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Medieval Sourcebook:
A Business Partnership between a Jew and Christian in Barcelona, 1235-1242 CE

Many Barcelonese Jews and Christians did business together in a variety of ways: as clients, as agents or as partners. The majority of these business arrangements were routine and uneventful. Occasionally, however, as in business deals between Jews or between Christians, the partners ended up in court. These two documents reflect one such occurrence.

1. The original agreement (1235 May 21):

Agreement between the Christian and Jewish partners about shares in the revenues from the mills of Barcelona. Two copies were made of this document, one for each partner; of the two, only one, probably that of the Christian Berenguer, survives:

 I, Berenguer Bailiff, concede to you, Solomon b. Saltell and yours, that you have a quarter share of that purchase of the mills of Barcelona which Guillem Ferre and I made last Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross [May 3, 1235] for a period of two years; I promise to give you the share which you are owed of whatever profit God will give those mills in those two years, up to one quarter. And if there should be no profit, and we have expenses, you shall pay your share up to that same quarter share. And I offer all my property as security for it.

 To this, I Solomon d'en Saltell, agree and firmly promise you, Berenguer bailiff and yours, to accomplish and fulfill in good faith that which is incumbent on me on account of that quarter share. And for this I give you as guarantor my brother Astrug Saltell, who with me or without me will uphold all of these [obligations] towards you and yours. We, the aforementioned Solomon d'en Saltell and Astrug Saltell, agree and firmly promise you and yours that either or both of us will accomplish and fulfill all of the above with all our possessions which we may have or shall acquire.

This was enacted 12 Kalends of June, A.D. 1235.
Signed: Berenguer Bailiff who confirms and validates.
[In Hebrew: Solomon confirms. Astrug, guarantor. Joseph, witness].
The signatures of two Christian witnesses, and the notary, Pere Carbonell, follow.

(Source: Arxiu Capitular de Barcelona 1-6-483)

 2. The lawsuit (1242 September 1):

Case brought by the Jew Vidal Bonafos, on behalf of Solomon b. Saltell, against the heirs of Solomon's former partner over milling revenues.

 A case arose between Vidal Bonafos, acting for Solomon Saltell, on one part, and Berenguer de Valle and Joan de Banyeres, and Maria and Guillema their wives, the defendants on the other part as follows: Vidal Bonafos acting for Solomon b. Saltell sued Berenguer de Valle and Maria his wife, and Joan de Banyeres and Guillema his wife. He alleged that Berenguer Bailiff had recognized in the charter he wrote Solomon that Solomon had a quarter share in the purchase of two years of [revenues of the] mills of Barcelona which he [Berenguer] made with Guillem Ferre, and that he had promised him, with his property as security, that he would give him his quarter share of the profit which those mills should earn in those two years, which [mills] Berenguer Bailiff returned to [the royal agent] Ramon de Plegamans, after holding them for one year. Considering that in the second year the profit could well have been 4000 solidi had he not returned them, since the said Berenguer de Valle and Joan de Banyeres hold and have the possessions of the said Berenguer Bailiff, and the said Maria and Guillema are the daughters and heirs of the said Berenguer Bailiff and the said Solomon has had nothing of the said profit, he demanded that the said Berenguer de Valle and Joan de Banyeres be ordered to give Solomon and his agent the quarter share of the profit which he estimates at 500 solidi of Barcelona.

 To which the said Berenguer de Valle and Joan de Banyeres responded on their own behalf and for their wives for whom they were acting. They admitted that in the year 1235, Guillem Ferre and Berenguer Bailiff bought the mills from Ramon de Plegamans for two years, and that Berenguer Bailiff took Solomon d'en Saltell as a partner with a half of his own half share, and promised to give him a corresponding share in the profit as is stated in the document of recognition which Berenguer Bailiff made for Solomon. But, they said that they accounted for the first year in which nothing was earned -- on the contrary they lost in that year about 2000 solidi. Because of the stated loss which they suffered in that year, Guillem Ferre and Berenguer Bailiff no longer wished to hold the mills for the second year, and at their petition which they made to Ramon de Plegamans, the said Ramon de Plegamans took back the said mills and sold them to certain others . . . for the second year, which mills the said Guillem Ferre and Berenguer Bailiff gave up in the presence of the said Solomon and with his knowledge, and without his objection. They thus say that they owe Solomon nothing for the second year, for they did not hold them, nor for the first year, for they earned nothing from them; on the contrary, they lost 2000 solidi as is stated above, and they deny everything else written against them in the list of charges. Accordingly, the said agents [for Maria and Guillema] demand from Solomon d'en Saltell that he return to the said ladies, the heirs of their father [i.e. Berenguer Bailiff], the part belonging to him in the aforesaid, namely 500 solidi.

 Over all of these issues and over the arguments made by both parties after the claims were made, we Guillem Ponç and Gerald de Marnia, jointly accepted arbitrators, having examined the proofs as they appear in the acts which were received, and having looked at Solomon's bill of sale made by Berenguer Bailiff for the quarter share of the mills, and the notes in the relevant notebook of the notary Pere Carbonell which Berenguer Bailiff made for Ramon de Plegamans of the mills and another note of the purchase which Arnau D'Arlet made from Ramon for one year, . . . having made a valid and accurate calculation of the profit of the said mills, [and having judged how much] Solomon lost from the profit which Arnau D'Arlet and his partner made in the said mills through the fault of Berenguer Bailiff, we sentence the said Berenguer de Valle and Joan de Banyeres and their wives to give Solomon and his agent 10 pounds 5 solidi which it seems to us according to the evidence that Solomon is owed from the profit for that year through the fault of Berenguer Bailiff, absolving both sides of all other claims. This sentence was given on the Kalends of September, A.D. 1242.

 (Source: Arxiu Capitular de Barcelona 1-6-3475)

 Texts translated by Elka Klein.


Arxiu Capitular de Barcelona 1-6-3475)

©Texts translated here by Elka Klein.

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.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1999
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