12 de February de 2016



Plane of paces when Harca Group participated in a conference or History meeting::



11th European Social Science History Conference (Valencia, 2016)

Between 30 March and 2 Aphril take place in Valencia the 11th European Social Science History Conference , and Harca Group participated whit a session about the demesnes in Medieval and Pre-modern ages. You can see the abstracts of the paper here:

Demesne Farming and the Agency of Large Landownership in Medieval and pre-Modern Europe

This session wants to revise the features of the lord’s demesnes, both secular and ecclesiastical, in the long run. The papers of the sessions will examine the evolution and transformation of the demesne in different observatories of Europe to compare them. It is true that this issue has been an essential aspect of the studies about the manorial system in the European historiography. However, in the very recent years it has attracted the attention of the historians, which rethink about it through the new methodologies, particularly the archaeology. In order to make the results comparable, the researchers will follow, in the extent possible, the same criteria. First of all, which was the extension of the demesne in relation with the rest of the lord’s estate? Regarding to the long run, which was the evolution of the demesne during the transition from the Middle Ages to the Pre-Modern Era? What crops were grown and which was their destination, for the local markets or for consumption of the lord’s house? Did these demesnes become an instruments in lord’s hands to perpetuate the their feudal rights over the serfs or, on the contrary, a springboard for the consolidation of the wage labour? These are some of the questions that this session intends to answer.


Valencian Demesnes in the Bottom Line: Management, Production and Commercialization (13th-18th Centuries)
Frederic Aparisi and Ferran Esquilache (University of Valencia)
Everything related to the lord’s estates has been stayed out of the main research lines in the last two decades. Medieval and early modern historians has paid attention to other aspects of the rural society such as the consumption of the peasantry, the rural elites and the differentiation of the rural community or the evolution of the agrarian landscape. With regard to the lord’s demesnes, they were analysed in the 80’s and the first years of 90’s in the context of the studies referred to the whole lord’s estate. Nevertheless, generally speaking, they were always a part of a wider research due to the lack of information and the their smallness. Now we intend to place the lord’s demesne in the bottom line. We seek to give an overview of the demesnes in the Valencian Country, from 13th to 18th centuries, paying attention both secular and ecclesiastical lordships. We will examine aspects related to the management of the demesne, the extension and the quality of the soil, particularly if they were or not concentrated in the irrigated lands, the crops were grown, the volume of production and its destination, the market or the lord’s house. We seek to evaluate to what extent the evolution of the lord’s demesne reflected the transformations of the Valencian agriculture in the long run, especially with regard to the introduction of new crops and the introduction of the irrigation, or, on the contrary, they were kept indifferent to this changes. For achieving these aims, we intend to combine medieval and early-modern manorial records and notarial registries, for obtaining information about the management and the role of the demesne in the whole lord’s economy.

Development of Demesne Lordship in Croatian-Slavonian Kingdom in the 16th and 17th Centuries
Branimir Brgles (Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics)
The Croatian-Slavonian Kingdom has not yet been sufficiently researched in relation to the rise of early modern demesne farming. Even though significant research has been done during the 1970’s, many questions remained unanswered. Aiming to answer these questions, new research concepts and methods were employed. The methodology used combines quantification of serial records, a “micro-level” approach and recently described “micro-exemplary” method. The author will try to answer questions concerning the speed of development of demesne lordship in these feudal holdings compared to manors in the rest of Central Europe. Can we find evidence that model of feudal lordship found in this region is a consequence of special historical circumstances?.

Management of Demesne Land in Southern Belgium and Luxembourg, 1000-1300 AD
Nicolas Schroeder (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
From the 11th to the beginning of the 14th century, the management of demesne land underwent significant change in the region forming contemporary southern Belgium. Traditionally, this evolution has been described as the “decay” of carolingian estate organization. However, this approach tends to neglect the diversity and flexibility of estate structures. It does not consider lords as active managers, but as passive victims of socio-economic change. The paper discusses this paradigm. Lords will be considered as agents who were actively engaged into the management of their demesne. Change is reinterpreted in a much more complex perspective, that distinguishes between inheritance, adaptation, and innovation, leading towards success or failure, rather than simple “decay”. This approach also challenges the spatial and temporal frames of previous research, that was essentially oriented towards general long-term trends and regional evolutions. A “micro-ecological perspective” (Horden & Purcell) is developed in this paper, that considers each estate as a specific farming unit. Although these estates were inserted into the same broad socio-economic context, their individual histories are not always convergent. Many factors, such as the environment, the strategies of peasants and lords or the influences of markets led towards specific local developments.

Boon Work and Exploitation of the Demesne in Early and High Middle in Eastern Belgium
Alexis Wilkin (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
Resting upon previous studies upon Eastern ‘Belgium’ during the early and high Middle Ages (amongst others written by Ganshof, Verhulst, Morimoto, Kuchenbuch, Devroey, Wilkin and Schroeder) this paper aims to explain the various logics encountered in Carolingian and Post Carolingian Times for the cultivation of the seigneurial demesne. While the classical manorial system is encountered here and there, it is far from being the only scheme applied for cultivation, despite the fact that this area is located in the core of the Carolingian realm. Specific attention will be devoted to the (seldom) use of ‘boon work’ performed by dependent farmers on the demesne, as it is supposed to be a determinative feature of the ‘carolingian’ manorial system. On the opposite, later examples will prove that boon work was sometimes reintroduced by seigniorial landowners, thus suggesting that the straightforward decline of this practice has to be, at least, nuanced and understood according to intra-regional and peculiar seigniorial logics.




Rural History (Girona, 2015)

Between 7 and 10 September 2015 take place in Girona (Catalonia), the Rural History, the conference of the European Rural History Associaton. The Harca Group organizated a session, and you can see the abstracts here:

The management of natural resources in medieval Iberian Peninsula. Common institutions?

One of the particularities of the feudal society in the Iberian Peninsula is that most of its territories were the result of the process of expansion developed between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries against Al-Andalus. The Christian conquerors built a new agrarian landscape in accordance with the socioeconomic system prevailing in Western Europe. However, they also inherited a large quantity of farming areas from the Muslim society, which they reused and adapted to their own needs. Thus, the legislation that let manage those areas was the result of the combination of feudal and Muslim practices.
Another of the features that characterizes the Iberian Peninsula is the Mediterranean climate. The shortage of pastures implied regional and social struggles, which were not always dealt by communal institutions. Furthermore, the aridity of the Iberian lands demanded the use of water for irrigation and its scarcity originated conflicts amongst those who had right to use it as a common property. In this connection, irrigation communities of Valencia have been one of the examples used by Elionor Ostrom to establish the basic points of a stable management. Said that, new researches have proved that the control of the water was not always in the hands of irrigators.
In this session, we seek if there was a true communal management of grazing lands and water sources in the medieval rural communities of the Iberian Peninsula. And if that, how landlords, urban oligarchies and rural elites acted to control them, despite peasantry.


Who can make use of it? Conflicts for natural resources in the medieval Kingdom of Valencia
Vicent Baydal (University of Oxford) and Frederic Aparisi (University of Valencia)
The Kingdom of Valencia was created by James I of Aragon in the mid-thirteenth century, after the conquest of Islamic lands in the East of the Iberian Peninsula, through the promulgation of a legal code that tried to declare public all the natural resources of the territory. The only enclosure of lands allowed, with royal license, were the ‘bovalars’, a reserved and common area for the cattle of the inhabitants of each town. However, the lords tried to collect taxes for the use of the natural resources of their own dominions, only allowing the free use of ‘bovalars’ to the inhabitants of their manors. This caused numerous disputes, especially between lords and the city of Valencia, which shall be the main subject of this paper.

The management of natural resources in the eastern of the current province of Guadalajara after the Christian conquest
Guillermo García-Contreras (University of Reading-University of Granada)
The aim is to analyse from the point of view of the environmental history the process of feudal expansion in the province of Guadalajara (central Iberia), and the change that that took place in the landscape between the eleventh to thirteenth centuries when the kingdom of Castile conquered the lands that belonged to al-Andalus. This historical process has been traditionally studied through written sources, paying attention only to the fortifications or the religious change consequence of the introduction of Christianity. However, it is necessary to analyse some important issues such as the exploitation of natural resources and the creation of new agroecosystems. We will use information from written sources preserved in the archives of the cathedral of Sigüenza, the results of the archaeological surveys to know the settlement patterns and the data from paleoenvironmental analysis, particularly palynological, published by other authors but not focused on this topic.

Rights on water resources in Lleida during feudal colonisation, 1150-1250
Josep Marfull (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
After being conquered in 1149 by the counts Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona and Ermengol VI of Urgell, the city of Lleida was given a Carta Pobla, were, among other privileges, rights on water resources were granted. Nevertheless, by the end of the 12th century, all the main channels the feudals constructed were held by individuals. In this context, Pere Sassala ‘Çavassèquia’ is supposed to be the promoter of the construction of both Segrià and Fontanet channels, being interpreted his nickname as çavassèquia (channel digger). However, it has been argued that çavassequia and other variations as zabacequia, zabecequia and cavacèquia are transliterations from the Arabic ṣaḥib al-saqiya (person in charge of the channel). Anyhow, Pere and his descendants had effective rights on water resources that were supposed to be granted to the city. After various agreements between 1195 and 1229, these rights were acquired by the municipality of Lleida.

Governing the irrigation. Conflict between feudal power and collective management in the Medieval and Pre-modern Horta of Valencia
Enric Guinot and Ferran Esquilache (University of Valencia)
Traditionally, historiography has considered the irrigator groups in the huerta of Valencia as examples of self-managed communities, or instances of collective action. This was the perspective followed by Elionor Ostrom, who used them to illustrate the management of common-pool resources. According to Ostrom, communal institutions that manage to survive over time share eight characteristics in their design. It should be noted, however, that Ostrom did not study Valencian irrigation communities first-hand. In recent years, our growing understanding of the huerta and the management models followed therein has improved. It is, therefore, pertinent to examine whether the information with which Ostrom worked and, it follows, her conclusions about the reasons for the survival of the huerta of Valencia, remain valid. This paper will focus on the legal origins of these irrigation institutions and their internal form of organization; on the social origin of their members; and in whose hands ultimate control rested.

The domain of the water: institutional conflict and social reality. South of the Kingdom of Valencia, 14th- 15th centuries
Miriam Parra (University of Alicante)
The search for the control of something as precious as water has been a constant in the historical development of societies. Its scarcity and high valuation by the human being in its various uses was the main cause of conflicts and struggles for the control over their use, supply and distribution. During the Late Medieval Ages the subjugation of the lands conquered under the power of Christian councils or different feudal powers imposed new legislative rules over the use of water. In this talk the institutional and legal organization of the regulation of water in fertile valley of the current region of the Bajo Segura, located in the south of the medieval kingdom of Valencia (south-east of Spain), will be analysed during the Late Middle Ages (14th- 15th centuries).




Rural History (Bern, 2013)

Between 19 and 22 August 2013 take place in Bern (Switzerland) the Rural History 2013, the conference of the European Rural History Association. The Harca group participated with one session:
Commons in Pre-modern Europe: Uses, conflicts and evolution in comparative view

The process by which commons and woods were privatized by lords, urban groups and peasants is well known mainly in Great Britain and other northern European territories, in which livestock farming was important for the wool industry. However, this was not the case all over Europe, since the commons lasted in many regions until the industrial revolution and the privatization was only partial in others, especially to create arable land in woodlands and to drain wetlands. The purpose of this session is to compare some of these last cases in order to know better the role of the commons in the economic development and to exchange views about their study in different parts of Europe.
In particular, we shall focus on three areas: Valencia in Eastern Spain, the Campine in the Low Countries, and Apulia in Southern Italy. In the first case, two papers will analyze the legal framework of the commons and the conflicts among lords, towns and commoners, as well as the specific role of the elites in these conflicts, in the kingdom of Valencia from 13th to 15th centuries. In the second case, another paper will show the type of regulation of the commons in the Campine during the 16th century, with particular attention to the social structure of this area. In the third case a final paper will explore the origins of the inequality in Apulia by studying the collective agricultural system which was carried out there between 16th and 18th centuries. In sum, we shall discuss similarities and differences in the uses, the management and the role of the commons in distinct premodern European regions.


  • Commons in the late medieval Crown of Aragon: Regulation, uses and conflicts, 13th-15th centuries- Vicent Baydal (University of Oxford) and Vicent Royo (University of Valencia)
  • Managing the Commons: The role of the elites in the uses of common lands in the Midlands of the kingdom of Valencia during the Middle Ages – Frederic Aparisi (University of Valencia) and Ferran Esquilache (University of Valencia)
  • The common denominator: The regulation of the community of users within the Campine area during the 16th century – Maïka De Keyzer (University of Antwerp)
  • A new Mezzogiorno? Exploring the diverse and dynamic paths towards the inequitable distribution of property in Southern Italy through an examination of institutions for the collective management of resources in Apulia, 1600-1900 – Daniel R. Curtis, University of Utrecht



International Medieval Meeting Lleida 2012

The second International Medieval Meeting Lleida will be held at the University of Lleida (Catalonia) from 26 to 29 June 2012. Harca will be there with the session we have organized on Ideology and Society in Middle Ages, to which we have invited several researchers.

Discourses of Power. Ideology and Leadership in late medieval Europe

Throughout the Middle Ages, the powerful classes generated discourses to justify their position of social, political and economic supremacy. For instance, we all know the ideological texts written for the German emperors and the popes in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, in the context of the secular dispute for the domain over the Western Christendom. From the thirteenth century, with the progress of states and the consolidation of monarchies, the discourses of power moved to another sphere. The monarchs were now the protagonists of works that justified their supremacy over nobles and churchmen, constituting the leaders of an entire society by divine appointment. The monarchy became the supreme source of law and justice in these texts, having below it a framework of rights and jurisdictions belonging to the lords. It is from such a vision that states were born and consolidated throughout the medieval and modern times.
The development of these discourses created a certain literature in the service of the royal power, which was soon adopted by other classes to justify their position of dominance. First were the noble lineages, especially Italians, who commissioned the making of genealogies that justified their control over the cities that they dominated. The patricians and burghers of the towns and cities across Western Europe did the same later, especially from the second half of the fourteenth century, when they consolidated as leaders of urban centers and perpetuated their position in charge of many municipalities, which had reached wide fiscal and jurisdictional prerogatives. In this sense, the political consolidation of municipalities led to the formation of an urban political class, which inserted in the structures of the states through the Parliaments, also justifying its position with political and ideological propaganda based on the discourse of the good government of the public affairs.
This is a strategy that the rural elites copied. In this case there are no written texts that show the existence of a unitary ideology, but a number of expressions and manifestations from the urban culture were incorporated to legitimize its dominant position at the head of the peasant communities. Material wealth and ancestry gave them prestige that was strengthened through their involvement in political affairs, acquiring de facto power over other neighbors. Thus, ideology and leadership were inextricably linked. Both the urban and the rural classes needed discourses, performances, demonstrations and expressions that justify their dominant role over other social groups. And we will analyze these relationships between ideology and ruling classes through the communications of this session on Discourses of Power: Ideology and Leadership in late medieval Europe.


Valencia in 1347-48. The ideology of the revolt of the Union
Vicent Baydal (Noguera Foundation)
In May 1347, against the attempts of Peter the Ceremonious to see recognized his daughter Constance as the heir of the throne, since he had no male issue, riots broke out in the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia. However, although presented in the same legal form, a Union; in defence of the respective laws and privileges, membership and objectives were very different. While in Aragon dominated the great barons and knights, in Valencia it was the citizens who had the majority, with the support of many peasant communities. In fact, the succession issue was just the spark that ignited the riots, linked to previous reasons. So, in this communication we will try to analyse which was the dominant ideology among the rebels in Valencia: On which basis did they build it? Who was the responsible for its creation and spreading? What goals did they pursue? What arguments did they use? What changes did this ideology experience throughout the year-and-a-half revolt? Overall, we see that the jurists, who knew and defended the written law, were the main ideologists of the Valencian Union against the royal authoritarianism.

The power of words. The ideological discourse of rural elites in the Middle Ages
Frederic Aparisi (Cardenal Herrera University – CEU)
Traditionally, the medieval historiography has paid attention to the discourses of power and those who broke the established social order, but this has been always done from an urban perspective. Nevertheless, trying to move this from the city to the countryside has been more complicated not only by the lack of sources but also because some historians doubt the existence of an ideological discourse typical of the rural notables, and often even the very notion of rural elites. Nonetheless, this communication seeks to find just that, the discourses of power in the context of rural communities. Indeed, through the language used by well-to-do families, or those who wrote about them, we try to grasp the basic elements of the ideology of this group. From the study of notary records but also the acts of the local court of justice and of the Governació, we analyzed the way of differentiation through the uses of the language that those families employed and that were obvious for society. So the vocabulary defines, it generates action and even could identify a group, certainly with profiles quite lax, but perhaps more lax for professionals of history than for themselves. Words such as prohom, yeomen or fermier or forms of treatment were not words used freely, by the contrary, reflected the recognition of the individual. In addition to that, the Valencian countryside allows us to analyze these speeches in two distinct ethnic groups, Muslims and Christians. Many times we find errors and drafts of scribes when referring to Muslims. After all, these drafts show the particular uses of language. Therefore, the words we can define a group, in this case, the wealthy sectors of rural society and better shape their defining features.

Power, Justice and Social Peace. The peacekeeping role of Valencian rural elites in the late Middle Ages
Vicent Royo (University of Valencia)
The principle of peace, as was required by the Christian morality, should govern the relations between people in the medieval society, regardless of their social status. The king and lay and ecclesiastical lords were guarantors of the peace in their domains. For that, they articulated a network of courts whose function was to ensure the smooth functioning of daily life and law enforcement. But besides kings and lords, the richer neighbors were responsible for keeping the peace in the context of rural communities. And they did it thanks to their active participation at the head of the local courts, but above all through mediation and intercession in the clashes that marked everyday life.
Material wealth and notable ancestries transferred prestige and a distinguished status to the leaders, who mediate conflicts to restore balance when the social fabric was damaged and to achieve a lasting peace to impose a new harmony in the community. Local notables knew that they needed to eradicate hatred and impose the peace and, to do so, they generated an ideology of reconciliation and the achievement of peace that followed a pattern well-marked and well known for all. This ideology and role of peacekeepers, on the other hand, reinforced their power in the communities because they were the responsible to rebuild the friendship and cordial ties between neighbors, displaying a deep sense of justice and fairness in their actions. Thus, this communication shall analyze the role assumed by the local notables as mediators and peacemakers in the rural communities of the kingdom of Valencia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, in order to discern the close relationship between the ideology of conciliation and the power of rural elites.

The discourse before the power: the stance of the aristocratic elites from Ultrapuertos on the dominion of the king of Navarre during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries
Susana Aparicio (Public University of Navarra)
The Navarrese land of Ultrapuertos were at the periphery of the Iberian kingdoms during the Middle Ages and this involved a problematic reality, since it was an area of friction between the major European powers at the time. However, the aristocratic elite held a balanced speech against the royal power. On the one hand, they kept their privileges safe and kept the Crown away from their business. At the time of the great conflicts between Navarre, France and England, they chose their side carefully or to ensure their fiefdoms. On the other hand, they did not hesitate to participate in the royal power as officers: bailiffs, castilians, etc.

Representing who? success and failure of the oligarchic discourses of legitimation in a late medieval Castilian city
María Ángeles Martín (University Complutense of Madrid)
In the fifteenth century most urban oligarchies had developed a discourse of legitimation based on the search of the public good. But, what was the real impact of that rhetoric in the rest of the urban population? In the years previous to the revolt of the Comunidades, the discontent of the commoners at Valladolid was channeled through political requests demanding officers who would really represent the people and look for the public good, which the oligarchy, in their opinion, was not doing anymore. This clash is of great interest to study the implications and functionality of such discourses.

Symbology and representation of power in the crown of Castile. Meaning of the figure of the consort queen in the fifteenth century
Diana Pelaz (University of Valladolid)
The construction of the identity of the Queen consort is a complex process that reveals the key to its subsequent performance and relevance in the setting of monarchical power. In order to understand its importance in the political life of the Crown of Castile, we will analyze the configuration of the image of the Queen consort from three perspectives: How was her image shaped through the education she received? How did she show her position through elements of material culture? And, lastly, how all of this was performed and staged in the various events that took place in the court environment.




International Medieval Congress (Leeds, 2011)

Between the 11th and 14th of July 2011, the annual edition of International Medieval Congress will be held at the University of Leeds (England).  This year it is dedicated to wealth and poverty, and the members of Harca have organized a session on the 12th from 14:15 to 15:45.

Making a Living in the Kingdom of Valencia during the Middle Ages

In 1238 the Sharq al-Andalus was conquered by the troops of James I of Aragon in a general context of feudal expansion. From that, a new kingdom was born, the kingdom of Valencia. Traditionally it has been said that the new communities of settlers founded in the second half of the 13th century were egalitarian and that until some decades after the conquest we cannot detect strong differences amongst their members. However, recent studies show that the process of differentiation started just in the 13th century and even that those egalitarian communities did not ever exist. From the very beginning we can detect not only economical but also political predominance of some families both in urban and rural communities. On the other hand, many families depended on the solidarities of the community. In relation with this, as it happened, an assistance network was consolidated by the mid-14th century through alms-giving, hospitals and hospices. Most of them depended on the community, but mendicant orders had also an important role. Aside from that, rich members of the community did not only give their help to the poor neighbours through these municipal institutions. They also practised an individual charity which reaffirmed their leadership amongst their particular community.
This is a double session; the first one is focused on the charity and the poverty in an urban context. The first paper of this session will analyze the point of view of municipal institutions about the poor in large cities such as Valencia and Barcelona. The second paper will study the differences and the solidarities of artisan groups. The third paper of this session will analyze the role of wealth peasants as guardians of orphans with fewer resources in the transition of the 14th and 15th centuries. The fourth paper is an attempt to establish some general considerations about the luxury and the investment in conspicuous consumption amongst the Valencian peasantry in the 15th century, with special attention to the countryside but also in an urban context.


Poverty in medieval Barcelona and Valencia: the view of the municipal governments during the fifteenth Century
Vicent Baydal
Most of the historiography of the medieval poor has focused on the actions and perspectives of the wealthier members of society: foundation of hospitals and hospices, alms-giving to the poor, establishment of charitable municipal institutions, etc. This paper will not be an exception in this research line, but its sources will provide a more widespread perspective since they are the epistles written by municipal councillors to many kind of rulers, officers, nobles or other persons. So, the patient analysis of thousands of letters from the cities of Barcelona and Valencia in the fifteenth century offers some information about the urban perspectives about poverty, not only about the municipal assistance activities or the elite attitudes toward the poor, but also about their ways of living and their social perception. Beggars, sick, slaves, orphans and bankrupts appear on the documentation and each one of these groups has a particular relation with poverty through the eyes of the urban rulers. Thereby our aim will be to specify the view of the municipal governments of Barcelona and Valencia about poverty during the fifteenth century.

From entrepreneur to employee: Diversity of situations of the artisanship in Valencia (14th-15th Centuries)
Ivan Martínez Araque

The indicators of poverty and wealth in Valencia rural wolrd. Management households in the late Middle Ages
Vicent Royo
The self-sufficiency’s fight and the hard living conditions of rural world made the existence of peasant families in medieval Centuries. However, between 14th and 15th Centuries there is a conflicting process in northern regions of Kingdom of Valencia. The effects caused by failure harvests and the specific outbreaks of Black Death made that more peasant families went into debt and finally, they migrated to the South searching new opportunities. On the other hand, in these rural communities there were merchants, notaries, artisans and peasants all of them richer than their neighbours. They belonged to the emerging rural elite and they take some patterns of consumption and standards of livings which enhanced the differences with the rest of the community. So, although we can establish a light separation between rich and poor in peasant communities, this work tries to point out some indicators, signs and symbols of this frontier. In this sense, the rich of heritage, the interventions in different local and regional markets, the marriage strategies and the attitudes toward the death were some of these indicator. Through the documents of public notaries we can analyse the domestic economies and try to define what is poverty and wealth in Valencian rural world.

Luxury, conspicuous consumption and magnificence amongst the Valencian peasantry in the 15th century
Frederic Aparisi
Only in recent decades historians have paid attention to the differences that can be observed amongst the peasantry. Although all of them were peasants there is no doubt that this social group was intensely stratified. Not only in rural but also in urban context we can find peasant families who held more and better lands than other families. The economical activities of these wealthy families consisted on agrarian activities –farming land and livestock– but not only. Farming taxes from the lordship and municipal taxes and active role in the market of credit were also part of their economies. In this context the presence of luxury objects and a conspicuous consumption do not surprise. The inventories post-mortem testify the investment of wealthier peasants in silver or gold objects, silk and foreign clothes and other articles which were not essential stuff for peasant family. Although these bits and pieces did not result unnecessary their presence amongst objects of wealthier families should not be surprising for historians. On the other hand, we can also find the same objects in inventories post-mortem of peasant families which had not as many economical resources as the wealthier families. Obviously, the number of objects and the quality of them was not as large as in the previous case but, on the contrary of that, their presence results more unpredictable for historians. Unless right from the start, it seems to be a contradiction that a peasant family which had different debts to obtain more cereals conserved silver objects. This paper is an attempt to explore the investment in luxury, conspicuous consumption and magnificence amongst the Valencian peasantry in the 15th century, with especial attention not only to the wealthier families but also the medium families of the community. Furthermore, peasants in an urban context will be also considered, trying to point out the differences and similarities between the consumption of urban peasants and the peasantry in a rural scenario.




Rural History (Sussex, 2010)

Between the 13th and 16th of September 2010, to be held at the University of Sussex, near the city of Brighton (England), the Rural History Congress 2010-An International Conference, in which Harca’s members participate with four papers in the session we have organized. Our session was 13 September, 11 h.

Uses of natural resources in the Kingdom of Valencia in the Middle Ages (13th-15th)

Traditionally, the historiography has analyzed the peasant economy from the perspective of the subsistence and the cereal agriculture. At the same time, it has insisted on the restriction of access to the forest imposed by lords in the Western Europe. All this has generated a monolithic vision of rural society focused on production and consumption of cereals without considering natural resources destined to alimentation and other daily and industrial uses. In spite of that, recently, this conception has been rectified. Studies in all Europe have demonstrated the diversification of the peasant diet and the existence of different uses of natural resources, even the appearance of rural industries.
Therefore, this session expects to analyse the uses of natural resources in the kingdom of Valencia during latter middle ages. On the one hand, the exploitation of meadows, marsh lands and forests became an essential part of economic strategies of peasantry. From/On the other, the extraction of wood and salt generated industrial activities in different Valencian towns and an active market controlled by the king and lords. Finally, the importance of flocks produced a strong transformation of agrarian landscape with the delimitation of grazing areas and the proliferation of routes for seasonal migration of livestock. Thus, the case of the kingdom of Valencia becomes a suitable scene in order to study the uses of natural resources in the Mediterranean area, to analyse the consequences of these uses in the medieval society and to elaborate a first work of all this to be able to establish comparison with other European territories.


  • A. Uses of forest and marsh lands resources in the Valencian Country (13th-15th) – Frederic Aparisi
  • B. Use of Valencian rivers: Jucar and Turia in the Later Middle Ages – Ivan Martínez Araque
  • C. Production, trade and use of the salt in the Kingdom of Valencia in the Middle Ages (13th-15th centuries) – Vicent Baydal and Ferran Esquilache
  • D. The incidence of livestock in the organization of agrarian landscape in the village of Culla in the 15th century – Vicent Royo



15th World Economic History Congress (Utrecht, 2009)

Between the 3rd and the 7th of August 2009, the 15th World Economic History CongressJames Given, from the University of California, Professor Ricard Soto, from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Professor Antoni Mas, from the University of the Balearics Islands, also take part in this workgroup. The sesión took place the 3rd of August 2009 at 1400 in the room Maskeradezaal of the Utrecht University.

Feudal expansion and economic development of European peripheries. (12th -15th centuries)

The development of feudalism in the heart of Europe from 11th century on involved an expansive social process towards its periphery: to the Celtic lands of the European Atlantic coast, to Arab and Berber possessions in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily, not only to the Baltic territories, but also to the Black Sea area, and to Muslim and Byzantine dominions of the Near East and the Sea of Azov. These feudal conquests widened the social, economic and cultural order of Latin Christendom, laying the foundations of the European colonial expansion carried out from 15th century and of the capitalist world-economy that has continued till our days. New ways of agricultural and industrial production, the take-off of urban and commercial growth, the full monetization of economy and the development of fiscal systems related to the feudal states involved capital accumulation processes that established new relations between hegemonic centers and their peripheries.
Thus this session wants to explore comparatively the different economic development processes of European cities and territories through the Late Middle Ages. On the one hand the kingdoms of Portugal and Valencia took advantage of some inputs from feudal expansion that caused Lisbon and Valencia to be the two most populated cities of the Iberian Peninsula at the end of 15th century. On the other hand other lands like Sicily or Sardinia were dominated and exploited in benefit of foreign powers. Peripheral developments, like in the British Isles, Poland or the Baltic region, were also different. That is why papers which insists on some of the aspects of this different territorial evolution will be welcomed, such as, for instance, the take-off of certain regions, the role of merchant groups and feudal states in economic development or the exploitation of dominated lands by feudal expansion..


  • A. Feudal colonists and colonized indigenous. Economy and colonial practices in the Kingdom of Valencia, 13th-14th c. – Vicent Baydal Sala and Ferran Esquilache Martí
  • B. Feudal expansion and colonization of the Balearics in the Thirteenth century – Ricard Soto and Antoni Mas
  • C. Valencian economy during the Later Middle Ages – Frederic Aparisi, Ivan Martínez and Vicent Royo
  • D. Economic and social effects of Italian trade in Tana (Azov), 14th-15th – Sergei P. Karpov
  • E. Tax and serfdom in conquered Societies. Muslim and Greek peasantries under Latin rule in the Medieval Mediterranean, 12th-14th c. – Josep Torró
  • F. Was There “Colonialism” in Medieval Europe? – James Given




12th Annual Mediterranean Studies Congress (Cagliari, 2009)

Between the 27th and the 30th of May 2009, the 12th Annual Mediterranean Studies Congress take place in the city of Cagliari, on the isle of Sardinia. It is organized by the Mediterranean Studies Association, in which the members of Harca take part with the following three papers. The sessionPapers:

Feudal Colonisation in the Kingdom of Valencia (13th-14th centuries)
Vicent Baydal and Ferran Esquilache

The conditions of conquest and the application of some specific strategies of colonisation of the territory that formed the Christian Kingdom of Valencia determined many aspects of the society that developed within her boundaries. In any case, these were strategies shared with many other European domains by the feudal colonisers: the substitution of the autochthonous population for new colonisers; the concentration of population in a network of cities, castles and population cores with urban functions or the extension of an agricultural feudal regime, based on the pension paid by little family exploitations of cereal and grapevine. Therefore, this paper will be aimed to show how this or other common characteristics of the European feudal expansion can be observed in the colonising process of the Kingdom of Valencia during the 13th century and the early 14th century.

The Feudal System Expansion in the Valencian Case. (14th-15th centuries)
Frederic Aparisi, Ivan Matínez Araque and Vicent Royo

Stemming from the colonisation and the introduction of a feudal system in the newly-formed Kingdom of Valencia, a dense network of merchant villas was developed, whether they were crown or gentry-owned. These became the centres of regional interchange when the surplus land was gathered and a bundle of manufacturing activities and services appeared, in addition to a headquarters being built for the local powers. Throughout the 14th century, the constant colonial immigration, as well as the rise of the agricultural sector and the productive activities, both contributed to the articulation of the regional market that used the capital of the country, Valencia, as its main link. During the second half of this century and at the mercy of the development of the abovementioned factors, the transformation of the European economy and the intensification of the commercial networks made the city of Valencia an important secondary harbour on the west Mediterranean route towards the Atlantic, which prompted the articulation of new scenarios: the Valencian Country would therefore outstand as an important area exportator of source materials (wool in the North), specialised and marketable crops (such as sugar and white mulberry during the 15th century) or in the growth of the woollen cloths activity (one of its highlighted destinations was the Kingdom of Naples) or the birth of the Valencian silk.

The Formation of a Feudal Space in the West: the Valencian Country (13th-15th century)
Vicent Baydal

The conquest of a Muslim territory, its Christian colonization and the formation of a whole new feudal reign –progressively integrated in the western society– represents a good starting point when approaching to the reflection on the Europeanisation of most of the northern seashore of the Mediterranean sea during the High Middle-Ages. In fact, while territories such as Sicily or Valencia, which were conquered between the 12th and 13th centuries, integrated into the European society completely, other occupied territories during the same era, such as the Crusader states of the Holy Land, lost their western lands and never were Europeanised socially. The conceptualism of the said cases within the parameters of what has been called "medieval collonialism" provides interesting insights into the question that will be exposed in this paper.