Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-7c2ld Total loading time: 0.194 Render date: 2021-12-03T05:19:45.286Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Social continuity and religious coexistence: the Muslim community of Tudela in Navarre before the expulsion of 1516

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2011

University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne.


This article evaluates the presence of Muslim communities in the Kingdom of Navarre in the late Middle Ages. Following the Christian Reconquest of the Navarrese bank of the Ebro in 1119, a sizeable Muslim community remained in Christian territory until 1516. This article focuses on the fifteenth century, a period for which religious coexistence in the smallest of the Iberian Christian kingdoms is in need of further contextualisation. An analysis of existing scholarship and new archival evidence throws light on the economic activities of the Muslims in Tudela as well as on their relationship with the Navarrese monarchy, their collective identity, their legal systems and their relationships not only with their Christian and Jewish neighbours, but also with other Iberian Muslim communities including those of Al Andalus, or Moorish Iberia.

Continuité sociale et coexistence religieuse: la communauté musulmane de tudela en navarre, avant l'expulsion de 1516

Cet article évalue la présence de communautés musulmanes dans le royaume de Navarre à la fin du Moyen Age. Après la reconquête chrétienne de la rive navarraise de l'Ebre en 1119, une importante communauté musulmane est restée en territoire chrétien jusqu'en 1516. L’étude se concentre sur le XVe siècle, une période pour laquelle la coexistence religieuse dans le plus petit des royaumes ibériques chrétiens appelle une mise en contexte. Une analyse des travaux existants alliée à de nouvelles données d'archives éclaire d'un jour nouveau les activités économiques des musulmans de Tudela ainsi que leurs relations avec la monarchie navarraise. Nous mettons en lumière leur identité collective, leurs systèmes juridiques, leurs relations non seulement avec leurs voisins chrétiens et juifs, mais aussi avec les autres communautés musulmanes ibériques, y compris celles d'Andalousie ou d'Ibérie maure.

Soziale kontinuität und religiöse koexistenz: die muslimische gemeinde in tudela in navarra vor der vertreibung von 1516

Dieser Beitrag fragt nach der Bedeutung muslimischer Gemeinden im Königreich Navarra im Sptätmittelalter. Im Anschluss an die christliche Rückeroberung Navarras nördlich des Ebro im Jahre 1119 gab es bis 1516 eine beträchtliche muslimische Gemeinschaft auf christlichem Territorium. Dieser Beitrag konzentriert sich auf das 15. Jahrhundert, denn in diesem Zeitraum herrschte in diesem kleinsten der christlichen Königreiche auf der Iberischen Halbinsel religiöse Toleranz, die allerdings einer weiteren Kontextualisierung bedarf. Ausgehend vom gegenwärtigen Forschungsstand wie auch von neuem Archivmaterial beleuchtet er die Wirtschaftstätigkeit der Moslems in Tudela, ihre Beziehungen mit dem Königshaus Navarra, ihre kollektive Identität, ihr Rechtssystem sowie die Beziehungen nicht nur zu ihren christlichen und jüdischen Nachbarn, sondern auch zu anderen iberischen muslimischen Gemeinschaften, einschließlich derjenigen in Al-Andalus, dem maurischen Iberien.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 The merindades were administrative divisions smaller than a province but bigger than a municipality. These subdivisions were exclusive to the Kingdom of Navarre and their names corresponded to those of the breed of sheep that was predominant in each. They are still in existence today. The Merindad de la Ribera was the Southern part of the Navarrese Kingdom, and the Ribera del Ebro (banks of river Ebro), the farming and agricultural stronghold of Navarre. The Mudejar community was made up of Muslims who were allowed to keep their religion, culture and a great deal of their autonomy after the Reconquest reached Navarre. Many others joined this particular community from other parts of the Iberian Peninsula where conditions for the Mudejar were rather less favourable.

2 See Carrasco, Juan, ‘Las imposiciones en las Buenas Villas del Reino de Navarra: Tudela a mediados del siglo XV’, Príncipe de Viana 233 (2004), 790Google Scholar.

3 See Ozaki, Akio, ‘El régimen tributario y la vida económica de los mudéjares de Navarra’, Príncipe de Viana 178 (1986), 437–84Google Scholar.

4 Carrasco, ‘Las imposiciones’, 789–866.

5 Mercedes García Arenal, Los moros y judíos de Navarra en la Baja Edad Media (Madrid, 1984).

6 Carlos III reigned from 1387 to 1425. His daughter Blanca I was Queen of Navarre from 1425 to 1441. Juan II was consort King of Navarre from 1425 to 1441, King of Navarre from 1441 to 1458 and King of Aragon from 1458 until his death in 1479 when he was succeeded by his younger son Fernando, who would eventually become the Catholic monarch. Carlos of Viana, older son of Juan II and legitimate heir to the throne of Navarre was born in 1421 and died in 1461. Juan's refusal to concede the throne to Carlos sparked the Navarrese civil wars, fought between the clans of Beaumont, who supported Viana, and Agramunt, supporters of Juan II. Leonor I reigned from 1464 to 1479.

7 See Carrasco, ‘Las imposiciones’, 789.

8 Jewish communities in medieval Navarre have been thoroughly studied by Carrasco. See Juan Carrasco, ‘Juderías y sinagogas en el reino de Navarra’, in Ana María López Álvarez and Ricardo Izquierdo Benito eds., Juderías y sinagogas de la sefarad medieval (Cuenca, 2003), 295–340.

9 García Arenal, Los moros y judíos de Navarra, 63.

10 García Arenal highlights how the conditions following the 1119 capitulation were very favourable for the Moors of Tudela, much more so than in Castile, Portugal or even Aragon; García Arenal, Los moros y judíos de Navarra, 62–4. Segura Urra points out that this only applied to those who lived in the taifa – then morería – of Tudela; Félix Urra, Segura, ‘Los mudéjares navarros y la justicia regia: cuestiones penales y peculiaridades delictivas en el siglo XIV’, Anaquel de Estudios Árabes 14 (2003), 241Google Scholar. Considering that these were the vast majority and that rural Mudejar communities were generally very wealthy, I have to agree with García Arenal's perceptions, especially in view of the fifteenth century Accounts and Judicial documents. With regards to Mudejar immigration from Portugal, García Arancón follows specific cases, with her focus on the thirteenth century; Raquel Arancón, García, ‘Martín Sánchez, un andalusí converso en Navarra (c. 1230–c. 1263)’, Anaquel de Estudios Árabes 3 (1992), 217–22Google Scholar.

11 See Carrasco, ‘Juderías y sinagogas’, 134.

12 The Ulama was a religious authority, a committee of several men. In Tudela, they exercised internal judicial power and law enforcement within the Mudejar community. The leader of this committee was also called the Ulama.

13 See Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 440.

14 Ibid., 441.


15 Soler Milla studied Iberian commercial routes involving the Mudejar community, with special emphasis on the Valencian aljama; Juan Leonardo Milla, Soler, ‘Comercio musulmán versus comercio cristiano: la actividad de los mercaderes mudéjares y la producción de las aljamas sarracenas. Valencia, primera mitad del siglo XIV’, Revista de Historia Medieval 14 (2006), 229–47Google Scholar. The Moors of Navarre were active in Peninsular trade with Al Andalus, both directly and via Valencia.

16 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 441.

17 Carrasco, ‘Las imposiciones’, 789–866; García Arenal, Los moros y judíos de Navarra.

18 Luis Suárez Fernández, ‘Castilla (1350–1406)’, in Ramón Menéndez Pidal ed., Historia de España (Madrid, 1966), vol. 14, 374; Emilio Mitre, ‘Enrique III, Granada y las Cortes de Toledo de 1406’, in Homenaje al profesor Emilio Alarcos García (Valladolid, 1965–1967), 379; Rachel Arié, L'espagne musulmane au temps des Nasrides (1232–1492) (Paris, 1973), 123–4; Enrique Boyero, Pérez, ‘Un mensaje confidencial de Carlos III el Noble al Rey de Granada’, Príncipe de Viana 194 (1991), 69Google Scholar.

19 Original reproduction in General Archive of Simancas, State Paper 1–1°, fol. 140. The meeting referred to in the letter, incidentally, never took place.

20 Pérez Boyero, ‘Un mensaje confidencial’, 69.

21 Ibid., 69–70.


22 Ladero found very similar occupations among the Mudejar communities in Castile and Christian Andalusia; Miguel Ángel Ladero, ‘Los mudéjares de Castilla en la Baja Edad Media’, in Actas del I Simposio Internacional de Mudejarismo (Teruel, 1981), 349–90.

23 General Archive of Navarre, Chamber of Accounts (hereafter AGN-Accounts), 108, No. 6, 87 and 133, No. 22, 9.

24 AGN-Accounts, 125, No. 3, 5.

25 Ladero, ‘Los mudéjares de Castilla’, 379–80.

26 Ladero, ‘Los mudéjares de Castilla’, 380.

27 AGN-Accounts, 132, No. 28, 11 and others. Ozaki reported him accompanying Carlos III to Paris in 1405; see Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 452. This anachronism suggests that there might have been two generations of Barbicanos working for the Navarrese crown during the fifteenth century.

28 AGN-Accounts, 152, No. 23, 67, signed 11 July 1450 reported the arrest of Lope Barbicano, former royal architect, accused on charges of embezzlement.

29 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 453.

30 AGN-Accounts, 133, No. 24, 65.

31 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 478.

32 See Eduardo Moreno, Manzano, ‘El regadío en Al Andalus: problemas en torno a su estudio’, En la España Medieval 8 (1981), 617–32Google Scholar.

33 AGN-Accounts, 133, No. 15, 41.

34 AGN-Accounts, 107, No. 9, 49.

35 AGN-Accounts, 137, No. 26, 5.

36 AGN-Accounts, 138, No. 10, 15.

37 AGN-Accounts, 141, No. 6, 6.

38 AGN-Accounts, 138, No. 2, 14.

39 AGN-Accounts, 142, No. 17, 11.

40 Juan Carrasco worked out the approximate exchange rates between the different currencies used in Navarre and Aragon half way through the fifteenth century; Carrasco, Juan, ‘Los bienes de Fortuna de Mosse Benjamín, judío de Tudela (1432)’, Príncipe de Viana 189 (1990), 91Google Scholar.

41 AGN-Accounts, 139, No. 31.

42 AGN-Accounts, 147, No. 6, 6.

43 AGN-Accounts, 147, No. 5, 17 and No. 11, 18 and others, between 8 May 1440 and 13 August 1441 at least.

44 AGN-Accounts, 147, No. 15, 17 and No. 20, 20, from 2 March 1442 and 12 March 1442.

45 Ozaki enumerated some of the pieces of equipment and ornaments that they produced: ‘mallas, arneses, bracerotes, guanteletes, bacinetes, … braserueles, camadeleros, arnadelas, crisuelos...’ See Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 447–8.

46 AGN-Accounts, 147, No. 20, 68.

47 AGN-Accounts, 149, No. 45, 1.

48 AGN-Accounts, 147, No. 23, 34.

49 AGN-Accounts, 152, No. 28, 20. Carlos of Viana's relation with the Mudejar community remained strong during his years of conflict and confrontation against his father. Anecdotally, but still significantly, Viana bought the linen, silks and fabrics required by his wife Agnes of Cleves on her deathbed from the Moor Ezmel, from Tudela, on 6 June 1448 (AGN-Accounts, 152, No. 16, 33). He also purchased six pairs of shoes for her funeral from Mudejar shoemaker Abdalá Culebro (AGN-Accounts, 154, No. 54, 4). Shoemaking was a very common job for Muslims in the aljama. However, it was nowhere near as profitable as other trades or blacksmithing. Most shoemakers also sold other products such as wine (see Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 454).

50 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 474.

51 Pérez Boyero, ‘Un mensaje confidencial’, 69–72.

52 AGN-Accounts, 152, No. 25, 32.

53 See n. 12.

n. 12

54 AGN-Accounts, 170, No. 1, 19.

55 Juan II, a Castilian, married to another Castilian and with his focus firmly on securing power in the larger Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, implemented a very different policy to that of Carlos III, whose aim was a defensive one (to preserve Navarre's territory from the growing powers of Aragon and, in particular, Castile). Juan II's agenda was expansionist and, in many senses, a prelude to the Reconquest of Granada by his son Fernando (Ferdinand the Catholic).

56 AGN-Accounts, 170, No. 25, 6.

57 Muslim soldiers were, indeed, very important to Christian armies of the fifteenth century. Perhaps the most remarkable case was Álvaro de Luna's Castilian army. Luna's troops included many Mudejar soldiers, most of them brought by Gutierre de Sotomayor from Magacela. Their role in the first battle of Olmedo is believed to have been decisive. See Edward Cooper, Castillos señoriales en la corona de Castilla (Salamanca, 1991), 117.

58 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 450.

59 Ozaki defined them as ‘ingenieros’; see Ibid. Edward Cooper suggests that the tiro del puente, a cannon that was used in Tudela in the fifteenth century, could have come from Bordeaux, although the Mudejar blacksmiths of Navarre were perfectly capable of producing such weapons; Cooper, Castillos señoriales, 68. This cannon is now on display in Madrid's Museum of the Spanish Army.


60 See García Arenal, Los moros y judíos de Navarra, 13. Carrasco studied taxation in La Ribera through documental analysis of the Municipal Archive of Tudela between the years of 1480 and 1521; Carrasco, Juan, ‘La hacienda municipal de Tudela a fines de la Edad Media (1480–1521)’, En la España Medieval 7 (1985), 89132Google Scholar.

61 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 440–60.

62 A tree grating was a metallic web used around the base of a tree for several purposes, such as integrating the tree in an urban environment, ‘beautifying’ a garden or integrating irrigation systems. Tree gratings are of particular interest because of their obvious impact on the natural irrigation of crops. The Mudejar were not taxed on water usage, partly because their use of water was very efficient and technologically sound.

63 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 440–60.

64 Ibid., 442.


65 See Robert Burns, Muslims, Christians and Jews in the Crusader Kingdom of Valencia (Cambridge, 1984), 16. They had to pay extra tax in Valencia to use the baths and during some periods just could not afford to use them.

66 AGN-Accounts, 107, No. 9, 49.

67 AGN-Accounts, 108, No. 3, 51. This was a period of dynastic stability and peace, when Navarre's position in Iberian conflicts was one of splendorous isolation.

68 AGN-Accounts, 128, No. 9.

69 Ibid.


70 AGN-Accounts, 128, No. 9 and AGN-Accounts, 108, No. 3, 51.

71 AGN-Accounts, 122, No. 14, 1.

72 AGN-Accounts, 131, No. 21, 7.

73 AGN-Accounts, 135, No. 42.

74 AGN-Accounts, 137, No. 14, 10.

75 AGN-Accounts, 147, No. 9, 65. This annual taxation remained at 300 pounds in 1469 under Juan II.

76 AGN-Accounts CO PS, paper No. 2S, No. 50, 3.

77 AGN-Accounts, 154, No. 63, 1.

78 AGN-Accounts, 158, No. 9, 1.

79 AGN-Accounts, 163, No. 4.

80 Félix Segura Urra considers Navarre's Mudejar community to have lacked judicial autonomy in the fourteenth century; Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 244. This is because of the presence of the bayle de la corte (Christian court judge) in most Muslim trials. However, my perception of the fifteenth-century documentation is that both legal systems were perfectly complementary and worked harmoniously in practice. They simply dealt with different cases. There is no evidence of any symptoms of mistrust between the Court and the Ulama, as both of them agreed on most of the rulings in which they were involved.

81 Ozaki, ‘El régimen tributario’, 439.

82 See Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 247.

83 Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 247–8.

84 General Archive of Navarre (AGN), Register 45, f. 42r, from 1341.

85 Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 248 and 252.

86 Royal authority made this distinction precisely because the vast majority of murders were committed by Christians and because there were virtually no cases of Christians killed by religious minorities; Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 253.

87 General Archive of Navarre, Court rulings (hereafter AGN-Rulings), S CO PS 2 Leg. 13, No. 75, 35.

88 According to Segura Urra, numbers in the fourteenth century were as follows: 85 per cent of crimes committed by Mudejar men, 15 per cent of crimes committed by Mudejar women; Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 247. Numbers are very similar for the fifteenth century and, incidentally, very similar for the Christian and Jewish communities.

89 Segura Urra highlighted how, from the twelfth century, the King of Navarre had traditionally endeavoured to maintain peace and coexistence with religious minorities; Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 249. In the fifteenth century, this rights-based system still applied.

90 AGN-Rulings, S CO PS 2 Leg. 16, No. 55, 12.

91 AGN-Rulings, S CO PS 2 Leg. 16, No. 55, 13.

92 AGN-Rulings, S CO PS 2 Leg. 19, No. 22, 11 and 22, 8.

93 AGN-Rulings, S CO PS 2 Leg. 19, No. 22, 7.

94 Segura Urra states that, in the fourteenth century, crimes committed by Muslims accounted for 6 per cent of the kingdom's criminality, with their population being around 4 per cent; Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 246. This can be explained by the fact that Mudejar people were very closely monitored by both the Christian and Muslim authorities. In the fifteenth century, disputes were rare and criminality rates were perfectly normal.

95 AGN-Rulings, S CO PS 2 Leg. 19, No. 22, 10 and 22, 13 and 22, 14 and 22, 16.

96 AGN-Rulings, S CO PS 2 Leg. 19, No. 22, 15.

97 These cases were extremely rare, but their rarity and the social unrest they created granted them severe punishments, especially by the Muslim authority; see Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 254–5.

98 Segura Urra, ‘Los mudéjares navarros’, 251.

99 AGN-Accounts, 156, No. 48, 2.

100 Edward Cooper informed me of the existence of a 1502 safe conduct for Mudejar people to go to Northern Africa following their expulsion from Spain. There are specific cases of exiles involving members of the Navarrese aljama after 1516 in the General Archive of Simancas, but their individual analysis will be part of future research.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Social continuity and religious coexistence: the Muslim community of Tudela in Navarre before the expulsion of 1516
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Social continuity and religious coexistence: the Muslim community of Tudela in Navarre before the expulsion of 1516
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Social continuity and religious coexistence: the Muslim community of Tudela in Navarre before the expulsion of 1516
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *