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 slave’s owner the sum resulting from donations made by the aljamas, or Jewish communities. In the event of Gentou Camiç’s 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 slave’s 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.