Catalan commerce in the late Middle Ages
By Maria Teresa Ferrer
Catalan Historical Review, Vol.5 (2012)
Abstract: This is a summary of the development of Catalan maritime trade (encompassing Catalonia, Mallorca and Valencia) from the 12th to the late 15th century. The local products used for exchanges are studied, including saffron, dried fruit, raisins and figs, coral, wool, glue , tallow and manufactured items like woolen cloth, ceramics from Valencia, crafted hides, glass items, etc. The overseas spheres of trade are studied from the closest, namely Occitania and France, Italy and the Maghreb, to the Mediterranean Levant and the Atlantic territories, including Andalusia, Portugal, England and Flanders.
Introduction: In this article I shall examine the maritime commercial activities of Catalans abroad. I shall only briefly mention the mercantile activities of foreigners in Catalonia, Valencia and Mallorca, which would complement our overview of mediaeval Catalan commerce, yet would require a book of their own. Furthermore, the commerce in which foreigners engaged in the regions we are examining is almost better known than the activities of Catalans abroad.
It should be clarified that the term Catalan applied to commerce since the 13th century is meant in the broad sense in which it was used in the Middle Ages; that is, it encompasses Mallorcans and Valencians as well. With the exception of an occasional brief reference, I shall not study land-based commerce abroad since at this point there is little documentation available to enable us to analyse it.