierra de Yisrael, hijos foros.

In the Sephardic version of the Grace recited after meals the prayer that God will remove the yoke of the nations is followed by prayer for restoration of the Jews in the land of Israel. There is no denying, then, that the Jews of Spain acknowledged the humiliation of subjection. But the reality was that the Jews shrugged off this temporal «servitude» , in expectation of imminent liberation; more importantly, they set against the idea of subjection to man the idea of subjection to God. Moses was the 'ebed Adonai, the servant (the same word is used for slave; cf. Arabic 'abd Allah) of God (Deut. 34: 5); the Children of Israel were God's servants :

For they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt – they shall not be sold as slaves are sold! (Lev. 25 : 42),

while the Spanish voice of Judah ha-Levi makes the link between true freedom and service to God absolutely plain :

The slaves of time are the slaves of slave; only the slave of the Lord is free. Therefore, while other men seek their portion, «The Lord is my portion» , says my soul76.




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As the famous Disputation of Barcelona of1263 shows, the Jews had ready answers to those who insisted that divine favour had departed from them, and that the loss of dominion in the Holy Land was proof of their rejection by God (an argument that takes us back to St Augustine, among others). «Servitude» and other humiliations were part of human law, but divine law transcended all that, and made the Jew truly free. 

We can thus conclude that the «servitude» of Jews and Muslims was sui generis, analogous in some ways, in Germany, to the servitude of ministeriales, but gradually acquiring more and more pejorative overtones. Royal «possession» of these communities was seen as beneficial to the fisc, and royal protection was protection of the king's treasure, whether or not it was also informed by conditional tolerance to the existence and practice of other faiths, most notably in Spain. The result was that the Crown insisted on the «servitude» of Jews and Muslims in those areas that were of direct concern to it : the extraction of taxes from the subject communities; rights over ownership of land, inheritance and debts; military service, in the case of the Muslims. At one extreme, it could even choose to sell every Muslim of Lucera as Crown property, in a massive and savage act of privatisation. At the other extreme, it could leave the communities considerable autonomy in their internal affairs, in the knowledge that the more the communities prospered, the more benefit accrued to the Crown from their economic activities. Assis argues, in fact, that the proprietorship of the Jews by the Aragonese kings «contributed to the relative stability enjoyed by the Jews of the realm till1391» 77.

If we want to find a visual image of Jewish «servitude» as it was understood at the end of the fifteenth century, we can find it in an altarpiece produced for the Convent of St Vincent in Lisbon, in the rising Iberian power of Portugal. A famous tableau attributed to Nuno Gonçalves portrays the king and court (one figure close to the king being traditionally identified as Prince Henry the Navigator) 78. At the extreme right of the series of panels stands a black clad rabbi, the Arabi Mor or Chief Rabbi (or better, perhaps, judge) of the Jewish community of Portugal79. Heis holding a codex written in what are intended tolook like Hebrew letters, though in fact they conceal a barely legible message in distorted Latin




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letters concerning the interment of Christian bones in 145580. He is surrounded by other figures, including a dark skinned warrior,perhaps a Moor. We could say that the rabbi and his companions are on the left-hand margins of the picture, a position that accurately enough represents their marginal position in society. They do not share the same space as the ecclesiastical figures who cluster around the king in the place of honour to the right. And the factthat the rabbi is holding an open book is surelyan attempt to represent the concept of testimoniumveritatis : here is the Jew who carried with himthe testimony of the Old Testament, and whoseplace in society is dependent on the Augustinianformula. Moreover, the book appears at first sight(the literal reading) to say something in Hebrew,but its real message (the metaphorical reading) isa Christian one; in the same way the Jew believeshe sees the meaning of the Hebrew Bible, andfails, according to Christian exegesis, tounderstand the significance of the prophecies of the coming of Christ. The Christian setting ofthis painting, in a convent, can be taken toconfirm this interpretation. Though sometimeshailed as an exciting visual representation ofconvivencia, in which the Jewish religious leadershares the company of the king with the leaders of the Church, the painting is in fact nothing of thesort; indeed, it would be extraordinary if analtarpiece proclaimed such values. It portrays thefull range of society, rich and poor, Christianand non-Christian, and triumphantly expresses thefact of the king's dominion even over those whostand outside the Corpus Christi. Such a messagewas appropriate to a kingdom which was fastestablishing its dominance over the slave trafficfrom Africa; but to study the impact of medievalideas of Jewish and Muslim «servitude» on theway in which subject peoples in the Spanish andPortuguese Empires were treated is not possible inthis space. This was a «servitude» that wasseriously intended to demonstrate the superiorityof Christendom over the rival faiths; but it wasalso unlike that of other servi, even if thestarting point had perhaps been that ratherneutral concept of servitude which was sowidespread in twelfth-century Germany. A route canbe sketched from Germany to southern Italy, wherethe concept of «cameral servitude» fitted quiteneatly the established order of things. We couldsay more readily that it reached Spain, or atleast Aragon, from Sicily were it not for theprecocious case of Teruel, which may betray theinfluence of other sources, but which certainlyinfluenced later legislation on the Jews. But whatis plain is that a concept that had



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developed specifically in relation to theJews was extended, with considerable ease, tocover subject Muslims as well, both in the Regnoand in the Spanish kingdoms. It had its positiveand negative connotations, and the balance betweenpositive and negative shifted (in favour of thelatter) as time went by. In both cases, theconcept of «cameral servitude» answered theneeds of the Crown, and provided a neat solutionto the problem where to place Jews in a societywhose identity was primarily defined as Christian.David ABULAFIA





1 G. Langmuir, «Tanquam Servi Â» : the change in Jewish status in French law about 1200, in G. Langmuir (ed.), Toward a definition of Anti-Semitism, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1990, p. 167 ; the study originally appeared in M. Yardeni (ed.), Les Juifs dans l'histoire de la France, Leiden, 1980, p. 25-54. A thoughtful comparative survey is : A. Patschovsky, The relationship between the Jews of Germany and the King, in A. Haverkamp and H. Vollrath (dir.), England and Germany in the High Middle Ages, Oxford 1996, p. 193-218.

2 Y. T. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry. Community and society in the Crown of Aragon, 1213-1327, London, 1997, p. 9-10 ; cf. F. (later known as Y.) Baer, Studien zur Geschichte der Juden im Königreich Aragonien während des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1913, p. 14.

3 S. W. Baron, A social and religioushistory of the Jews. IV. Meeting of East and West, 2nd ed., New York and Philadelphia, 1957,p. 70-71.

4 G. Kisch, The Jews in medieval Germany.A study of their social and legal status, Chicago, 1949 ; new ed., New York, 1970,p. 129-130.

5 Op. cit., p. 130.

6 Y. Baer, A history of the Jews inChristian Spain, I, Philadelphia, 1961, p. 85,395 ; Id., Die Juden im christlichen Spanien.Urkunden und Regesten. I. Aragonien und Navarra,Berlin, 1929, n. 1043 and II. Kastilien/Inquisitionsakten, Berlin, 1936, p. 592.

7 Y. Baer, Urkunden, I, n. 1037-1038. The literature on the Teruel fuerosis simply vast, but it can best be approached by way of : A. M. Barrero Garcia, El fuero de Teruel. Su historia, proceso de formación y reconstrucción crítica de sus fuentes, Madrid, 1979. Cf. also my paper Los Judíos en los fueros de Teruel, in XVII Congrès d’Història de la Corona d’Aragó, Barcelona-Lleida, September 2000.

8 In any case, the phrase was in circulation a century or so after the capture of Teruel : see M. Gorosch, El fuero de Teruel, Stockholm, 1950 (Leges Hispanici Medii Ævi), p. 320, where the vernacular text (going back to the late thirteenth century) reads : Qual los jodíos siervos son del sennor Rey et sienpre a la real bolsa son contados. But for the concept of servi of the royal fisc in early medieval Spain, compare the use in Visigothic Spain of the term servi fiscales, applied to a group of royal servants who administered crown estates, were in some cases quite wealthy, were liable to military service, possessed their own slaves and could even be clerics (there is no evidence the term servi fiscales was applied to Jews) : P. D. King, Law and society in the Visigothic Kingdom, Cambridge, 1972 (Cambridge studies in medieval life and thoughts, 3rd s., 5), p. 52, 64, 68, 72, 75, 162-163, 173 ; also Gregory of Tours VI, 44, in P. L., LXXI, col. 410-411, with a revealing editorial annotation from T. Ruinart (1669) : «quos alii familiam dominicam, alii ministeriales regios appellabant » ; and Third Council of Toledo, in Concilios visigoticos e hispanoromanos, ed. J. Vives et al., Madrid, 1963, p. 129, 135. It does not appear that any of these servi fiscales were Jewish ; nor would the Visigothic kings have tolerated practising Jews at court in the seventh century. There is no reference to servi fiscales in either S. Katz, The Jews in the Visigothic and Frankish kingdoms of Spain and Gaul, Cambridge (Mass.), 1937, or N. Roth, Jews, Visigoths and Muslims in medieval Spain. Co-operation and conflict, Leiden, 1994. However, it seems likely that the Teruel formulation is to some extent influenced by the Visigothic concept of servi fiscales, perhaps mediated through Mozarabic versions of the Visigothic law codes.

9 E. Lourie, A Jewish mercenary in the service of the king of Aragon, in Revue des études juives, 137, 1978, p. 367-373, repr. in Id., Crusade and colonisation, Aldershot, 1990, essay VIII.

10 F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, History of English law, I, Cambridge, 1911, p. 468 ; cf.J. Watt, The Jews, the law, and the Church : the concept of Jewish serfdom in thirteenth-century England, in TheChurch and sovereignty, Oxford, 1991 (Studies inchurch history, Subsidia, 9), p. 158.

11 Germania Judaica, ed. M. Brann, I. Elbogen, A. Freimann, H. Tykocinski, 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1963, I, p. xxiii ; G. Kisch, The Jews in medieval Germany..., p. 134, 413.

12 J. Parkes, The Jew in the medievalcommunity. A study of his political and economicsituation, London, 1938, p. 162 ; cf. G. Kisch,The Jews in medieval Germany..., p. 423.

13 Op. cit., p. 134.

14 G. Langmuir, «Tanquam Servi» ...cit. n. 1, p. 167.

15 Jordan, op. cit., p. 133.

16 J. Watt, The Jews, the law, and theChurch..., p. 159-60.

17 G. Langmuir, «Tanquam Servi» ..., p.167-94.

18 Cited in Anna Abulafia, Christians andJews in dispute, Aldershot, 1998, essay I, p.182.

19 L. Dasberg, Untersuchungen über die Entwertung des Judensstatus im 11. Jahrhundert, The Hague, 1965, p. 53-54, based on G. Kisch, The Jews in medieval Germany..., p. 151.

20 Augustine of Hippo, De Civitate Dei,xviii. 46, ed. B. Dombart and A. Kalb, Turnhout,1955 (Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina, 48),p. 644.

21 Augustine of Hippo, Sermones de Vetere Testamento, ed. C. Lambot, Turnhout, 1961 (Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina, 41), Sermo V, v, p. 55 l. 177 ; cf. Anna Sapir Abulafia, Christians and Jews in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance, London, 1995, p. 65-66 ; B. Blumenkranz, Die Judenpredigt Augustins. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der jüdisch-christlichen Beziehungen den ersten Jahrhunderten, Bâle, 1946 (2nd ed. Paris, 1973), p. 178 ; Id., Augustin et les juifs, Augustin et le judaïsme, in Recherches augustiniennes, 1, 1958, p. 225-241. Yet there were also medieval voices, such as Paulus Alvarus (Albar) of ninth-century Córdoba, arguing that the Jews had corrupted the original texts ; in Alvarus’ case I believe that this must indicate influence from another religion he detested, Islam : B. Blumenkranz, Les auteurs chrétiens du Moyen Âge sur les juifs et le judaïsme, Paris and The Hague, 1963. This idea does not seem to have been pursued later, and before about 1300 accusations that Jews corrupted the text mainly concerned disputes about its correct vocalisation (thereby reflecting the activity of the Masoretes and the establishment of an agreed text, which in effect had to wait until the scholarly research of Meir Abulafia in thirteenth-century Toledo : B. Septimus, Hispano-Jewish culture in Transition. The career and controversies of Ramah, Cambridge (Mass.), 1982). However, the idea that the text has been seriously corrupted rears its head with Nicholas of Lyra at the start of the fourteenth century : J. Cohen, The Friars and the Jews. The evolution of medieval anti-Judaism, Ithaca (N. Y.), 1982, p. 124, 148-152, 159-163, 175-84, 189, 193-194, 228, and especially p. 183-184 for Nicholas of Lyra. Clearly this marks a significant departure from the idea that Jews had preserved the text faithfully, or at most had tampered with the unwritten vowel sounds.

22 Augustine of Hippo, Sermones de Vetere Testamento..., Sermo V, v, p. 56 l. 195-198.

23 D. Willoweit, Vom Königsschutz zur Kammerknechtschaft. Anmerkungen zum Rechtsstatus der Juden im Hochmittelalter, in K. Müller and K. Wittstadt (ed.), Geschichte und Kultur des Judentums. Eine Vorlesungsreihe an der Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, 1988, p. 72.

24 J. Aronius, Regesten zur Geschichte derJuden im fränkischen und deutschen Reiche biszum Jahre 1273, Berlin, 1902, no 498 ; G. Kisch,The Jews in medieval Germany..., p. 144.

25 P. Freedman, Images of the medieval peasant, Stanford (Ca.), 1999, p. 190-199 for the building of the Swiss myth.

26 B. Arnold, German knighthood 1050-1300,Oxford, 1985, p. 25.

27 Op. cit., p. 26.

28 Op. cit., p. 32.

29 Op. cit., p. 33.

30 D. Willoweit, Vom Königsschutz zur Kammerknechtschaft..., p. 84.

31 B. Arnold, German Knighthood..., p. 36.

32 Op. cit., p. 37.

33 Op. cit., p. 47 ; M. G. H., Scriptores, XXIII, Hannover, 1874, p. 432-434.

34 B. Arnold, German knighthood..., p.54-55, 58, 66.

35 J. B. Freed, Noble bondmen. Ministerial marriages in the archdiocese of Salzburg,1100-1343, Ithaca (N. Y.), 1995, p. 30 ; M. G.H., Scriptores, XXIII, p. 432-433 ; cf. B. Arnold, German knighthood..., p. 47.

36 For the literature, see G. Langmuir, «TanquamServi» ... cit. n. 1, p. 170.

37 S. W. Baron, Ancient and medieval Jewish history, New Brunswick, 1972, p. 302.

38 Patschovsky, op. cit., 208-9.

39 B. and G. Lagumina, Codice diplomaticodei Giudei di Sicilia, Palermo, 1884 (Documenti per servire alla storia di Sicilia, serie I, 6),no xii, p. 9-10 ; no xvi, p. 12-14.

40 R. Straus, Gli ebrei di Sicilia dai Normanni a Federico II, trad. S. Siragusa, Palermo, 1992, p. 97.

41 S. Grayzel, The Church and the Jews in the thirteenth century. II (1254-1314), ed. K. Stow, New York-Detroit, 1989, p.187-189.

42 Op. cit, p. 155-157.

43 D. Romano, Judíos al servicio de Pedro el Grande de Aragón, 1276-1285, Barcelona, 1983

44 B. and G. Lagumina, Codice diplomatico dei Giudei di Sicilia..., no xxx, p. 26-28 ; noxxxiii, p. 30.

45 Op. cit., nos lxxxi and lxxxii, p. 117,119 ; S. Grayzel, The Church and the Jews..., p. 139-142, 147-150.

46 B. and G. Lagumina, Codice diplomaticodei Giudei di Sicilia..., no xxxix, p. 39-40.

47 See on this C. Backman, Decline and fall of medieval Sicily. Politics, religion and economy in the reign of Frederick III,1296-1337, Cambridge, 1995.

48 P. Egidi, Codice diplomatico dei Saraceni di Lucera, Naples, 1915, no 195.

49 Op. cit., no 214.

50 Op. cit., no 216.

51 David Abulafia, Monarchs and minoritiesin the western Mediterranean : Lucera and itsanalogues, in S. Waugh and P. Diehl (ed.),Christendom and its discontents. Exclusion,persecution and rebellion, 1000-1500, Cambridge,1996, p. 234-263, repr. in Id., Mediterranean encounters, economic, religious, political,1100-1550, Aldershot, 2000, essay XIII.

52 Y. Baer, Studien zur Geschichte der Juden im Königreich Aragonien... cit. n. 2, p. 13 ; Y. T. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry... cit. n. 2, p. 9.

53 Op. cit., p. 11, n. 15.

54 J. Boswell, The royal treasure. Muslim communities under the Crown of Aragon in the fourteenth century, New Haven, 1977, p. 30.

55 For this term, se aslo Y. T. Assis, TheGolden Age of Aragonese Jewry... cit. n. 2, p.9, n. 2.

56 B. and G. Lagumina, Codice diplomatico dei Giudei di Sicilia..., no XXX, p. 26-28 ; n XXXIII, p. 30 ; also Y. Baer, Studien zur Geschichte der Juden im Königreich Aragonien... cit. n. 2, p. 13, n. 8.

57 Op. cit., p. 47-48.

58 Y. T. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry..., p. 11.

59 Op. cit., p. 10, n. 7, from Solomon benAdret, She'elot u-Teshuvot (Warsaw, 1883),viii. 22.

60 Fueros of Aragon, vii. 27, cited by J. Boswell, The royal treasure... cit. n. 53, p. 30 ; cf. another text of the Aragonese fueros in A. Gargallo Moya, Los fueros de Aragón [ segun el MS del Archivo municipal de Miravete de la Sierra (Teruel)], Zaragoza, 1992 (Textos medievales, 89), p. 155-159.

61 J. Boswell, The royal treasure..., p.33.

62 Op. cit., p. 283 ; overall, p. 273-286.

63 Op. cit., p. 34.

64 Op. cit., p. 271-273.

65 Y. Baer, Studien zur Geschichte der Juden im Königreich Aragonien... cit. n. 2, p. 50.

66 Op. cit., p. 14, n. 12.

67 E. Lourie, Free Moslems in theBalearics under Christian rule in the thirteenthcentury, in Speculum, 45, 1970, p. 624-649 ;repr. in Id., Crusade and colonisation, Aldershot, 1990, essay VI.

68 Y. Baer, Studien zur Geschichte der Juden im Königreich Aragonien..., p. 15, n. 13 ; Amador de los Rios, Historia social, política y religiosa de los Judíos de España, I, Madrid, 1875, p. 409 ; Y. T. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry..., p. 10, n. 7.

69 C. Stalls, Possessing the land. Aragon's expansion in Islam's Ebro frontier under Alfonso the Battler, 1104-1134, Leiden,1995.

70 E. Lourie, Free Moslems... cit. n. 66 ; cf. David Abulafia, A Mediterranean emporium. The Catalan kingdom of Majorca, Cambridge, 1994, p. 58-64.

71 Op. cit., p. 61-62.

72  V. Lagardère, Histoire et société en Occident musulman au Moyen Âge. Analyse du Mi’yar d’al-Wans ˇ arisi, Madrid, 1995 ; L. P. Harvey, Islamic Spain, 1250 to 1500,

Chicago, 1990, p. 55-63 ; B. Lewis, Legal and historical reflections on the position of Muslim populations under non-Muslim rule, in Id., Islam and the West, New York and Oxford, 1963, p. 43-57. The quotation from al-Wansharishi is from L. P. Harvey, Islamic Spain..., p. 57.

73 R. I. Burns, P. Chevedden, M. de Epalza, Negotiating cultures. Bilingual surrender treaties in Muslim-Christian Spain, Leiden, 1999.

74 Y. Baer, Urkunden..., cit. n. 6, I, no315, § 2 ;  Y. T. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry..., p. 9, n. 4.

75 Op. cit., p. 10, n. 5.

76 T. Carmi, The Penguin book of Hebrew verse, London, 1981, p. 347.

77 Y. T. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry..., p. 9.

78 R. dos Santos et al., Nuno Gonçalves. The great Portuguese painter of the fifteenth century and his altarpiece for the convent of St. Vincent, London, 1955

79 See A. F. Francis, Voyage of re-discovery. The veneration of Saint Vincent,

Hicksville (N. Y.), 1979, for a care fully argued attempt to identify the characters in the painting

80 A possible reading of the text is in A.F. Francis, Voyage of re-discovery..., p. 135.

Key Words

ministeriales: (singular: ministerialis) were a class of people raised up from serfdom and placed in positions of power and responsibility in the High Middle Ages in the Holy Roman Empire.

mercantiliter: Mercantilism, also called "commercialism,” is a system in which a country attempts to amass wealth through trade with other countries, exporting more than it imports and increasing stores of gold and precious metals. It is often considered an outdated system.

Serfdom: was the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism, and similar systems. It was a condition of debt bondage and indentured servitude with similarities to slavery, which developed during the Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century.[1]

servi and servi militares: used of the knights of the bishops of Hildesheim and Halberstadt 

Servus: is a salutation used in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe. It is a word of greeting or parting.[1]

testimonium veritatistrue testimony


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