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Medieval Sourcebook:
Port of Arles: The Navigation Code, 1150

The river port of Arles had a flourishing commerce in the twelfth century and developed a number of customs affecting seagoing trade.

C.105. Concerning fishermen near the river: Also we decree that any fisherman who lives near the river for the sake of fishing shall be expected to swear once a year in the court at Arles, that he will help any vessel belonging to a man of Arles which shall go out or come in to the river if it be exposed to danger. And if it should happen that the vessel or vessels suffer wreck, which God forbid, he shall likewise be expected to save the vessel and its cargo, and for every pound they save they shall have twelve denarii and they shall take only two solidi for their labor from foreigners.


C.122. What customs and ancient tolls are written in the book of the Commune: Also we decree that the mayors of Arles shall be expected to make a return or to have written in the book of the commune by a public notary of Arles all the customs and ancient tolls which have customarily been received at the bank of the river Rhone at Arles, so that everything may be learned and known; and we decree that the mayors of Arles or their court shall be expected to make inquiry as to the truth about the tolls and customs through charters and suitable witnesses, according to due forms of law.


C.133. Concerning laden ships: Also we decree that if a laden ship should come up the Rhone and should wish to moor at any wharf on the river bank of Arles, then the men of that ship may remove on their own authority, and moor elsewhere, without contradiction, any empty ship which may be without a cargo at any wharf on the river bank at Arles, and may moor their laden ship in the harbor in the place of the ship without the cargo; and that any one may draw water on empty ships without any molestation from him whose ship it is; and whoever prohibits this shall be fined two solidi of which the city takes half and the accuser half. Under the appellation "ships" we wish the word "vessel" to be included.


C.l40. Concerning ships which go on voyages: Also we decree that the mayors of Arles shall be expected to exact and to take from those who have a ship or ships in Arles or its district, for the purpose of taking travellers beyond the sea, faithful and suitable men or suitable pledges, that the master of the ship or ships will transport the travellers or cause them to be transported just as the master of the ship agreed with those travellers in good faith, and this shall be done for every ship; and that the mariners of those ships shall carry the travellers and faithfully look after their goods; and for every ship they shall show or cause to be shown one cross-bow made from the best cornel wood from the lathes of Arles on the return of the ship. But if the ship or ships do not return in the customary way, the mayors shall take from the bondsmen or pledges as much as will buy one cross-bow made from the best cornel wood from the lathes of Arles. And we decree that no master

of a ship or other person for him may have, nor ought to have, a bench in Arles nor should he place one there or in the district; and as far as this statute is concerned we understand the district of Arles to be everything from Arles to the port of Bouc and including that port; and if a citizen of Arles shall have a ship or ships ready to transport or carry travellers he shall have precedence over foreigners in loading his ship with travellers in Arles or in the district of Arles, and no merchant may take any traveller for his victuals.


C.144. Concerning Vessels: Also we decree that, if any vessel be in the river and be moored to a post or stay at Le Gras on account of a contrary wind, the mates of those vessels shall be expected to send their small boats with mariners to help any vessel which may wish to enter the river. And whatever mariners are unwilling to go at the command of the mates shall be fined twenty solidi for each offense; and we decree that this shall be the law for all sea ports within the territory of Arles.


From: M. Gustave Fagniez, ed., Documents Relatifs à l'Histoire de l'Industrie et du Commerce en France, (Brussels: A. Picard et Fils, 1898), Vol. I, pp. 75-77, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 153-155.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, September 1998
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