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Medieval Sourcebook:
James I of Aragon:
The Barcelona Navigation Act of 1227

Barcelona, during the Middle Ages, was one of the leading ports of the Mediterranean. It tried to establish a virtual monopoly of its own carrying trade and, to that end, preference was given to Barcelona shippers by King James.

Be it known to all that I, James, by the grace of God, King of Aragon, Count of Barcelona and Lord of Montpellier, am mindful of the fidelity and services which our faithful citizens of Barcelona have always shown, and do show now, to us and our predecessors.

Wishing to increase your wealth by the benefits we confer on you, we have granted this special favor by our present charter to you and your successors in the city of Barcelona, namely, that any ship or vessel coming from beyond the seas, from Alexandria, or from Egypt, or proposing to go to those places from Barcelona, shall not take any merchandise or goods or cargo, nor carry them, nor bring them to those parts, while any native ship of Barcelona can, or wishes to, carry the said load or merchandise or to take it to those parts. And if any one thinks of sending his goods or merchandise to those parts let him send them in a ship or vessel of Barcelona and let him not dare to send them on a foreign ship or vessel while a ship or vessel of Barcelona is there ready to take his goods or merchandise. And we grant and concede to you, the citizens of Barcelona, that no foreign ship or other vessel, or ship from Sardinia and South Italy, shall dare to take wine at any of your quays, or buy it to take it to foreign parts, except with your permission and assent. And we have firmly ordered that the mayor, our bailiff, the honest men of Barcelona, all other mayors, bailiffs, nobles of Catalonia, officials, all our servants both now and in the future, and all those who wish to send merchandise, or to load it on ships or vessels, shall faithfully observe and cause to be observed all the privileges granted in our charter. And let no one dare to go contrary to this decree; if any do so, let them know that they will incur our anger and indignation and will pay a penalty of a thousand gold pieces.

Witnesses, etc.


From: A. de Capmany, ed., Memorias Sobre la Marina, Comercio, y Artes de la Antigua Ciudad de Barcelona, (Madrid, 1779-1792), Vol. II, p. 11; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 156-157.

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, October 1998
[email protected]


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