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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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In sum, the Crusades (always speaking of the first three major movements) had a number of influences on the Byzantine terms of trade with Westerners. Sometimes the connection is obvious: thus the first Pisan commercial privileges incorporate a clause that anyone who travels on Pisan ships to Jerusalem “against the pagans” will suffer no impediment in terms of passage, or of dapanai (stipendia in the Latin text), which is not really the equivalent of mercatus, although it does refer to provisions, or in terms of their military equipment.114 This guarantee of safe-conduct applied only to those Crusaders who would swear an oath to the Pisan ship captain not to harm the Byzantine Empire— hence R.-J. Lilie’s correct interpretation that those who did not swear not to harm the Byzantine Empire would not be guaranteed safe passage, and thus that there was a partial Byzantine boycott of the transport of Crusaders. These provisions bear considerable substantive similarity to the terms on which Bohemond had been allowed to recruit soldiers from Western Europe to Antioch, terms included in the Treaty of Devol, three years earlier.115 The connection between the two events is real at the political level. Since 1099 Alexios had been in conflict with Pisan and Genoese ships sailing to the Holy Land, absolutely parallel to the skirmishes and sometimes overt hostilities that took place with the passage of Crusader armies over land.116 After Bohemond went west to raise troops for an antiByzantine crusade, Alexios tried to include the Pisans (as well as the Genoese and the Venetians) in his system of defense against Bohemond; the Pisans had engaged in hostile piratical action in the wake of the war with Bohemond (in 1111).117 There is also a diplomatic connection, or a formal, institutional connection, since similar provisions found their way into commercial privileges very early indeed, and in treaties with the Crusaders (and Bohemond), almost from the beginning.

Such connections, however, I have not discussed, preferring instead to concentrate on other issues. Sometimes the crusading arrangements and those with Italian city-states were based on different principles: a combination of statism and free trade in the case of some arrangements with the Crusaders regarding markets and exchange rates, versus the free trade agreements that characterized, to a significant extent, the commercial privileges, and that created a market response to currency exchange rates in Constantinople.

Sometimes the two form part of a developing global pattern, as was the case with repara

–  –  –

tions and reprisal arrangements. Thus there were new ways of dealing with the Westerners in commercial matters; and this went in tandem with dealings with the Crusaders, one set of arrangements reinforcing the other.

Similarly, the bilateral agreements, confirmed by oaths, which we see most clearly in the Treaty of Adrianople, are a part of an evolving pattern of relationships with Western powers, primarily the crusading sovereigns and the maritime cities of Italy. Here, too, the Crusades are inscribed in a larger pattern of evolution, which includes the first bilateral state agreements (with Venice in 1186–87, with Pisa in the treaty of 1192, and with Genoa in 1155).118 Scholars have pointed out that the chrysobull issued by Isaac II in February 1187 differs in form from earlier privileges, for it is clearly bilateral, incorporating, on the one hand, the obligations of the Venetians, and on the other hand, and in exchange, the concessions given by the Byzantine emperor.119 This document preserves the traditional form in one important way: that the Venetians swear by oath to keep their promises, whereas the emperor’s word is his chrysobull. The Treaty of Adrianople, on the other hand, is a bilateral convention in this also: that both parties swear an oath through their representatives and an exchange of presents, bilateral in Choniates,120 unilateral in Ansbert.121 Of constitutional significance for Byzantium, this conjunction of bilateral arrangements also suggests a pattern of international agreements between states, whether crusading or mercantile, agreements that undoubtedly reinforced each other.

II. “International” Commercial Institutions

In political terms, we can detect in the Byzantine Empire a certain dissolution of native institutions regarding aspects of trade and the exercise of the merchant’s profession. These then reappear in more general, Mediterranean, forms. In the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, one may see the elaboration of similar general provisions and institutions throughout the eastern Mediterranean, in the trade relations between Byzantines, other Christians, and Muslims.122 In some instances, the first stages of Lilie, Handel und Politik, 82.

M. Pozza and G. Ravegnani, eds., I trattati con Bisanzio, 992–1198, Pacta veneta (Venice, 1993), p. 80, and doc. 8, pp. 90 ff.

Ed. van Dieten, 411.

Ansbert, 64, 66; Choniates (ed. van Dieten, 411) says the “emperor and the king renewed their oaths”;

Frederick’s magnates gave the oath, and Isaac gave hostages. He then moves into the discussion of the oath taken in Constantinople.

S. D. Goitein (“Mediterranean Trade in the Eleventh Century: Some Facts and Problems,” in Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East, ed. M. A. Cook [London, 1970], 51–62) has argued that already in the 11th century, and before the Crusades, the “Mediterranean area gave the impression of a free-trade area.” Here I argue that the Crusades and the Crusader states were instrumental in the development and spread of institutions that facilitated Mediterranean trade. Many important topics, for example, the institutional impact of Western trading stations in Egypt on the development of Italian trading colonies in Constantinople, are necessarily left out of this discussion. I also do not discuss the Amalfitan and Venetian trading stations in Constantinople.





These predate the crusading period, but neither their existence nor their evolution is critical to the topics elaborated below.

[ 180 ] Byzantine Trade development took place in the Byzantine Empire; in other cases in the Crusader states;

in all cases the Crusader states played a pivotal role in this development.

In general terms, it may be argued that states give up some prerogatives in the general trend toward the free and safe movement of men and merchandise—as was also the case with the freedom from, or the reduction of, the commercium. This is a very rich topic, with many aspects to it. I should like to examine one example only: the law of salvage, which is connected with the law of reprisals and seems to be developing together with laws regarding the disposition of the goods of merchants dying in a host country. The first two have to do not only with the normal risks run by merchants who carried out their business at the mercy of the elements, but also with piracy, increasingly a problem in the Mediterranean in the twelfth century and after.123 I will not deal with the evolving laws on reprisals here.

Salvage In the case of salvage, one must begin with the Byzantine law, which derived from but became stricter than the Roman (i.e., Justinianic) law of salvage. There are two aspects to the question: who has the right to salvaged goods, and what penalties there are for those who pilfer them. As to the first point, Justinianic law, repeated in the Basilics, is quite clear: the goods belong to their owner; there is no time limitation on his rights;

and what he can salvage he may keep.124 The Rhodian Sea Law adds some practical provisions that give a reward to those who help salvage the ship or the goods it carries, presumably in an effort to avoid looting: the people who help salvage a ship or parts of a ship are entitled to 1/5 of its value; if they find goods on land and return them, they get 1/10 of the value; and if they dive to salvage gold or silver or anything else, they are entitled to 1/3 or 1/2, depending on the depth.125 As for penalties for those who seize the goods of shipwrecks, while the Rhodian Sea Law does not mention any, in the Basilics there were very high financial penalties: within the first year, the pilferers had to restore to the owners the goods at their value in quadruple; after the first year, there was simple restitution.126 This was the Roman, Justinianic, provision. But the Procheiros Nomos stated that after the first year the goods should be restored at double their value.127 Custom, apparently, was even stricter than the law.

A novel of Leo VI mentions the custom that mandated the death penalty for those who hid goods lost in shipwreck, for it was deemed a sin to deprive individuals of their wealth.

´ ´ The connection has been made by H. Ahrweiler, “Course et piraterie dans la Mediterranee orientale aux ´ ´` ` ` ` IV eme–XV eme siecles (empire byzantin),” in Course et piraterie: Etudes presentees a la Commission Internationale ` ` d’Histoire Maritime a l’occasion de son XVe colloque internationale pendant le XIVe Congres International des Sciences Historiques, San Francisco, 1975, 2 vols. (Paris, 1975), 1:10, 16, 17–19. Salvage is connected with jettison, on which see O. R. Constable, “The Problem of Jettison in Medieval Mediterranean Maritime Law,” Journal of Medieval History 20 (1994): 207–20.

Bas. 53.3.23 D 41.2.21, §§ 1.22 jo. D 16.3.18; Bas. 53.3.15 D 14.2.7.

Bas. 53, appendix, pt. 2, nos. 45, 46, 47. The Rhodian Sea Law has many other provisions regarding shipwreck, but they deal with the respective rights of the captain and the merchants aboard the ship. See, e.g., nos.

27, 29, 37, 40.

Bas. 60.20.1 D 47.9.1; cf. Cod. 4.2.18.

Pr. 39.25 ( Eisagoge 40.28), in Zepos, Jus 2:218, 361.

Angeliki E. Laiou [ 181 ] The emperor delivered himself of a somewhat rhetorical argument by analogy, to show that the death penalty was too heavy a punishment for a sin that is, after all, a crime of property: it is not just, he argues, to take an immaterial and immortal thing, one’s soul, in compensation for material and perishable things.128 Instead, the emperor restored the Roman penalty of a fine at four times the value of the objects in question, payable to the owner, although he gave no limitation of time, that is, the fine was not reduced after one year had elapsed.

However, it would seem that all of this legislation applied only to Byzantine subjects, not to foreigners. What happened in the case of foreigners in the early and middle Byzantine period is not clear. The question of salvage came up in the Russo-Byzantine treaty of 911, where the Rus and the Byzantines engaged themselves to help each other’s ships during a tempest; if there was a shipwreck, and the goods were pilfered or the sailors/ merchants were murdered, the penalties for theft and murder would apply.129 In the twelfth century, it would seem that the goods aboard the ships of foreigners not covered by treaties and wrecked in Byzantine waters were considered to belong to the fisc: indirect evidence to that effect is to be found in the chrysobull for Pisa (1111) and in an incident ca. 1200.130 The Seljuks and the Latin rulers of Cyprus in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century apparently also considered that such goods belonged to the fisc.

Quite early in Byzantine relations with the Westerners, clauses referring to shipwreck and salvage were incorporated in Imperial privileges. The treaties with Venice did not incorporate any such clauses, presumably because the Venetians, treated as Byzantine subjects, were covered by Byzantine law. Pisa was another matter. The chrysobull of 1111 was the first commercial privilege granted to an Italian power whose friendship was not a given, and with which, indeed, there had already been hostilities at sea. The Pisans requested and received a privilege regarding both piracy and shipwreck.131 It constitutes a key text in some respects. The emperor promised that if there was shipwreck in Byzantine waters, the Pisans could have without impediment their salvaged goods (the implication is that until then they could not). If some Byzantines helped salvage goods, the Pisans were allowed to keep those too, after making payment “according to the custom of the place, or according to any agreement they may have made.” While this was less than what had been agreed with the Rus, since no help was promised, it did lift the impediments on the recovery of shipwrecked goods. The Pisans retained the ownership of salvaged goods and had to pay those who helped recover them. But the emperor did not guarantee the safety of these goods.

This is a highly simplified and attenuated form of the Byzantine law on salvage. We next find legislation on salvage in the privileges granted to Italian merchants in the vari

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reprisals. But one may also suggest that the Italians, having received a greater guarantee from the Crusader states, returned to Byzantium asking here, too, for better guarantees.

In the 1180s, Andronikos I passed a measure of exceptional harshness toward those who pilfered shipwrecks. Choniates, who reports the measure, informs us that from time to time Byzantine emperors passed laws on salvage, although, after the Rhodian Sea Law, the only extant legislation, to my knowledge, is the Macedonian one, including Leo VI’s novel. But he also says that the laws were not applied and complains that there was a long-standing custom, found only among the Byzantines, that ships that foundered or were cast ashore were not helped by the inhabitants; rather, the natives seized anything that the sea did not.136 Andronikos’ measure is not transmitted in the form of a novel, but is rather in that of an entole, an order addressed to his relatives and the imperial officials.137 The emperor begins by saying that he believes his predecessors were incapable of exacting obedience to their laws because they only pretended to wish to put a stop to this evil; if they had really wanted to, they would have punished it with the death penalty.



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