«The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World edited by Angeliki E. Laiou and Roy Parviz Mottahedeh published by Dumbarton Oaks ...»
¨ ´ ` ` D. Jacoby, “Les Italiens en Egypte aux XIIe et XIIIe siecles: Du comptoir a la colonie?” in Coloniser au ˆ Moyen Age, ed. M. Balard and A. Ducellier (Paris, 1995), 78 ﬀ.
Benjamin bar Jonah of Tudela, The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, trans. M. Adler, A. Asher, ed.
M. Singer (Malibu, Calif., 1993), 70.
´ ` M. Canard, “Deux episodes des relations diplomatiques arabo-byzantines au Xe siecle,” in idem, Byzance et les musulmans du Proche Orient (London, 1973), no. , p. 51. On trade see, among others, P. von Sivers, “Taxes and Trade in the Arab Thugur, 750–962/133–351,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 25 (1982): 71–99.
[ 188 ] Byzantine Trade An interesting mention of Byzantine merchants in the early twelfth century shows them having quite a prominent position in Alexandria. The information comes from Orderic Vitalis, who notes, in 1102, the presence in Cairo of merchants from Constantinople, multimodis mercimoniis. He says that, according to the laws of the people (or of nations—leges gentium), they paid the required taxes and stayed there for some time.
They were very rich, and during their stay they visited churches, the poor Christians, and the Latin captives who had been brought to Cairo after the fall of Ramleh. They are credited with persuading Alexios I to blackmail the sultan into releasing Arpin of Bourges, under the threat that otherwise he, Alexios, would “have all the Egyptian factors and mercenaries in the whole Empire of Constantinople arrested” (“omnes Babilonicos institores et stipendiarios per totum imperium Constantinopolitanum comprehendi iuberet”).158 According to this account, Byzantine merchants seem to have been visiting Cairo in a routine fashion, staying for certain periods of time; they paid commercial duties, and their movements, at least within the city, were not restricted. Anna Komnene mentions that the emperor heard of the imprisonment of many famous Crusader knights and sent “a certain Vardales” and gave him letters to the sultan along with a great ` deal of money.159 The phrase tina Bardalh'n suggests that this was not a prominent courtier and may, indeed, have been a merchant.
In the course of the twelfth century, trade with Egypt seems to have been connected, to some extent, with political relations intimately related to the Crusades: the clearest example is the combined ambassadorial and trade mission to Saladin in 1192, which had the unhappy end that we have mentioned.160 Its main purpose had been diplomatic, while trade (and gift exchange) played an important but secondary role.
There were also changes in the commercial relations between Byzantines and Muslims during the period in question. The Fourth Crusade reoriented the trade of the Byzantines (the Empire of Nicaea) with the Muslims. Relations with Egypt were interrupted. Very few embassies (I count two) are attested from the Empire of Nicaea to Egypt, and their object was either ceremonial or unknown to us.161 There are no indications anywhere of continuing trade relations with Egypt; the inward-looking policy of the Nicene emperors and the sumptuary laws passed by John III Vatatzes162 would suggest that the absence of information is not a matter of chance but reﬂects the reality of very limited relations. On the other hand, political contacts with the sultanate of Konya were frequent, and, although there is again very limited information about trade relations, one may assume that they existed; their extent is impossible to recover. In the late twelfth century, there had been an active trade between the sultanate of Rum and Constantinople, through the Black Sea.163 But we have little information regarding Black Sea commerce between 1204 and 1261. We ﬁnd here Venetians and Turks, with the ´ Orderic Vitalis, 5.351–52. Arpin may have been the prior of Charite-sur-Loire: ibid., p. 350 n. 1. Albert of Aix attributes Arpin’s release to a Byzantine knight: RHC, HOcc 4:594.
Alexiade 11.7.3 (ed. Leib, 3:33); cf. Dolger, Regesten, no. 1216.
¨ Ibn al-Athır also mentions Greeks, along with “Franks,” in Acre in 1187: RHC, HOrient, vol. 1 (Paris, ¯ 1872), 689.
Dolger, Regesten, nos. 1713a (1226) and 1763a (after 13 Aug. 1238).
¨ Dolger, Regesten, no. 1777 (early 1243).
¨ See above, 184, during the reigns of Andronikos I and Alexios III.
Angeliki E. Laiou [ 189 ] Empire of Trebizond ﬁghting to retain some control. Trade with Constantinople would have bypassed the Nicene Empire. The sultans of Rum had developed a very signiﬁcant trade network including central Anatolia and the ports of the southern coasts and the Black Sea coast, cemented by the capture of Sinope (1214) and Attaleia (1207) and the establishment of a Seljukid protectorate in Sudak in 1225.164 How much this commercial ﬂourishing involved the Empire of Nicaea is not certain; it has been suggested that commercial relations between Nicaea and Konya increased after the Mongol invasion of Asia Minor in 1243.165 What is certain is that at least at one point, at a time of famine in the Seljuk state, there were massive exports of grain, sheep, goats, oxen, and other foodstuﬀs from Nicaea to the Seljuks; according to Gregoras, all the wealth of the Turks, in gold, silver, precious textiles, and other luxury objects, was drained into the coﬀers of both the state and private individuals.166 The export of wheat, forbidden in Byzantium for centuries,167 seems to have been entirely free in this instance.
With the recovery of Constantinople, there was, once again, a political and to some degree economic reorientation toward Egypt. Of primary importance to the Mamluks, and also important for the nexus of relationships between the Byzantines and the Muslims, was the slave trade, which brought to Egypt slaves for its armies from the Crimea through Constantinople. Almost immediately after the recovery of the capital, Emperor Michael VIII and the Egyptian sultan Baibars exchanged embassies regarding the importation of slaves from the Black Sea.168 Relations with Egypt went through ups and downs after 1264–65, but in 1281 there was, once again, a treaty between Michael VIII and the new sultan, Qalawun. This was the time when Michael VIII was engaged in fullscale hostilities with Charles of Anjou, and the original plan of the treaty incorporated a clause that would have guaranteed that Michael VIII would have denied free passage to anyone who wanted to go through his state to attack the Egyptians.169 The treaty of 1281, which has been published and analyzed by Canard, embodies some elements important to our topic. It should be read in conjunction with the treaty signed in 1290 between Qalawun and the Genoese,170 and against the background of Cahen, “Le commerce anatolien,” 94–95.
Angold, A Byzantine Government in Exile, 115–16.
Nikephoros Gregoras, Byzantina historia, ed. L. Schopen and I. Bekker, 3 vols. (Bonn, 1829–55), 1:42–43.
Cf. Leo VI’s novel 63, Noailles and Dain, pp. 231–33 (but it does not mention grain speciﬁcally; it deals with punishment of export of kekolymena generally).
George Pachymeres, Relations historiques, ed. A. Failler (Paris, 1984), 234; cf. 243, relations with Nogai.
Gregoras (Bonn ed.), 1:101–2, makes the explicit connection with the Egyptian need to sail to the northern coast of the Black Sea once a year, to procure slaves. Cf. Dolger, Regesten, nos. 1902–4 (Nov. 1261–Nov.
¨ ´ ´ 1262); M.
Canard, “Le traite de 1281 entre Michel Paleologue et le Sultan Qala’un,” Byzantion 10 (1935):
´ Canard, “Le traite,” 679. Canard thinks that this clause was dropped because Charles of Anjou reached an agreement with Qalawun. It may be noted that Michael VIII, despite a treaty with Baibars in 1261, renewed in 1267, had undertaken the obligation of joining a crusade against Egypt in 1274–76: D. J. Geanakopolos, Emperor Michael Palaeologus and the West: A Study in Byzantine-Latin Relations (Cambridge, Mass., 1959), 285–94.
` Latin text published by Antoine Isaac Sylvestre de Sacy, Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque du Roi (Paris, 1827), 33–52 (p. 42); 33, 40: reciprocal vs. simple guarantee of shipwrecked goods; p. 38 on the goods of merchants dying abroad. The Arabic text is translated by P. M. Holt, “Qalawun’s Treaty with Genoa in 1290,” Der Islam 57 (1980): 101–8.
[ 190 ] Byzantine Trade other treaties signed between the Egyptians and the maritime cities of Italy in the course of the thirteenth century. Such a reading reveals the following. The treaty of 1281 includes reciprocal clauses guaranteeing the free access of the merchants of both countries to the markets of both countries, against payment of the appropriate dues. Such a clause is usual in all treaties of the period.171 Other clauses, which had been general in the Mediterranean since the thirteenth century, include the statement that neither state would take reprisals against the merchants of the other for piratical activities undertaken in its territorial waters or by people who claimed to be its subjects; reprisals could only be taken against the individuals guilty of the act of piracy.172 A clause that is unique to this document has to do with the right of the Byzantines to buy oﬀ Christian slaves and the right of freed Christian slaves to sail to the Byzantine Empire. The treaty allows the Egyptians to export Byzantine wheat: an interesting clause because the Palaiologan
emperors tried mightily to restrict the export of Byzantine wheat by Western merchants:
in the treaty of 1265 with Venice, export was permitted only after its price in Constantinople was under 50 hyperpyra per kentenarion, which rose to 100 hyperpyra in the treaty of 1277, while treaties with the Genoese allowed export only after speciﬁc imperial permission.173 The reciprocal privilege allows Byzantine merchants to buy thoroughbred horses in the Egyptian possessions. The principle of free access to markets and merchandise extends even to the controlled wheat trade.
On the other hand, this treaty lacks the very detailed provisions regarding residence, the payment of duties, exemption from forced purchases, relations with customs oﬃcials, relations with the ﬁsc (what happens to the property of foreign merchants dying in the state), and relations between individuals (resolution of private disputes and debts) that appear in the treaties between the Italian maritime states and Egypt or Byzantium. What this suggests is that the commercial relations between Egypt and the Byzantines, which we know existed,174 were nowhere nearly as extensive as those of the Italian merchants and these two states. Thus the same general principles of trade existed between the Byzantines, the Christian merchants, and the Muslims (and similarly between the Egyptians and Byzantine and Western merchants), but the realities of trade were that Byzantine relations with Egypt were much more heavily political than economic/commercial in nature.
What distinguishes Michael VIII’s treaty with Qalawun from most others is the insistence of the Egyptians to have freedom of access to the Black Sea area (“le pays de Cf., e.g., Tafel and Thomas, Urkunden, 3:68 (treaty between Michael VIII and Venice, 1265); cf. ibid., 141–43, 146 (treaty of 1277). Similar though not identical provisions in the Arab text of the treaty between Genoa and Qalawun in 1290: Holt, “Qalawun’s Treaty,” 106.
´ Canard, “Le traite,” 677–80. There is, however, nothing on shipwreck, which, on the contrary, appears in both Venetian-Byzantine treaties and treaties between the Egyptians and Western maritime cities. See, for example, Tafel and Thomas, Urkunden, 3:73, 144 (with Byzantium, 1265, 1277), and 2:338–39, 484–85 (Venetian-Egyptian treaties of 1238 and 1254). Cf. Holt, “Qalawun’s Treaty,” 102.
A. Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins: The Foreign Policy of Andronicus II, 1282–1328 (Cambridge, Mass., 1972), 65, 73; eadem, “The Byzantine Economy in the Mediterranean Trade System,” in eadem, Gender, Society and Economic Life in Byzantium (Hampshire, 1992), no. , 213. On the grain trade see also J. Chrysostomides, “Venetian Commercial Privileges under the Palaeologi,” StVen 12 (1970): 267–356.
See, for example, Bertolotto, Nuova serie, 521 (ca. 1290), and Theodore Metochites, AASS, Nov. 4: 672.
Angeliki E. Laiou [ 191 ] Sudaq”), for the speciﬁc reason of buying slaves, with the proviso that they not be Christian slaves. This was, in fact, the major interest of the Egyptians in the Byzantine Empire and the principal reason why this treaty was concluded. And it was intimately connected with the politics surrounding the crusading movement as it developed after the Fourth Crusade, that is, in this speciﬁc case, with the plans of Charles of Anjou and the fate of the last remaining outposts of the kingdom of Acre.
In their formal aspects, that is, in the matter of treaties and oﬃcial agreements, Byzantine trade relations with Egypt remained connected with political concerns and with the concerns of the Byzantine emperors for the non-Latin Christians of the East. This was so in the late thirteenth century and remained so in 1348/49, in the negotiations of John VI Kantakouzenos with Malik Nasir Hasan, in which the security of Byzantine merchants in Egypt is embedded in discussions regarding the Christians of the Mamluk empire.175 While the formal relations were embedded in politics, the general conditions and mechanisms were similar to those between Byzantine and Western Christians, following the general lines elaborated in the twelfth century.