By Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

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Extra info for Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonisation from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic 1229–1492

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Holy Week yielded an annual crop of violent outrages. Hard times or febrile preachers could stir popular hatred with astonishing ease. In 1374, the king had to quell demands for the Jews' expulsion at a time of famine by recalling that they had paid for royal relief ships. In 1370, the preaching licence of the rabid, footloose mendicant, Fray Bonanato, was withdrawn because of his anti-Semitic excesses. The pogroms and forcible conversions of the next generation - the near extinction of the call after the blood-letting of 1391 - were being prepared.

In the light of current knowledge, however, it seems best to leave the achievements of the Catalan Company out of any account of the Mediterranean career of the Aragonese royal house. l3l) - and even to the kingdom of Sicily itself. Except for its kings and a few elite families, introduced into fiefs carved from the royal demesne or wrested from earlier generations of foreigners, Sicily remained an island sui generis, untouched by personnel or institutions from Spain. Even the intruded Aragonese aristocrats rapidly became 'Sicilianised' and intermarried with native families.

Though the terms of the distribution, with the accent on knights' fees, were feudal, the breakdown of the settlers by designation reflects the commercial priorities of the conquest. Of those specified, 163 were merchants and their grants on average were worth double the mean. A large number of valuable grants made in 1330 went to members of a consortium who proposed to establish a silver foundry. The only other substantial categories were artisans (155), peasants (34), members of the liberal professions (30) and public officials, chiefly notaries (29).

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