El call de la Ciutat de Mallorca a l'entorn de 1350: alguns aspectes socials i econòmics


  • Margalida Bernat i Roca


This is the continuation of an article published on the same topic in Tamid 4 (2002-2004), pp. 111-136. The author addresses a number of social and economic aspects of the aljama of Majorca, observing that, within their closed and relatively small groups, Jewish communities reflected many of the general traits of the Christian society around them. In the case of the City of Majorca, some distinctive features are observed, despite a very similar structure in which the differences are to a great extent attributable to outside pressure rather than to deliberate choice from within. Professional activities. Certain sectors, such as the textiles and tanning industries, were of major importance, and Jews were highly active as traders. The areas where Jews were allowed to live were determined by royal decree. In the case of the City of Majorca, the decision was made by Jaume I on 18th July, 1300. The first locations designated by Jaume I concentrated on three areas of the city: the Call Menor, around the street that is now known as Sant Bartomeu, an area in the vicinity of the port, near the shipyards, and another which came to be known as the Call Major. As for the workshops, the regulations were less restrictive: workshops and shops owned by Jews in the City of Majorca were not required to be adjoining their homes and could be located outside the Jewish quarter. In 1350 there were 735 heads of household in the Call Major. The occupation of a large number of them, some 59.86%, is not known. This does not mean that they had no occupation, but simply that there is no record of those individuals’ profession in the source consulted. The remaining 40.14%, however, are recorded as having an interesting range of occupations. They were involved in 55 different professions which may be grouped into twelve distinct areas of activity, as reflected in Table 1. There is no record of anybody being engaged in fishing or farming. A third of the active population was in one way or another involved in textiles manufacturing. However, within this activity, there is no indication of the individuals involved in handling the raw materials; curiously enough, the most widely represented trade is not weaving (not included) or wool treating (similarly, not mentioned), but silk spinning, with 13 representatives. In the field of clothes manufacturing, the most significant occupation is that of tailor, with 57 individuals, representing 9.39% of the total textiles sector, which was concentrated in the Call Major. The source mentions the significant number of 7 dyers. With 84 documented individuals, trade and transport constitute the second most important activity in terms of the number of people recorded, showing that the Jewish community of Majorca was well integrated in the trading network of the period, both at the local level and over greater distances. The most popular trade related to leather and hides was that of shoemaker, with the considerable number of 21 individuals engaged in this activity. There is no record of any tanners or bleachers - the workers whose job it was to prepare the raw materials. The tanneries in those days were located in the district still known as Sa Calatrava, just to the south-west of the Call Major. Seventeen individuals are described as being engaged in artistic or cultural activities of some kind. Most were schoolteachers or bookbinders, seven belonging to each of these two professions. As for administrative posts, the Jewish community had four secretaries, or neemanim, who formed the governing council, as well as a treasurer and a procurator. Those who were engaged in occupations relating to wood and metalwork accounted for 1.49% of the working population. The trade with the highest number of individuals in this sector was that of silversmith, with six representatives. The personal services sector included seven individuals: four doctors, two hairdressers and a ‘folla fembra’, i. e. a prostitute. Regarding the doctors, they are known to have played an important part in the intellectual life of the Call in the City of Majorca; some served as physicians in the royal household. There were also two butchers recorded in the documents. There is no evidence of any baker catering exclusively for the Jewish community. Several individuals were involved in the manufacture of soap. The role of women in medieval Jewish society was very limited. They were regarded as part of a family’s property, but some women are recorded as having been involved in professional activities, as well as in the management of assets. In principle, Jews paid taxes in proportion to their wealth; taxes were levied on their properties. In the case of the poll tax known as monedatge, however, exactly the same sum was paid by all, irrespective of their personal assets.