Vidal Mayor

Safe-Conducts

Guidatica – or safe-conducts – were important instruments in letting the commerce in Medieval Spain run smoothly. New research explores the role of these in the unfolding of the convivencia.

Heterogeneity and exchange: Safe-conducts in Medieval Spain
Daniel J. Smith
, Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, Troy University
IN: The Review of Austrian Economics
2014: Vol 27, issue 1. February

ABSTRACT:

During a time when religious animosities were reaching their peak in Medieval Europe leading up to the violent crusades, Christians, Jews, and Muslims residing in close proximity in Medieval Spain experienced a period of relative peace, prosperity, and cultural exchange. This historical episode, referred to as La Convivencia, or the coexistence, is a puzzle to many period historians. This paper argues that this anomalistic period arose due to the emergence of commerce, which generated cooperation and mitigated conflict among these heterogeneous groups, à la the Doux-Commerce Thesis of the Scottish Enlightenment. Commercial exchange between Christians, Jews, and Muslims was established through the use of safe-conducts, a promise of protection sold to foreign merchants. This paper details the operation of safe-conducts and the civilizing role that commerce played among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Medieval Spain.

According to Daniel Smith” The Doux-commerce thesis was first articulated by the Scottish enlightenment thinkers. According to them the act of engaging in commerce itself plays a civilizing role in society. Through exchange, self-interest is channeled towards the establishment of cooperative relations, conflict resolution and even the diminution of social distance.” According to this study commercial relations between Christians, jews and Muslims in medieval Spain were established through the use of safe-conducts while a promise of protection was sold to foreign merchants, trading in textiles, leather, paper and spices. This commerce was facilitated by the use of safe-conducts: primitive passports or letters of recommendation.

READ MORE:

The guidaticum safe-conduct in Medieval Arago-Catlonia; a mini-institution for Muslims, Christians and Jews
By Robert I. Burns
Medieval Encounters: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Culture in Confluence and Dialogue. Brill 1995, Vol 1, 51 -113.

 

Leave a Reply