The Fuero of Calatayud: Translation and Overview
A Medieval Spanish Town Charter
This morning, I passed my PhD viva with minor corrections! To mark this very monstrous occasion, I present to you my translation and overview of the fuero (charter) of Calatayud, a town in what is now northeastern Spain.
A fuero, in brief, was a charter outlining statutes for a specific locality: in effect, a local form of governance that became established in medieval Iberia. The fuero that is the subject of this post and is translated here is the one that was given for the locality of Calatayud (located in the Aragón region of northeast Spain) by King Alfonso I of Aragón and Navarre, who died in 1134 and was nicknamed “The Battler.” I have not chosen this fuero at random: rather, I decided to read it as I myself have visited Calatayud, as it is one of the notable towns in relative proximity to my village in Spain.
The most likely etymology for Calatayud is that it is a transcription of the Arabic قلعة أيوب (Qal‘at Ayyub), which translates as “Ayyub’s fortress.” According to Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada in Chapter 9 of his Historia Arabum, it is said that Qal‘at Ayyub was built by Ayyub bin Habib al-Lakhmi, who briefly served as governor of al-Andalus and was involved in the deposition and assassination of his predecessor Abd al-Aziz bin Musa (the son of the Muslim general Musa bin Nusayr, a key figure in the Muslim conquest of Spain). This assassination, according to Rodrigo, took place because of suspicion that Abd al-Aziz had converted to Christianity, since his wife Egilo (who is called Umm ‘Asim in Arabic sources and was supposedly the widow of Roderic, the last Visigothic king of Spain) had persuaded him to wear a crown as the Visigothic kings did.
Regardless of whether Ayyub did in fact establish Calatayud, there is a very magnificent fortress that surveys the whole town, and I would recommend that you visit Calatayud and its fortress, especially since it is not such a familiar site for foreign tourists. Besides the fortress, there is also the remnant of the city’s old Jewish quarter that is well worth seeing.
Calatayud was captured by Alfonso the Battler in 1120, who, far from expelling the Muslim population, actually made arrangements to maintain its presence, as the statues of this fuero illustrate (where they are identified just as Moors). The statutes also attest to the existence of a Jewish community, and thus Calatayud can be seen as a microcosm of the phenomenon of convivencia (“living together”) between Jews, Christians and Muslims: not in the context of a Muslim-ruled polity with the Jews and Christians as dhimmis, but in the context of a Christian-ruled polity. While convivencia is often just associated with Muslim-ruled Spain in popular imagination, the term has equal application to Christian-ruled Spain. Convivencia should not of course lead to romanticisation, but rather just be used to appreciate the nuances of inter-communal relations. In the particular case, it is arguable that the arrangements for Muslims here were preferable to those for the Christians under dhimmi status, with some of the stipulations establishing legal and social equality for all the communities in matters of trade, oaths, testimony and judicial proofs. There is no reference in the fuero to Muslims paying a poll tax analogous to the jizya tax paid by Christian dhimmis.
Beyond this point of illustrating inter-communal relations in Calatayud, the fuero also points to the autonomous nature of the community in terms of judicial matters. The local council chooses the judge it wants, and judicial cases can be taken to the council for resolution. Moreover, Calatayud is granted many privileges with regards to (i) exemptions from different taxes and tributes and (ii) immunities.
Below is my translation of the fuero, based on the edition of the text provided by Jesus Ignacio Algora Hernando in his critical edition and study, which I found very useful both for some of the general observations here and the comments. The style of the Latin differs significantly from the classical and more refined medieval norms, showing considerable influence from the Romance vernacular. For example, with regards to singular nouns, the ablative case is frequently used for both the nominative and accusative cases, while in the plural, the accusative plural stands for both nominative and accusative plurals. There is also confusion with regards to the use of relative pronouns. I must admit that some of the phrases pose considerable difficulty in interpretation, and so if others would like to comment and offer suggestions, I would be most grateful.
In the name of God, and by His Grace- namely, that of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Amen.
By the grace of God, I- King Alfonso- compose this letter of grant and confirmation to all you inhabitants of Calatayud, who have populated the place, and previously came to populate it both for love of God and so that it may be well populated, and also to all the peoples who may come there to populate it with good will. May you be brought together there in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Mother of God the Virgin Mary and all the saints, in honour of the salvation of the Christians, and in confoundment and cursing of the pagans (may the Lord God destroy them). Amen.
I grant and concede to you that you shall have such fueros as you have demanded from me.
1. Firstly, you may have a medianero[i] with all my lands at your gate of Calatayud.
2. No man of Calatayud is to be taken captive outside of Calatayud for any reason, he is not to be responsible before any man outside his council. The one who forcibly apprehends him outside Calatayud is to pay 1000 morabetinos[ii]: a third of that to the king, a third to the council, and a third to the plaintiff. May the Señor[iii] and the council[iv] help him.
3. All the inhabitants who come to populate Calatayud are to be free of all the debts they have incurred. All the fines and losses that have come upon them from the king and all other men are to be absolved and done away with, and wherever they have had and have inheritances, they are to possess them such that these inheritances remain completely safe and unimpeded, with the freedom and choice to sell, give and loan to whomsoever they wish.
4. If it turns out that they find a man dead in their territory, the matter is not to be considered homicide.
5. If a man who is not from Calatayud kills, apprehends, or forcibly dismounts a man from Calatayud, he is to pay a fine of 1000 morabetinos: a third of that to the king, a third to the council, and a third to the plaintiff.
6. If a man from Calatayud kills his neighbour, and the dead person’s relatives can prove this, then the one who committed the act is to pay a fine of 300 solidi: 100 to the king and 200 to the dead man’s relatives. The one who commits the act is to be considered culpable if the dead person’s relatives cannot prove this. Let the culpable one save himself with 12 neighbours swearing an oath: and let the culpable one (whom I have just mentioned earlier) remain in his house for nine days, and then leave the town after nine days, and let him remain outside the town until he gains the pardon of the dead person’s relatives. If the one who died has no relatives, let the Council deal with his homicide and do what is necessary for his soul.
7. The resident of Calatayud who can have men on his estate as tenants- Christians, Moors or Jews- is to be responsible only to himself and not to any other Señor.[v]
8. As for the resident who abducts his female neighbour who is from Calatayud: if she wishes to go to her relatives, the abductor is to pay the woman’s relatives a fine of 500 solidi, and afterwards he is to be considered culpable. If she wishes to go with him, let them live together as best as they can, and she is to be considered culpable.
9. Similarly, when a resident rapes his female neighbour, and she comes raising a complaint and has two witnesses: the resident is to pay a fine as mentioned earlier and is to be considered culpable. If she cannot prove it and he denies it, let him save himself with 12 people swearing an oath: and if he cannot save himself, he is to pay a fine as I have mentioned.
10. As for the resident who takes up arms against his neighbour within the city: he is to pay a fine of 60 solidi: a third of that to the king, a third to the Council, and a third to the plaintiff. Similarly, the one who comes as part of an armed gang against his neighbour and strikes or wounds him, is to pay a fine of 60 solidi, similarly divided into three parts.
11. The Council of Calatayud is to have the judge[vi] they wish for, and he is to remain in his position for a year, and afterwards let the council members do as they wish.
12. The one who refuses to give collateral to a judge for a debt or contract, let him pay the judge a fine of five solidi, and the one who refuses to give collateral to the sayón[vii] is to pay the latter a fine of six denarii.
13. The judge who is in his position is to demand from the Señor the collection of fines that have accumulated.
14. No resident is to be the mayordomo[viii] of the king or of the Señor, and the one who takes up that position is to pay 100 solidi to the Council for doing so.
15. The one who is Señor of Calatayud is not to testify against any resident.
16. No resident is to give tribute for transit and sale of merchandise[ix] in the entire land of the lord king, and the one who forcibly extracts it from someone is to pay a fine of 1000 morabetinos in three parts, as I have mentioned earlier.
17. As for the resident to whom they give a loan for the purchase of a horse, let the Council see his property. If the resident has the means to buy, let him buy the horse.
18. If our Lord King has a battle in the field, may a third of the knights come forth, and from among that third, whoever does not participate in the battle is to pay a fine of a solidus.
19. As for the cabalgadores[x] of Calatayud, they are to care for all the wounds and compensate for loss of horses, using the booty they obtain. They are also to give a fifth of the captives and the living cattle, and they are to give nothing from anything else they take.
20. If it turns out that they take a captive who is a king, that captive is to belong to the lord king, while a fifth of other captives are to belong to the lord king.
21. No knight of the king or of the Señor or of any man is to have right to accommodation in the house of any resident of Calatayud without the resident’s willing consent.
22. Let the residents of Calatayud have ovens, baths, shops, mills and canals, each one being in the most suitable location where it can be built.
23. He who must swear regarding a homicide or a battle, is to swear over an altar, and for other causes, he is to swear over a wooden or stone cross. He who must swear is to say this: “By God, and this cross, I swear to you”- and he is not to do this for any other reason. And the one who receives the oath is to say this: “If he is lying, may he perish.” Then the one who swears is to respond once: “Amen.” And subsequently let there be no other quarrel or dispute in the oath, but rather may there be peace upon the Cross and good-will of the oath from sunrise to sunset.
24. When a resident strikes another, the latter may come to blows with the former, regardless of whether the former is a footman or a knight.
25. The resident of Calatayud is not to be required to pay mañería.[xi]
26. He who becomes a guarantor for something by command is not to be responsible for it after half a year has elapsed. He who willingly becomes a guarantor is to be responsible as long as he lives. After his death, his wife, children, and relatives are not to be responsible for it.
27. With regards to the one who commits homicide and flees to Calatayud or the one who brings a captured woman there: if anyone chases them, that person is not enter into the territory of Calatayud in pursuit of them until he informs the Council of that.
28. The one who chases his neighbour to strike or apprehend him, and confines the latter in his home and strikes or hits at his door: if the one confined has two witnesses, the one who has done wrong is to pay a fine of 300 solidi to the one who was confined. If the one who was confined does not have witnesses, the other party is to swear over the altar where one swears regarding homicide, saying that he has not done what he is accused of.
29. False witnesses are to be subject to the judgement of battle.[xii]
30. No resident is to pay collateral of anything except cattle that comes out from the town in the morning and should come back at night. The owner of the cattle that has gone out by morning and should come back by night is to swear an oath, and afterwards the one to whom the collateral has been pledged is to come and place his bond before his judge. If he does not want to take the collateral, let him bring witnesses and go back, and afterwards let the owner of the cattle take back the cattle as best as he can.
31. If someone takes collateral from his neighbour and takes them away from the latter’s domicile, he is to pay them back double.
32. With regards to every resident of Calatayud: if the Señor or another resident does harm to him, he should raise a complaint in the Council, and afterwards the Council may help him. If the Council does not want to help him, let him leave his wife, children, property and all he has in the town so that they may be safe for him, and afterwards let him leave the town, and let him take a pledge from the Council as best as he can, until the Council should double his property for him.
33. With regards to every Moor who is in the territory of Calatayud and flees to a safe haven: let the Council give his inheritance to a Christian. Let the same policy be applied with regards to the Jew.
34. Let the Christians, Moors and Jews buy from each other where they wish to do so and can do so.
35. With regards to the Christian who kills a Jew or a Moor: if the crime is manifestly proven true, the Christian is to pay a fine of 300 solidi. If he denies doing it, he is to save himself with the help of another, who is to swear that he did not do the crime.
36. The Christian is to test the evidence of a Jew with a Christian and a Jew, and the Jew is similarly to test the Christian, and the same applies regarding the Moor.
37. The Christian is to swear before the Jew and the Moor over the Cross.The Jew is to swear before the Christian on the basis of his own charter, holding the Torah. The Moor who wants to swear before the Christian is to say three times: “Alamin catçamo.”[xiii]
38. As for the clergymen who are in Calatayud: let each one of them reside in his own church. Let them give a quarter of their bread, wine and lambs to their church, and let them not give a quarter from anything else. Let them keep their churches and have their fueros and judges as their neighbours do.
39. With regards to the one who sells his inheritance, let the one who buys it come to collect it from the one who is selling, and let him do his transaction with the seller there.
40. As for the inheritance that is sold for at least 50 solidi, the one who buys should give a deposit of two solidi, and if he does not want to give two solidi, he is to give a meal to four men.
41. The one who buys an inheritance and subsequently keeps hold of it for half a year, is not to be responsible for it before any man.
42. The one who succumbs in battle[xiv] for having provided false testimony is to pay double the original penalty.
43. The thief who steals and later denies it, and then engages in the duel and falls, is to pay back double what he stole to the property’s original owner and a ninth part of that to the palace.
44. For all the cattle from outside Calatayud that remains for three days in the territory of Calatayud, the montazgo tax[xv] is to be given: for a herd, one female cow, and for a flock, one sheep: half of this is to be given to the king, and the other half to the Council.
45. The resident of Calatayud is not to give the 20% tax on profit anywhere except in Calatayud.
46. As for the situation whereby someone holds a Moorish captive in Calatayud, while a Christian is held in the land of the Moors who could be exchanged for that Moor: the Christian’s relatives may come and give the same price for which the Moor was purchased, and once they have paid the price, let them receive the Moor from the Christian and take their own Christian back. If the one who owned the Moor wishes, let him take his Moor and compensate for the price that he took.
47. The one who gives collateral in the town without a sayón is to pay six denarii to the judge.
48. The first inhabitant who comes is not to be responsible before another who comes later with regards to any dispute, nor before the one who was previously his lord. If two inhabitants came at the same time, and one makes a claim against the other, let them stand before the judgement of the Council.
49. The one who maltreats or derides a married woman is to pay a fine of 300 solidi to the husband and to the woman’s relatives in the event that there are two witnesses. If there are no witnesses, let him come with 12 inhabitants, and let six of them swear with him.
50. If one woman mistreats another woman, comes to blows with the latter and causes wounds, let her pay for these injuries, if there are witnesses. If there are no witnesses, she should swear by her head that she did not do it.
51. If Moors or Christians take the cattle of a resident of Calatayud and later the cabalgadores of Calatayud recover the cattle, the owner of the cattle should come and swear before another resident that the cattle were his and he did not give or sell it to anyone. If the resident’s beast is a horse or mare, five solidi are to be paid. If the stolen cattle concern a cow or an ass, one solidus is to be paid per cow/ass.
52. If a man from Calatayud finds a captive who flees and belongs to the town, then he is to receive five solidi for the captive, and if the captive does not belong to a resident, he is to receive half of that sum.
53. As for the person of Calatayud who captures cattle that does not belong to a resident and does so outside the territory, he is to receive half for that.
54. As for when a man from Calatayud has a dispute in some other land, comes before the council where he has the dispute, and the council does not render any justice to him, then that person is to find witnesses there, and later come to Calatayud, bring together his witnesses and take collateral in the field, and from the collateral that he takes, let him take 60 solidi for asadura,[xvi] and if the men of Calatayud kill someone else in taking collateral, the matter should not be considered homicide.
55. If a Christian strikes a Jew, the Jew should not come to blows with him. If the Christian causes injuries to the Jew and the Jew has a witness, then the Christian should also pay recompense for the injuries. If the Jew does not have witnesses, the Christian should swear that he did not commit the act, and let the same procedure apply for the Moor. Also let the same procedure apply for the Jew who strikes the Christian.
56. If a Christian or Moors take the cattle of Calatayud as booty and the knights or footmen recover the cattle outside the territory, then the knights or footmen should receive five solidi for each horse, mare and mule, and one solidus for each ass and cow, and for smaller-sized cattle, two denarii each. This territory for these cattle should be just as was written when we delineated the land.
57. With regards to all the fueros and the small and great disputes that have been between residents and have not been written in this document, let them come before the decision and judgement of the entire council, with the Lord God’s help.
58. As for the one who inflicts a blow on his neighbour such that the bones come out, the one who committed the act is to pay a fine of 60 solidi to the injured party.
59. The one who breaks the tooth of his neighbour is to pay a fine of 100 solidi.
60. The one who cuts off the hand or foot of his neighbour, gouges out his neighbour’s eye or cuts off his nostrils, is to pay the fine for homicide.
61. If a servant who is remunerated kills a man, and they denounce him while he is with his master, he is to render accountability before his master, but if this happens when he has left his master, he is not to render accountability before his master.
62. If any man gets into a fight with his neighbour and kills the latter’s children during that fight, then the man’s relatives are to pay the fine for homicide.
63. If a father kills his son and the latter dies because of the blows inflicted, the matter should not be considered homicide.
64. If a horse, cow or other beast strikes a man and then the man dies because of this, the matter should not be considered homicide. But if the animal causes some injuries, the animal’s owner is to pay for the cost of treating them.
65. If a house collapses and kills a man, the matter is not to be considered homicide.
66. If a man falls into the channel of a mill or a water-mill and dies, the matter is not to be considered homicide.
67. No resident of Calatayud who passes through the passes of Pamplona or those of Jaca is to give the toll tax on goods in going or coming. The one who takes that tribute from the person is to pay a fine of 1000 morabetinos divided into three parts as previously mentioned.
68. By the grace of God, I- King Alfonso- grant you, the people of Calatayud, the following boundaries:
I grant you Chodes with its territory, according to how the waters come to Calatayud, and according to how the sierra of Castiella called Albediano passes, and according to how the sierra of Viduerna comes to Calatayud.
I grant you Berdello with its territory up to Calatayud.
I grant you with Caravantes with its territory up to Calatayud.
I grant you Albalat with its territory and from there up to Calatayud.
I grant you Fariza with its territory and from there up to Calatayud.
I grant you Anchel with its territory and from there up to Calatayud.
I grant you Milmarcos with its territory up to Calatayud.
I grant you Guisemam with its territory up to Calatayud, and according to how the Mara se Maxaran comes and thus goes up to the tower of Zaida.
I grant you Cubel with its territory and from there up to Calatayud.
I grant you Langa with its territory up and from there up to Calatayud.
I grant you Codos with its territory up to Calatayud.
By the grace of God, this charter was written and affirmed by royal hand in the village called Bisense, on the day of Saint Stephan in December, era 1169.[xvii]
King Alfonso’s seal.
And here are the witnesses who heard and saw: the count of Pallarés, the count of Artal Señor Iñigo Jiménez de Extramadura; Beltrán de Larves, Sacho Fortunez de Chavarre; Bishop Pedro of Roda; Señor Berenguer Gonbaldo of Capella; Señor Guillermo Garocius of Bissense; Pedro Jozbert of Anzare; Bishop Arnaldo of Huesca; Señor Sancho Juan of Huesca; Señor Tizonio in Boillo. Señor Ato Carcés of Barbastro; Bishop Carcia of Zaragoza; Señor Lope Carcés of Alagón; Señor Ortio Ortiz of Borja; the count of Pertica in Tudela; Bishop Michael of Tarazona; Señor Fortún López of Soria; Señor Fortún Aznárez of Berlanga; Señor Lope Iñiguez of Monte Real; Bishop Sancho of Pamplona; Señor Pedro Tizón of Estella; Señor Fortún Garcés Cajal of Nájera; Señor Lope López of Sos and Ricla; Bishop Sancho of Nájera; Señor Don Gómez of Cerezo; Señor Ladrón of Alba; Señor Pedro Moinez of Aironiz.
During my reign by the grace of God, I- King Alfonso- rule from Bilforado to Pallares, and from Bayona to Monte Real.
If any king, count, señor or resident wants to do away with or falsify what has been written above, let that person have no share in the living and true God who made Heaven, Earth, the sea and everything in them, but rather let that person incur the wrath of Almighty God our same Lord Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary the Holy Mother of God, and the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints. And may he be cursed and deemed anathema, and may he have no share with God’s saints or any good Christs, but rather, along with the traitor Judas who handed over the Lord, may he suffer equal punishment in the form of tribulation, anxiety and grief in the lower depth of Hell.
Amen, Amen, Amen. Let it be so. Let it be so. Let it be so.
I King Ramiro, by the grace of God: the knights of Calatayud requested a gift from me, and with good will and good mind I grant them the village called Aranda, together with its territory, so that they may have it as a free and clear possession throughout all ages. Amen. And let them not give more than a fifth part in tribute, but rather just a tenth part, and let them make the walls and towers of Calatayud from the income that is extracted in the village and its territory.
By the grace of God, I- King Ramiro- commend what has been written above to you and grant and confirm it throughout all ages, and these are the witnesses: Señor Lope Lopez of Calatayud; Señor Castano of Bel; Señor Lope Fortuñonez of Albero; Señor Férriz of Saint Eulalia; Raymond Periz of Tordeira; Señor Pedro Romeo of Senato; Señor Sencio Sanz de Essum of Morés; Guillermo García, mayordomo of Gustrán; Señor Semén Garcés de Albera of Peña; Señor Lope Arcez Arcayne of Melcorna; the chaplains in Capella; don Iñigo of Albén, don Fortún of Montearagone; Señor Iñigo de Navasa in Billiella.
This document was written two days before the Nones of October in era 1172 in Calatayud.[xviii] Whoever wants to do away with this document should be as mentioned above: firstly, that person should incur the anger of God, all His persons and the 12 apostles. And may the curse of God and all the saints come upon him and his generation. Amen.
[i] A vague term suggesting a resolution of legal disputes with people from different districts, with the resolution held at the city gate.
[ii] A form of Spanish currency, etymologically linked to the Arabic name for the Berber Almoravids (al-Murabitun: ‘The Sentinels’) who were ruling the Muslim-held parts of Iberia at the time. However, the minting of the morabetino did not begin in the Christian parts of Spain until 1172 under Alfonso VIII of Castile, pointing to subsequent redaction of the text from the 1131 original.
[iii] The king’s representative.
[iv] i.e. The local council of Calatayud.
[v] i.e. The landlord can freely rent out to Jewish, Christian and Muslim tenants.
[vi] i.e. The political and judicial head of the council.
[vii] An official of the council, responsible for taking collateral, executing sentences, guarding prisoners and implementing punishments etc.
[viii] Council official responsible for economic administration and collection of council income.
[ix] The term used here is lezda, which is the tax on merchandise being moved and sold in the market.
[x] Participants in ‘cabalgadas’: a form of expedition.
[xi] A tribute paid in order to have the right to transmit the right to one’s inheritance, thus preventing landlords from acquiring the property of their tenants.
[xii] Testing the disputing parties to see which one was telling the truth or to establish the innocence or guilt of the accused. A duel with weapons was one way of implementing this test.
[xiii] This may mean: “By the trusted one I swear” (i.e. swearing by the Prophet Muhammad).
[xiv] i.e. The loser in the judicial test: e.g. loses the duel.
[xv] A tax collected on delivery of goods into a town for sale in the market, normally paid either at the gates of the town or in the market.
[xvi] Asadura: paid for transit of cattle. Here, intended as recompense for damages suffered.
[xvii] 1131 CE.
[xviii] 6 October 1134 CE.