Mark S. Weiner

Posts Tagged ‘Aragonese Law’

Muslims, Christians and Legal Bargaining

In Books and libraries, Cross-cultural encounters & comparisons, Europe, Islam, Spain on August 22, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Back to the Getty’s images from the Vidal Mayor, the great thirteenth-century redaction of Aragonese law.

The manuscript emerges from a critical moment in the relation between Christianity and Islam, the Spanish Reconquista—the gradual capture by Christian crusaders of Muslim Iberia, the caliphate of al-Andalus.

This moment plays a vital role in the ideology of Al Qaeda and its Salafi-jihadist affiliates. Osama bin Laden spoke repeatedly of the “tragedy of al-Andalus,” and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb frequently refers to Muslim Spain in its messaging (for more detail, see this succinct article from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point).

The political imagination of Al Qaeda and company, that is, is fueled by the historical memory of the larger time and place in which Bishop Vidal de Cañellas made his great legal redaction for King James I of Aragon.

From Vidal Mayor

In my previous post, I noted that the charters, or fueros, that the Vidal Mayor incorporates were part of a process in which Iberian royals attracted Christian settlement within the peninsula by offering various legal privileges. They used fueros much like Delaware today uses its laws of incorporation—as an enticement.

If you’re a king and want to attract merchants to a town, what do you do? Provide its inhabitants with especially strong protections of their private property and announce that henceforth they’re exempt from certain taxes. In the meantime, put an end to the violence of clan feuds, which are detrimental to commerce.

Want to draw nobles to a frontier where they may have to fight Muslim forced by horseback?  Provide them with legal exemptions from their usual mandatory military service. Read the rest of this entry »