Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

La Concessió de la llibertat a un esclau jueu (1450)

Josep Maria Llobet i Portella


Despite the numerous references to slaves that we have found in the notarial
documents of 14th-15th century Cervera, only one slave is identified as a Jew.
This information is contained in two documents dating from 1450. The first is
the signed acknowledgement of a debt, dated 26th July, 1450, according to
which Gentou Camiç states that he owes Guillem Marc, of Valmoll, one hundred
florins, the sum agreed for the freeing of a Jewish slave by the name of
Abraham Abenalbac, property of the said Guillem Marc. Payment of the 100
florins was to be made in September of that year, subject to the following conditions:
if the slave died before payment was made, Gentou Camiç would only
pay the slaves owner the sum resulting from donations made by the aljamas, or
Jewish communities. In the event of Gentou Camiçs death, his heirs would
likewise pay only that sum collected by the deceased in the form of donations.
We therefore deduce that Gentou Camiç had taken responsibility for the Jewish
slave so that he or the slave himself might request financial assistance from
those Jewish communities that thought fit, in order to raise the sum that had
been fixed on the slaves freedom.
The same document includes an amendment dated 3rd November, 1450, to
the effect that Guillem Marc had cancelled the debt as a result of a new document.
In fact, on that very day a text had been drawn up granting Abraham
Abenalbac his freedom in exchange for seventy florins. Abraham Abenalbac
came from the North African town of Fez, which had a sizeable and ancient Jewish community, and had been bought from Dionís Aimeric, a resident of
Cervera. We also know that it was Abenalbac who had obtained the seventy
florins from the Jewish communities of Catalonia and Aragon. In this case, the
evident solidarity among the Jews of the kingdom of Catalonia-Aragon enabled
one of their brethren, notwithstanding his North-African origins, to gather together
the considerable sum of seventy florins necessary to buy his freedom.
The article contains a transcript of the two Latin documents in question.

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