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«The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World edited by Angeliki E. Laiou and Roy Parviz Mottahedeh published by Dumbarton Oaks ...»

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What content we should give to these statements is another story. In some cases, for example, Alexios’ gratis provisioning of the poor at Nicaea, it is probable that imperial stores were implicated. When it is a matter of markets, panegyreis, mercatum, fora, we have to imagine one-time markets, for the most part situated in towns along the way, which See, for example, the story about the inhabitants of cities carrying out their transactions with the Crusaders by means of ropes thrown down from the walls: Odo of Deuil, 40; Choniates, ed. van Dieten, 66. A further and amazing corroboration: According to both Odo of Deuil (76, 82) and Ansbert (Historia de expeditione Friderici, ed. A. Chroust, MGH, ScriptRerGerm, n.s., 5 [Berlin, 1928], 65), Manuel and Isaac II respectively agreed that if the army was not able to buy provisions, it had the right to plunder, though not to occupy the territory in question—or, in the case of Frederick I, not to give it to the Turks. This underlines the problems posed by provisioning at politically difficult times: Roger of Sicily was attacking Greece at the time of the Second Crusade.

Choniates, ed. van Dieten, 402.

Ansbert, 15–16, 29, 33, 48.

Ansbert, 25, 26, 37, 39, 44, 59, 66, 71, 73. On the Turks, see Choniates, ed. van Dieten, 412; Ansbert, 69.

Cf. Choniates, ed. van Dieten, 402–3, for the Third Crusade.

William of Tyre, 2.12 (1:176); cf. 1.18.54 (1:142), 1.19.12 (1:143); 2.14.15 (1:179).

Albert of Aix, 559.

[ 166 ] Byzantine Trade in any case would have known the institution of the periodic market or fair. The imperial orders would have been to agree to sell to the Crusaders, a somewhat frightening proposition considering the vast numbers of people going through. Imperial officials would do their best to persuade the inhabitants to sell commodities: this was the role given to the pansebastos Eustathios Philokales, who was to accompany the army of Frederick I as far as Philadelphia, for exactly that purpose.51 What the Crusaders “sold” would have been jewels, silver plate, their arms and horses in times of dire need, and money.52 There was, undoubtedly, a combination of factors that created a market. Despite the fact that the emperor issued orders regarding provisioning, generally speaking the markets were not, I think, state controlled, but were, rather, composed of producers (both landlords and peasants) and merchants.53 In other words, as far as we can see, food was not requisitioned by the Byzantine state, nor were imperial or military stores opened.

Occasional references allow us a glimpse at the various groups of people who sold food to the Crusaders. Fulcher of Chartres mentions “citizens” of Constantinople, who, by order of the emperor, brought food to sell outside the walls of the city.54 These were, presumably, merchants. In Attaleia, during the Second Crusade, the food supply depended entirely on maritime trade, for the surrounding territory was in Turkish hands.

The grain must have been brought in by merchants.55 Direct sale by producers may be deduced from other texts. William of Tyre ascribes the absence of markets at Nish, during the First Crusade, partly to the actions of the Byzantine governor and partly to the fact that the peasants had fled.56 As the army crossed Macedonia, its escort told the “inhabitants of the land” to bring provisions, the Crusaders not being allowed to enter the cities.57 These “inhabitants” could be either merchants or direct producers. When Bohemond reached Nicaea, he ordered “maximum mercatum conduci per mare, et pariter utrinque veniebant, ille per terram et ille per mare, et fuit maxima ubertas in tota Christi militia.”58 Since 50,000 to 60,000 people had to be fed, the sellers can hardly have been peasants: they must have been either merchants or landlords.

Food seems to have been concentrated mostly in cities and towns; the process would have been something like the one that brought to Halmyros, along a west-east axis, Greeks with grain to sell, as reported by Edrisi, writing at approximately the time of the Second Crusade.59 Prices seem to have been formed on the ground, although the Crusaders clearly expected state control of both prices and weights and measures. An indication of this, at a Ansbert, 65.

Cf. below, 167–68, and Odo of Deuil, 75.

See Kinnamos (Bonn ed.), 2.13, pp. 70–71: the Germans apply unjust force “on those offering them food ´ `“ for sale in the market,” in the plains that come after Dacia, i.e., in Bulgaria: toi'" te kat∆ ejmporian ta wnia ´ ´ “ sfisin ajpodidou'si cei'ra ejpebalon adikon.

Fulcher of Chartres, Historia Hierosolymitana (1095–1127), ed. H. Hagenmayer (Heidelberg, 1913), 331.

Odo of Deuil, 129; William of Tyre, 16.26 (2:753).

William of Tyre, 1.19.26–36 (1:143) (army of Walter Sans-Avoir).

Gesta Francorum 10.

Gesta Francorum 14.

´ P. A. Jaubert, La geographie d’Edrisi, 2 vols. (Paris, 1840), 2:291, 196.

Angeliki E. Laiou [ 167 ] later period to be sure, is offered by the reports of the final accord between Isaac II and Frederick I (the Treaty of Adrianople, February 1190)—namely, that the emperor was obliged to ensure that there would be “good” (i.e., fair) markets (bona mercata), selling at a just price (iusto pretio), which here seems to be understood as the price that the emperor would have had to pay if he were buying the food.60 An anonymous letter says that the sale should be at half the price the Crusaders were paying until then.61 So one job of the imperial officials would have been to guarantee fair prices and stop speculative sales at famine prices. Such, at least, seems to have been the case in 1190, and William of Tyre’s narrative suggests that it was also the case during the First Crusade; but this historian’s insistence on “just prices” may well be anachronistic. Indeed, the great fluctuation in food prices because of scarcity, or because the armies were so large, suggests that fair prices, even if promised, were not delivered.62 Choniates wrote scathingly about the inhabitants of cities who did not provide adequate markets and seized the opportunity to sell at extravagant prices. They closed their gates, he says, and threw down ropes, to collect the money of the Crusaders and then send down whatever victuals they saw fit— while the worst of them simply took the money and gave nothing in return. They used unjust weights and measures and even tampered with the quality of the food.63 Finally, during the Third Crusade also, the inhabitants of some cities, such as Philippopolis, refused to sell to the Crusaders.64 All this shows the limits of imperial control of the situation.





There was an interplay, then, of free-market forces and imperial orders; this was free exchange in which the state was expected to intervene and did intervene to a limited extent. There was some pressure toward increased state control, but it was not very successful.

Freedom for foreigners to buy and sell within the frontiers of the empire was a specific privilege. It was originally granted to the Venetians and was then extended to Crusaders;

there are, therefore, formal connections between commercial institutions and the provisioning of the crusading armies. Also, the distribution mechanisms must have been inuenced by the problems of provisioning. However, the acute and episodic nature of arrangements for the provisioning of the armies in all probability did not have longlasting effects on the Byzantine economy. Rather, these arrangements are inscribed in the larger framework of developing commercial mechanisms.

It may be otherwise with questions regarding currency exchange. It must first be stressed that provisioning and currency exchange were closely connected. Even when

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sources such as William of Tyre refer to the buying and “selling” by the members of the First Crusade, they may actually be referring to the “sale” of coins, that is, to exchange transactions. It should also be noted that Crusader sources normally quote prices in Western coins, which again raises the problem of currency transactions.

B. Currency Exchange During the First Crusade, through 1101, not a word is spoken about the problem of currency exchange. The Crusaders brought with them a multiplicity of coins (Raymond of Aguilers mentions seven types, but we know there were many more)—all billon deniers of different intrinsic values (some quite good silver)—and marks of silver. The idea floated by M. Matzke, that perhaps they took a limited and deliberately chosen type of coin does not seem plausible.65 Some of the great barons, like Godfrey of Bouillon, brought with them considerable quantities of marks of silver. How did the Crusaders fend for themselves, once they had reached the frontiers of the Byzantine Empire?

While the sources of the First Crusade remain mute on the problem of currency exchange, it must have been posed brutally by reality. The problem of “markets” and high prices, omnipresent in the sources, undoubtedly but tacitly includes that of exchange—not only a fair exchange, but, to start with, exchange itself. Who, in the towns along the way, would have been willing to change the Western deniers against Byzantine coins, and at what equivalence? If there was no exchange, how many people would have been willing to accept this unlikely money in payment and, again, at what value? Ingots of silver may have been easier for the locals to accept. While marks of silver were too valuable for small-scale transactions, smaller ingots (not attested in our sources, but possible) may have been used. In this case, one must assume that the Byzantine money changer or merchant would have had the opportunity to give an exchange rate lower than the intrinsic value of the ingot.

The exiguous number of coins datable to the First Crusade that has been found in the Balkans,66 Asia Minor, and Syria-Palestine could be interpreted in a number of ways: as evidence that the Crusaders did not so much purchase their food as live off the land, which contradicts the rest of the evidence, at least for the Balkans or, more plausibly, as M. Matzke, “Die sieben Kreuzfahrermunzen und das Papsttum,” SM 44 (1994): 13–19, mentioned in ¨ D. M. Metcalf, Coinage of the Crusades and the Latin East in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2d ed. (London, 1995), 13–14. As Metcalf says, this proposition depends on the accuracy and completeness of Raymond of ` Aguilers’ list of coins, which is doubtful. Godfrey of Bouillon got from the bishop of Liege 1,300 or 1,500 marks of silver: History of the Crusades, 1.267. At Antioch, Tancred asked for and was promised 400 marks of silver for guarding a castle: Gesta Francorum 43. The list of coins appears in Raymond of Aguilers, ed. Hill, 111–12.

The only significant find in terms of numbers is a hoard of 83 coins in Constantinople possibly associated with the First Crusade: Metcalf, Coinage of the Crusades, 6. A. M. Stahl (“The Circulation of European Coinage in the Crusader States,” in V. Goss, ed., The Meeting of Two Worlds: Cultural Exchange between East and West during the Period of the Crusades, Studies in Medieval Culture 21 [Kalamazoo, Mich., 1986], 85–102, at 86) mentions the hoard of 1,600 coins found in 1884 in Zombor, Croatia, as belonging to the First Crusade, but the hoard has been dated to the Second Crusade. Another 3,000 coins found in Hungary may be datable to the Second Crusade. A very large hoard of 7,700 coins and ingots (with, unfortunately, an unknown find-spot) has been associated with a member of Frederick Barbarossa’s army during the Third Crusade: see Metcalf, Coinage of the Crusades, 7–10.

Angeliki E. Laiou [ 169 ] an indication that the Crusaders’ coins were routinely and quickly melted down by the Byzantines, perhaps to be reminted; if so, there must have been some sort of government service that bought the coins from the citizens.67 Similarly, the fact that coins were minted very soon after the conquest of Syria and Palestine suggests that Western coins were not originally well received in the East.68 After 1140, the Crusader states began to mint silver pennies. Before and after, there was a heavy flow of silver to the East.69 Once the members of the First Crusade reached Constantinople, their money supply began to become replenished through imperial gifts of cash, and the problem of exchange was eased to some extent, though only partially. Large gifts of gold and silver on

the part of Alexios to the Crusader leaders put Byzantine money into circulation:

Fulcher of Chartres reports that after the Crusader leaders had taken the oath of fealty, Alexios gave them “de numismatibus suis,” clearly coined gold and perhaps silver.70 Anna Komnene speaks of huge gifts to Bohemond, including gold and silver coins.71 There were also gifts of smaller coins. After the fall of Nicaea, the emperor distributed to the leaders gold, silver (“de auro suo et argento”),72 as well as other precious things, both from the spoils and from his treasury. The rank and file—the foot soldiers—received distributions “de sumis suis aeneis quos vocant tartarones.”73 The tetarteron in question here is Alexios’ tetarteron, made first of lead, then of billon, then of copper.74 Smallscale transactions, at a time when markets were pretty well established outside Nicaea, were made possible with these coins. In 1101 Alexios distributed boatloads of tetartera, according to Orderic Vitalis.75 When the Crusaders began to be victorious over the Muslims, gold came their way;

some undoubtedly was minted gold, as we know for the case when the governors of the towns of Syria and Palestine offered the Crusaders tribute—or gifts with which they bought immunity—not to mention the ghoulish recovery of bezants from the inside of the corpses of slain Turks.76 It is telling that the leaders, when they were in Syria and Palestine, still had substantial sums of money, in marks of silver, even after the long trip.77 Only two rates of exchange are mentioned in the sources of the First Crusade, and Metcalf, Coinage of the Crusades, 3–11, gives a list of the coins that belong to the first three crusades.

The princes of Antioch and the counts of Edessa seem to have struck almost immediately copper coins imitating the Byzantine follis of the late 11th century. See Metcalf, Coinage of the Crusades, 22–23, 31 ff.

Stahl estimates a total of ca. 1 million kg of silver 1,000 tons throughout the crusading period: “Circulation of European Coinage,” 97.



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