Heterogeneity and Exchange: Safe-Conducts in Medieval Spain
28 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2010 Last revised: 8 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 20, 2013
During a time when religious animosities were reaching their peak in Medieval Europe leading up to the violent crusades, Christians, Jews, and Muslims residing in close proximity in Medieval Spain experienced a period of relative peace, prosperity, and cultural exchange. This historical episode, referred to as La Convivencia, or the coexistence, is a puzzle to many period historians. This paper argues that this anomalistic period arose due to the emergence of commerce, which generated cooperation and mitigated conflict among these heterogeneous groups, à la the Doux-Commerce Thesis of the Scottish Enlightenment. Commercial exchange between Christians, Jews, and Muslims was established through the use of safe-conducts, a promise of protection sold to foreign merchants. This paper details the operation of safe-conducts and the civilizing role that commerce played among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Medieval Spain.
Keywords: violence, social distance, institutions, Doux-Commerce Thesis
JEL Classification: K40, P48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation