James I of Aragon:
The Barcelona Navigation Act of 1227
Barcelona, during the Middle Ages, was one of the leading ports of the
Mediterranean. It tried to establish a virtual monopoly of its own carrying trade and, to
that end, preference was given to Barcelona shippers by King James.
Be it known to all that I, James, by the grace of God, King of Aragon, Count of
Barcelona and Lord of Montpellier, am mindful of the fidelity and services which our
faithful citizens of Barcelona have always shown, and do show now, to us and our
Wishing to increase your wealth by the benefits we confer on you, we have granted this
special favor by our present charter to you and your successors in the city of Barcelona,
namely, that any ship or vessel coming from beyond the seas, from Alexandria, or from
Egypt, or proposing to go to those places from Barcelona, shall not take any merchandise
or goods or cargo, nor carry them, nor bring them to those parts, while any native ship of
Barcelona can, or wishes to, carry the said load or merchandise or to take it to those
parts. And if any one thinks of sending his goods or merchandise to those parts let him
send them in a ship or vessel of Barcelona and let him not dare to send them on a foreign
ship or vessel while a ship or vessel of Barcelona is there ready to take his goods or
merchandise. And we grant and concede to you, the citizens of Barcelona, that no foreign
ship or other vessel, or ship from Sardinia and South Italy, shall dare to take wine at
any of your quays, or buy it to take it to foreign parts, except with your permission and
assent. And we have firmly ordered that the mayor, our bailiff, the honest men of
Barcelona, all other mayors, bailiffs, nobles of Catalonia, officials, all our servants
both now and in the future, and all those who wish to send merchandise, or to load it on
ships or vessels, shall faithfully observe and cause to be observed all the privileges
granted in our charter. And let no one dare to go contrary to this decree; if any do so,
let them know that they will incur our anger and indignation and will pay a penalty of a
thousand gold pieces.
From: A. de Capmany, ed., Memorias Sobre la Marina, Comercio, y Artes de la Antigua
Ciudad de Barcelona, (Madrid, 1779-1792), Vol. II, p. 11; reprinted in Roy C. Cave
& Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee:
The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998