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Arab Peace Treaty (1362)

Jaime II, King of Aragon Pulse para ampliar
Muslim fighters Pulse para ampliar

Geopolitical history

The different Iberian kingdoms’ interest in North Africa dates back to the 13th century. Contrary to what one may think, this responded to the commercial desires of those kingdoms and the competition for dominance of the Mediterranean with the rival Italian cities, who disputed commercial and political supremacy in the West with Aragón above all. In this context, the kings of Aragon and Castile, Jaime II and Sancho IV, signed an agreement to share the areas of influence on the North coast on the other side of the Strait, with the border on the Moulouya River, east of Nador. Both needed stability; for Jaime it was to face the conquest of Sicily, and Sancho for the appeasement of his own kingdom after the dynastic disputes that followed the death of his father, Alfonso X.

In the 14th century, the peninsular people started to put pressure on the Maghreb, related to the strong commercial flows. This came as much from the Castilians as from Catalan, Valencian and Mallorcan merchants. It was also related to the increase in trade, privateering and piracy, in which Castilian sailors were especially active. The intensity of commercial traffic also brought with it the intensity of human relations, aided by the existence of an important Mudejar population in the Christian kingdoms, which often emigrated to the Maghreb.

Arab Peace Treaty (1362) Pulse para ampliar

The document

There are many treaties signed during the 14th century between the peninsular kings and the Maghreb sultans. Around 1359 or 1360, the Maghreb also became a territory in which internal struggles for power facilitated the intervention and influence of foreign powers. These powers, especially in the case of the Aragonese, obtained the signature of beneficial commercial treaties, protecting the presence of merchants of the Aragonese Crown on the coasts of North Africa and its main cities (Ceuta, Cazaza, Honaine, Oran, Mostaganem, Algiers, Béjaïa, and Tunis, among others).

The peace treaty that we are presenting was signed in 1362 between Peter IV the Ceremonious, king of Aragon, and the sultan of Morocco. In it, both agreed not to attack each other's subjects for five years. They agreed that in the event of an attack, they would free the captives, punish those responsible and compensate for the damage caused. They also regulated commercial taxes that had to be paid, protected merchants, and protected ships in case of shipwreck.

Arabic sources in the ACA

The Archive of the Crown of Aragon preserves a collection of 182 original Arabic documents, the vast majority of which were sent to the kings of Aragon by the kings and high officials of the Muslim countries of the Mediterranean during the 14th century. Approximately half of these documents come from the kingdom of Granada, with the other half distributed between Morocco (32), Tunisia (30), Tlemcen (10), and Egypt (11). The vast majority date from the first sixty years of the 14th century, although there are two exceptional bilingual treaties from the 13th century involving the Muslims from the kingdom of Valencia. The latest document is an extensive treaty with Egypt, from 1430. Medieval translations of eighty other Arabic documents from the same period have also been preserved, the originals of which have been lost. Finally, it is worth highlighting the close relationship that this collection has with other documents in the archive, especially with the registers of the Chancery, which contain the responses of the kings of Aragon to these letters. These help us to understand and contextualize this collection.