Western Notaries and Islamic Judges : Solving Conflict in the Mamluk Cities of Commerce
It has become fashionable in recent times to understand cross-cultural trade as the effect of informal cooperation, with religious and ethnic diasporas laboring to grant the necessary trust and helping to circumvent the inconveniences of formal justice. However, Mediterranean merchants made an extensive use of legal artifacts to secure mixed arrangements and kept going to court. In this article I show how a shared notarial culture made possible for merchants of both Islam and Europe to provide written, legal support for their common dealings. Complementarily, I turn to analyze how mixed, interfaith cases were ultimately brought before the Royal Siyāsah Courts in Mamluk Alexandria and Damascus. Notarial agreements, drawn up by Islamic and Latin notaries set the grounds for the informal settlement of disputes. Where informal arrangements did not suffice, the Siyāsah Courts spread their jurisdiction over commercial matters regarding foreign merchants. Together, these two institutions helped to overcome the fundamental problem of conflict resolution in mixed cases. By examining how Latin notaries and Islamic judges dealt with testimony and proof, this article determines the degree of judicial cooperation that actually existed between the two legal systems.
Florentine Networks in the Middle East in the Early Renaissance
Though Florentines represented a minority group in the Mamluk sultanate and their business interests were relatively minor, a common identity laid the foundations for their commercial associations. Yet identity was put at play very differently by the members of these networks, and their common belonging, it will be argued, was subjected to manipulation and differently perceived and displayed within the same group, and, according to circumstance, by the same actors. Deprived of the normative and institutional configuration of the European communities, and isolated from government control, Florentine identity in the Middle East was blurred when compared with existence in Italian cities where merchants and exiles flocked in large numbers and whose activities were closely monitored by the Florentine government. Instead, Florentines in the East coalesced into groups that could be more easily entered or left through the manipulation of practices, such as language, family origins, or legal norms such as citizenship.Article under review status at the Mediterranean Historical Review
Venetian Trading Networks in the Medieval Mediterranean
To understand the system of business relations within the commercial network of the Republic of Venice, this article adopts a network analysis that differs from a standard narrative based on a privileged subset of actors or relations. It allows us to examine the socially mixed group of entrepreneurs, brokers, and shippers at the heart of Venice’s economic system, as well as the various conditions under which they operated. Venice’s overseas mercantile relations, shaped by the ruling patriciate, were riddled with restrictions upon foreigners and colonial subjects. The Venetian trading community centered in Alexandria from 1418 to 1420 exemplified this far-reaching Venetian system during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It featured a number of lower-rank characters negotiating, flaunting, and frequently breaking the rules, all to the greater profit of the empire.Journal of Interdisciplinary History (Forthcoming, Issue 2 – Autumn 2013)