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Agrarian measures in the kingdom of Granada before and after the Castilian conquest: the lands of the Alpujarra

Agrarian measures in the kingdom of Granada before and after the Castilian conquest: the lands of... sIntroductionsThe issue of metrology is one of the most complex fields of science. The current bibliography contains hardly any researches focusing on the analysis of measurements in the kingdom of Granada during the period of transition between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Era. This was a time characterised by great complexity as a result of the culmination of the conquest of al-Andalus by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 and the subsequent conversion to Christianity of the Granadan Moriscos in 1501.s1sIt should be pointed out that, after the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada, the last Islamic stronghold in the Iberian Peninsula, the Muslims largely continued with their way of life, but the status quo was soon disrupted: they then faced the dilemma of conversion or exile. The baptism in the Christian faith of the majority of the Muslim population marked the beginning of the Morisco period.s2sIt was in this historical context that the kingdom of Granada underwent thorough political, social, economic, linguistic, religious and cultural changes. These transformations even affected agricultural management and, consequently, the field of measurement. This article will focus on analysing the metrological system of the Moriscos in the Alpujarra, a rural area located south of the city of Granada,s3sin order to elucidate whether this system represented a rupture or a continuity with past practices. To date, particularly scarce are studies dealing with weights and measures in this region; the only works available are the article by Manuel Espinar Moreno published almost four decades ago,s4sand a recent contribution by the author of the present study, which reviewed and updated some information on the issue from the data recorded in a book of ecclesiastical habices.s5sThe books of ecclesiastical habices are inventories or cadastres written in the Castilian language and containing exhaustive accounts of the pious endowments (habices)s6sassigned to the old Islamic places of worship. After the conversion of the Moriscos, these assets were seized and transferred to Christian churches. In order for all these possessions to be properly registered, the Christian authorities commissioned officials to go to the localities in which these properties existed and to write down all the information they could gather about them. With the collaboration of the locals, the Castilian scribes listed and described in detail the various types of real estate (both urban and rural). In the case of rural assets, these descriptions included information on the surface area covered and the agricultural produce, as well as water resources and irrigation schedules.s7sWritten on the confluence of two eras, these documentary sources allow us insights into the Islamic past and its legacy in the area that concerns us here, that is, the traces of Nasrid Granada in the field of metrology, due to the presence of quite a few Arabisms.s8sThey also shed light on the use made by the Alpujarran Moriscos of Castilian weights and measures in their daily lives. In a broader sense, another merit of these documents is to reflect the changing nature of this rural society and to note the pace at which these changes are taking place.sMy first analysis of part of this documentary material took as its starting point the book of habices of the Alpujarran tahas or districtss9sof Ugíjar and Andarax written in 1530. That work not only revealed the existence of units of measurement that had not previously come to light, but also highlighted several hitherto unpublished equivalents, and drew attention to the value of the data preserved in the documentation of habices to the study of metrology. In this regard, the objective of the present study is to further deepen our knowledge of the metrological system of the Morisco era in the kingdom of Granada in general, and in the Alpujarra in particular. For this reason, I propose to extend the geographical framework of the research to the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, and Jubiles via an analysis of the earlier book of habices referring to the Alpujarra, dating from 1527. The results of my previous study will be incorporated into this new work, since the comparison and contrast of the two manuscripts will shed light on the differences and similarities between the different tahas and will help to offer as complete a vision of the subject as possible.s10sIn this context, the books of habices of 1527 and 1530 provide abundant information on measures related to agricultural activity: surface areas or lengths of plots of land, weight or volume relative to arboricultural produce, as well as irrigation. By examining the data in these sources on the measurements in use in five districts in the Alpujarra, it will be possible to determine the extent to which Castilian legislation on this subject had been implemented at that time. It must be borne in mind that, after the conquest of Granada, the Catholic Monarchs tried to modify the system of weights and measures used by the Muslims, seeking a correspondence with the Castilian system as a way to avoid fraud and to facilitate commercial transactions between the two communities or between neighbouring regions. Indeed, from the thirteenth century onwards, successive monarchs issued decrees on the standardisation of weights and measures throughout the territory under their rule.s11sIt can be assumed that the different decrees enacted in this regard in other areas of the Crown of Castile with an Islamic past were not very successful, but this aspect should be studied in depth. It would also be interesting to extrapolate this analysis to other Iberian Christian kingdoms that had remained under Islamic rule, such as the Crown of Aragon. As we will see below, the study of the field of metrology in geographical-temporal coordinates of thorough historical transformations is relevant for the clues it can give us about broader trends in the socio-economic sphere. It should therefore also be taken into account by specialists of other late medieval or early modern contexts beyond the Iberian framework.sBefore starting the analysis, it should be noted that the same measurement might be expressed in different units; similarly, a certain measure may not present an exact equivalence in all places of the kingdom of Granada, but may have a regional or even a local value. This is due to the fact that the units of measurement were adapted to the characteristics of each geographical area; hence, attempting to establish the metrology is often a fruitless task. One must take into consideration that all the units discussed here have been contrasted and verified as far as possible, although in some cases the variations within the same unit are so great from one area to another (or from one era to another) that the value indicated should be regarded as orientative rather than absolute. Finally, one must mention that in this work the original metrological terms are always provided as recorded in the books of habices; in the specific case of Arabisms, the Arabic word from which each term originates is also indicated.sAgrarian measures of surface area and lengthsThe books of habices of 1527 and 1530 provide an insight into the organisation of the productive activities in the Alpujarran districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax, where agriculture was the foundation of the economy. Despite the existence of dryland farming, most of the agricultural activity was based on horticulture and arboriculture, and depended on irrigation; it is in this field where much of the metrological terminology is found. Among other things, these inventories frequently collect information on the extension of the farmlands corresponding to ecclesiastical habices. There are six measures that refer to the surface area of plots of land: marjal (from the Arabic marⓨaʻ ‘agricultural measure’); fanega (from the Arabic fanīqa ‘sack for carrying earth or another substance’); arroba (from the Arabic al-rubʻ ‘quarter part’); celemín (from the Arabic ṯumn ‘eighth part’); cuartilla and barchilla (or its variant barchila). The first four are words of Arabic origin, so there is no doubt that they had been in common use in al-Andalus for measuring area.s12sAlthough it was usual for these lands to be measured in units of area, in some cases Castilian measurements of length, that is, feet and paces, are documented in the five tahas, when the plots had an elongated shape. In farmland, the length and width of the plots are usually provided; on occasions, the highest and the lowest point also appear in areas with a marked slope. Very rarely, both the area and the length are recorded in a hybrid form.sAgrarian measures of areasIrrigated landsThese inventories of habices express the measurement of irrigated lands in marjales, except for a couple of references to the barchilla in the village of Laujar (taha of Andarax)s13sand one to the fanega in the locality of Atalbéitar (taha de Ferreira).s14sThe marjal was generally equivalent to 525 sq m, although in the district of Ugíjar it corresponded to 436 sq m.s15sThe barchilla was equal to half a cuartilla, that is, 200 sq m.s16sAs for the fanega, the reference to its use in irrigated land is surprising, since it was a characteristic measure of dryland, as we shall see below.sDrylandsIndeed, the fanega was employed above all to measure the extent of land devoted to dryland farming. In the districts of Jubiles and Andarax it was the most frequently used unit of area to refer to unirrigated land. In all cases, it is defined as the surface of land necessary to sow a fanega of grain. In general, in the kingdom of Granada the fanega was equivalent to 4,697 sq m,s17salthough in Ugíjar it corresponded to 3,972 sq ms18sand in Andarax to 3,300 sq m.s19sIn the tahas of Ferreira and Ugíjar, the marjal is the most frequent measurement of area in plots of dryland.s20sAnother surface measure used in dryland, specifically in the districts of Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax, was the celemín, which represented one-twelfth of a fanega; in this case it is the land corresponding to the sowing of a celemín of grain.s21sThe arroba and the cuartilla appear only very rarely. The sole reference to the latter is found in the village of Sopron (taha of Ugíjar); curiously, its equivalence is given in celemines, as it is stated that one cuartilla is equal to four celemines.s22sThe arroba is recorded in the localities of Anqueyra, Nechite and Escariantes (taha of Ugíjar) and in Yniça and Paterna (taha of Andarax). We know that this measurement refers to the area of land where an arroba of grain is sown, but we ignore the exact equivalence of the arroba in this context.s23sIn the district of Poqueira, there is evidence that dryland agriculture was practised, but it is not documented in the farmland linked to the ecclesiastical habices.sAgrarian measures of lengthsThe foot is an anthropometric measure of length, which has been employed by all cultures, and which over time has become a standard measurement.s24sIn both books of habices, the foot is almost always documented in urban settings, but on occasion it also appears used to measure farmland – and even rocks – in the villages of Pampaneira (taha of Poqueira), Fondales, Mecina (taha of Ferreira), Jubiles and Notáez (taha of Jubiles).s25sIt was not employed in the districts of Ugíjar or Andarax. In general, the foot has an approximate equivalence of 0.2786 metres.s26sLongitudinal measurements are rarely presented in paces. The pace is another anthropometric measurement obtained with the successive movement of both feet when walking. The ordinary pace is the distance between the heel of one foot and the toe of the other when making a step, while the geometric pace is the distance of a full stride from the position of one foot to its position where it sets down again at the end of the step. In the case that concerns us here, it is not specified whether the ordinary pace is used, which measures 0.69 metres – equivalent to two and a half feet – or whether, on the contrary, it is the geometric pace, which is twice as long.s27sThe only reference in which a property is measured in paces refers to an orchard in the village of Bubión (taha of Poqueira).s28sThe pace was also employed to mark distances; the only case recorded here appears in the book of habices of 1527, where it is used to measure the distance between two mulberry trees in the locality of Pampaneira (taha of Poqueira).s29sAgrarian measures of weight and volumesThe information registered in the books of the Alpujarran habices of 1527 and 1530 shows that both the irrigated and rainfed farmland in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax contained large numbers of trees, especially the irrigated areas. The trees and plants common to the five districts were mulberry trees, chestnut trees, fig trees, hackberry trees, cherry trees and grapevines, while olive trees, holm oaks, poplars, pomegranate trees, ash trees, plum trees, pear trees, wild olive trees, rowan trees, apple trees, apricot trees, oleanders, almond trees, willows, tarays, walnut trees, carob trees and brambles are also documented in some tahas. Among this wide range of species, mulberry trees were the most abundant; their links to the silk industry meant that their cultivation was a profitable business for the villagers. In the book of habices of 1530, mulberry trees were followed in terms of numbers by olive trees and, in the inventory of 1527, by chestnut trees. The mulberry trees and the olive trees produced high yields, thus in both documentary sources their productivity is thoroughly accounted. The leaves of the mulberry tree were highly valued, since they served as food for silkworms, while olives were used mainly to produce oil and, to a lesser degree, for direct consumption; likewise, the production of olive leaves had various agricultural, culinary, medical-pharmacological and veterinary applications.s30sIn addition to mulberry and olive trees, metrological values are also provided for the production of chestnut and walnut trees in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira and Jubiles, due to the value of their fruit. The quantification of the agrarian production of some species is a clear evidence of the importance they continued to have in the agricultural economy of the Morisco period.s31sIn this context, both inventories of habices provide information of interest on measurements of weight or mass, and volume or capacity, in relation to the produce of these trees. The units used to measure weight included arrobas, pounds, güeznas and quintales; the volume of liquids was measured in colas, arrobas, pounds and ounces, while for solidss32sthe units were fanegas, cadahes and arrobas. As we shall see below, some of these terms, in addition to the ones already mentioned, were of Arabic origin.sAgrarian measures of weight or masssThe production of mulberry leaves was mainly measured in arrobas, a unit present in all the villages of the districts under study. The most common weight for the arroba of the mulberry leaf was 11.50 kg.s33sVery occasionally, it was measured in pounds, güeznas and quintales. The weight of the mulberry leaf in pounds (0.460095 kg)s34sis documented in the localities of Fondales, Mecina (taha of Ferreira), Notáez (taha of Jubiles), and Cherín and Júbar (taha of Ugíjar).s35sAs for güezna (from the Arabic term wazna ‘weight’), recorded in the villages of Pampaneira (taha of Poqueira) and Yniça (taha of Andarax), the text itself indicates that it is equivalent to a quarter of an arroba.s36sFor its part, the quintal (from the Arabic term qintār ‘containing a hundred’) was a larger unit of weight equivalent to four arrobas or one hundred pounds (46 kg), although its value could vary from one area to another;s37sin the documentation consulted, its use to measure the production of mulberry leaves is limited to the locality of Capileira (taha of Poqueira).s38sWith regard to the measurement of olive leaves, three instances are only recorded in the villages of Lobras, Notáez (taha of Jubiles) and Torrillas (taha of Ugíjar). The measure is expressed in arrobas, though no data are provided on the equivalence.s39sIt is possible that the same criteria were applied as for mulberry leaves.sThe documentary sources analysed barely quantify the harvest of the numerous fruit trees that made up the Alpujarran landscape. Silence is almost always the general trend; in fact, there is only one reference to the crop of pears in the locality of Cástaras (taha of Jubiles), which were measured in pounds.s40sThere exists another isolated mention to the production of grapes in the village of Laroles (taha of Ugíjar), which is referred to by the expression ‘a load of grapes’.s41sIt should be borne in mind that in al-Andalus the maximum unit of weight and volume had received the generic name of load (ḥiml), in reference, respectively, to the weight of two or three bales, or the amount a packhorse could carry.s42sAgrarian measures of volume or capacitysLiquidssThe book of habices of 1527 shows that the main unit employed to measure the oil harvest was the arroba; the use of pounds and colas (from the Arabic term qulla)s43swas much less frequent. This information refers mainly to the district of Jubiles, since in the taha of Poqueira the presence of olive trees is documented, although the amount of the oil yield is not; conversely, in the district of Ferreira, the existence of olive trees is not recorded, but there is a reference to the measurement of oil in colas.s44sThe inventory of habices of 1530 states that in the easternmost tahas of Ugíjar and Andarax the oil harvested is usually measured in colas, and much less frequently in arrobas, pounds and ounces.sThus, the cola is a measure of capacity for liquids, especially for oil. Its equivalence varies from place to place. This documentation indicates that the cola of oil in Lobras (taha of Jubiles) was equivalent to an arroba and a half,s45swhile in the locality of Alcolea (taha of Andarax) it corresponded to an arroba.s46sNo record exists of its value in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira and Ugíjar. Likewise, there is evidence that an arroba of oil corresponded to 25 pounds, that is, to 12.56 litres, while a pound of the same liquid had a equivalence of 0.503 litres (1/25 of an arroba), the ounce being one-sixteenth of a pound.s47sIn the inventory of habices of 1527, the pound of oil appears only registered in the villages of Notáez, Cástaras and Yátor (taha of Jubiles),s48swhile the use of the cola is solely attested in the localities of Pitres (taha of Ferreira) and Lobras (taha of Jubiles).s49sNo references are made to measuring oil in ounces. On the other hand, in the manuscript of 1530 the arroba of oil is only documented in some villages in the districts of Ugíjar (Anqueyra, Laroles, Torrillas, Escariantes) and Andarax (Alcolea, Paterna, Benecid, Fondón).s50sThe localities in which the pound was used as a unit of measurement are less numerous: Cherín, Vnqueyar, Sopron and Picena (taha of Ugíjar) and Alcolea (taha of Andarax).s51sThe use of the ounce in this text is merely anecdotal, with only one mention in Picena in relation to the measurement of oil.s52sSolidss53sThe abundance of references in relation to the production of olive oil is in stark contrast to the scarcity of information on the harvesting of olives for direct consumption. In these documentary sources, the fruit of the olive tree is measured in cadahes (from the Arabic term qadaḥ, ‘measurement of capacity for solids’),s54sfanegas and arrobas. The book of habices of 1527 has little to say on this matter, since it only registers a couple of mentions in the villages of Notáez and Nieles (taha of Jubiles); olive production was measured in fanegas in the former, and in arrobas in the latter. The fanega of olives had a volume equivalent to 60 kg in weight;s55sin turn, converting measurements of volume into measures of weight, an arroba of olives might reach a value equal to 11.502 kg.s56sIn this regard, the manuscript of 1530 contains more information, since the olive yield is measured in cadahes, fanegas and, to a lesser extent, arrobas. The first two measurements are only found in the locality of Darrícal (taha of Ugíjar),s57swhich was the centre of most of the production of olives for direct consumption in the area, while the arroba was recorded in the villages of Cherín, El Fex and Torrillas (taha of Ugíjar), as well as in Fondón (taha of Andarax).s58sThe text itself reports the equivalence between cadahes and fanegas of olives in Darrícal, as on two occasions it is registered that eight cadahes are equal to four fanegas.s59sAccording to both books of habices, chestnut production was especially important in the westernmost districts of the Alpujarra: Poqueira, Ferreira and, to a lesser degree, Jubiles. In Ugíjar and Andarax, very few chestnut trees are documented, and the crop harvested is not quantified. The volume of this type of nuts is measured in fanegas, cadahes and celemines. The former is the most widely used; by contrast, the cadahe and the celemín are employed much less frequently, though roughly to the same extent as each other: while all the references to the cadahe are located in the village of Pitres (taha of Jubiles),s60sthe celemín was used in the localities of Capileira (taha of Poqueira), Capileira, Aylaçar, Pórtugos (taha of Ferreira) and Trevélez (taha of Jubiles).s61sThe inventory of 1527 does not contain the equivalences of these three units measuring chestnuts, but it is known that, in general, a fanega of these types of products corresponded to 55.501 litress62sand a celemín of these crops to 4.625 litres,s63sso that 12 celemines make up a fanega. It may well be that the value of the cadahe for chestnuts was equal or similar to that of the cadahe for walnuts, whose exact correspondence appears elsewhere in this documentation, as we shall see below.sThe walnut harvest was smaller than that of chestnuts, and was concentrated mainly in the district of Poqueira, with some isolated references in that of Jubiles; in the tahas of Ferreira and Andarax there are hardly any allusions to walnut trees, and none at all in Ugíjar. Like the chestnut harvest, the walnut crop is expressed mainly in fanegas, and also in cadahes and celemines. In fact, only one reference to the celemín is recorded in the village of Alguazta (taha of Poqueira)s64sand another to the cadahe in the locality of Capileira (taha of Poqueira).s65sIn the latter, the correspondence mentioned between these two measures is found; thus, it appears that four cadahes are equal to 14 celemines,s66sthat is, a cadahe of walnuts is equivalent to 3.5 celemines. It should be emphasised that the similarity of the process of measuring chestnuts and walnuts is reflected in the similitude of the values of their measurements.sMeasures of irrigationsIn the Alpujarra, water was a scarce commodity that had to be strictly regulated. Its use in irrigation in pre-conquest times had been governed by a kind of customary law, so that the practices among the Moriscos had undergone few modifications since the Islamic period. A characteristic of this irrigation system was the complexity of the distribution of water, which differed in each village; it depended on the amount of water available, the irrigated area, the characteristics of the crops, and the hydraulic infrastructure already in place.sThe books of habices of 1527 and 1530 mention the right to water and indicate the measurements used in the irrigation of the properties linked to the ecclesiastical habices of the districts of Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax. Both manuscripts reveal that abundant waterways could be used freely; however, when water was scarce, it had to be regulated at local level.s67sIn the district of Poqueira and in some villages in other tahas, there are no references to its distribution, presumably due to its abundance there; these villages include Pitres, Capileira, Aylaçar, Mecina (taha of Ferreira), Trevélez, Cástaras (taha of Jubiles), Picena, Tarchelina, Nechite, Mecina Alfahar, Torrillas, Escariantes and Darrícal (taha of Ugíjar).sIn these documentary sources, while some measurements of irrigation refer to the volume of water used, others deal with the length of time of irrigation, or even to a combination of both of them. Measurements of Andalusi origin abound. In general, it was the length of time during which the water entered the irrigated farmland that was measured rather than the flow rate; measuring the flow of water through the river or through the irrigation canal would have been particularly difficult and would have had to rely on subjective criteria such as visual inspection.sRegarding the measurement of the volume of water, it was distributed to users by means of a wooden board with a series of apertures, which allowed the amount corresponding to each farmer to pass through.s68sThe measures recorded in both inventories concern the part of the water contained in ponds or deposits, either making explicit reference to them (‘half a pool of water’, ‘the entire font of water’), or referring to fractions of water: 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 2/3, 3/4, and so on.sIn relation to the length of time of irrigation, a rotational system was used. If there were few turns, they might last all day,s69sbut if there were many, they were divided into time slots that usually ran from dawn to dusk. The time limits were often dawn,s70snoon,s71searly afternoon (around 3 or 4 pm)s72sand sunset,s73sso they seem to have matched the times of Islamic prayers.s74sThe fact that these time limits can be identified in the two books of habices under study suggests that this division survived, to some extent, after the Castilian conquest. However, this documentation also shows that there were other times of the day that might mark the beginning and the end of a turn, since over time the distribution of water was gradually divided still further into a quarter of an hour of water, half an hour, an hour, an hour and a quarter, an hour and a half, two hours, half a day minus a quarter, a third of half a day, and so on.sThe most recurrent measure of irrigation in the book of habices of 1527 is the arroba of water, which was also the second most frequent in the inventory of 1530. In this context, the equivalence of this well-known term presents certain variations. On the one hand, some passages in the manuscript of 1530 relating to the villages of Fondón and Yniça (taha of Andarax) define the arroba as a quarter (understood to be a quarter of the day of irrigation).s75sHowever, the manuscript of 1527 is more precise, clarifying that in the locality of Mecina Bombarón (taha of Jubiles) the arroba constitutes a quarter of a quarter of the day, that is, an hour of water.s76sLikewise, a reference to the village of Júbar (taha of Ugíjar) specifies that four arrobas are equal to a whole day, from sunrise to sunset.s77sOn the other hand, in the locality of Paterna (taha of Andarax) there exists a variant that receives the name of arroba minmi, a measure of time that is equivalent to 1/16 of a day.s78sIn the book of habices of 1530, the most frequent unit of measurement of irrigation is the çumen, which had been the second most cited in the inventory of 1527. The exact equivalence of this measure is unknown, and several hypotheses have been proposed in relation to its meaning. Some define it as the amount of water corresponding to an azumbre (from the Arabic term al-ṯumn ‘eighth part’) needed to irrigate the area of a marjal,s79sthe azumbre being one eighth of an arroba of liquid, equivalent to 2.16 litres.s80sOthers relate it to the time of irrigation, proposing an etymological link to the Arabic ṯumn.s81sThe manuscript of 1530 sheds light on this issue by mentioning the existence of a variant çumenguanoz, used only in the village of Laroles (taha of Ugíjar) and equivalent to an hour and a half of irrigation.s82sThe fact that çumenguanoz is associated with a turn of irrigation is significant, since it suggests that the etymology of the term çumen is to be found in the Arabic word zaman (‘time’, ‘moment’); in turn, the variant çumenguanoz appears to correspond to an Arabic expression composed of three elements: zaman wa-nusf, whose literal translation would be ‘a time and a half’, very close to the meaning of ‘hour and a half’ that it presents in the text. If we accept this meaning for this variant, we can deduce that the çumen is equivalent to one hour of irrigation.s83sFinally, it should be noted that the book of habices of 1530 records other measurements of irrigation that were only employed in local contexts. Thus, the term farha (perhaps from the Arabic farga ‘emptying, measure of grain’) is attested in the village of Guarros (taha of Andarax), where it represents the equivalent of a day or a night of water every nine days.s84sThe word haba or its variant hapa (from the Arabic ḥabba ‘grain, small part of something’), equal to one hour of watering, is also registered only in a couple of references in the locality of Bayárcal (taha of Andarax).s85sLikewise, in a case documented in the village of Ugíjar, there is evidence of a measure called humuz,s86swhose equivalence is not specified, although its meaning can perhaps be deduced from its probable etymological connection to the Arabic jumus (‘fifth part’).s87sTherefore, the survival of certain lexical terms with etymological links to Arabic suggests that the Moriscos from the Alpujarran districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax maintained, to some extent at least, the Islamic system of distribution of irrigation. Some measures of irrigation and their variants are attested in the documentation under study. Among the commonly used units of measurement, the data preserved suggest that the arroba was predominant in the westernmost tahas of Poqueira, Ferreira and Jubiles, while the çumen was the most frequent to the east, in Ugíjar and Andarax. Curiously, the measures and variants of more restricted and local use are only documented in the districts of Ugíjar and Andarax. Of course, the units of measurement of water varied widely from area to area and sometimes corresponded to quantities that only locals knew.s88sConclusionssThe books of the Alpujarran habices of 1527 and 1530 offer valuable clues for the reconstruction of the measurement system used by the Moriscos of the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax, which can be broadly extrapolated to other parts of the same region and, in chronological terms, to almost the entire first half of the sixteenth century and possibly earlier. In general, both inventories provide us a glimpse of the dynamics of this rural and mountainous area, supplying a notable body of documentation on the agricultural measures employed by the Morisco community. However scarce the material studied may seem, it is more than enough to illustrate the coexistence of two measurement systems, Islamic and Castilian, in the area at this time.sIn contrast to the traditional Castilian concepts of measurement (feet, paces, cuartillas, barchillas, pounds and ounces), the data extracted from these documentary sources confirms the inheritance of al-Andalus reflected in the use of other measures (marjal, fanega, arroba, celemín, quintal, cola, cadahe, güezna, çumen, çumenguanoz, arroba minmi, farha, haba/hapa and humuz). The information compiled leaves no doubt that, four decades after the Christian conquest, the Alpujarra continued to employ measurements of Islamic origin, showing that compliance with Castilian legislation on weights and measures was only relative despite attempts by Castilian authorities to render the earlier system inoperative. On the one hand, the continuity in the use of the Islamic measurement system had an impact on the linguistic level with the preservation of Arabisms in the Castilian language. On the other hand, these documents constitute valuable testimonies of how the Islamic systems of agricultural production management survived de facto the Christian conquest and the subsequent imposition of new measurement systems. If we locate the data offered here in a broader context, evidence suggests that the transformations in the multiple aspects of the rural life of the Alpujarran Moriscos were not always immediate and in many cases the socio-economic structures inherited from the previous period continued. It is possible that in this particular area these changes were not as evident as they probably were in other regions of the kingdom of Granada. The reason for this survival in a region like the Alpujarra is perhaps the fact that its conquest had been negotiated rather than achieved by force of arms; therefore, the status quo was maintained, with minimal repopulation by Christian settlers, so that some traditional practices of the Morisco community endured until its definitive expulsion after the war of 1568.sIn the books of habices many measures are expressed in different units. The study of this material makes it possible to identify the units of measurement that were the most used, while others are mentioned very rarely, perhaps due to their strongly local character. Likewise, some units bearing the same name present variations in their value, even in locations that are close to each other. The comparison of these five districts reveals a greater use of certain units of measurement in some areas than in others. Among the units used to measure the area of farmland, the marjal is the most frequently recorded in irrigated agriculture; the marjal is also the most referenced in dryland in the tahas of Ferreira and Ugíjar, although the fanega is prevalent in Jubiles and Andarax. For their part, the foot and the pace, as longitudinal agrarian measures, appear only in the manuscript of 1527. Regarding agricultural measurements of weight or mass, in all the districts under study the arroba is the most common for measuring mulberry leaves and the only one used to measure olive leaves. With regard to measurements of volume, the oil harvest is expressed above all in arrobas in the inventory of 1527 and in colas in the list of 1530. In the production of olives, mostly documented in the tahas of Ugíjar and Andarax, the cadahe is the most frequently used measure. In contrast, the chestnut and walnut harvests are quantified only in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira and Jubiles, and in both cases are usually measured in fanegas. And as for the water used for irrigation, the most cited unit of measurement is the arroba in the inventory of 1527 and the çumen in that of 1530.sTrying to find exact modern-today equivalents for historical measurements may be frustrating. In some of the cases discussed here, the data cannot be reliably confirmed and so for the moment they are still working hypotheses. However, what the present study shows is that the documentation of habices is a fundamental reference point for expanding our knowledge of the agrarian measures used in the Morisco period. Nevertheless, the range of measurements used in the Alpujarra was probably even wider than the sources analysed here have suggested, and so the conclusions of this study are by no means the final word on the subject.s http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Rural History Cambridge University Press

Agrarian measures in the kingdom of Granada before and after the Castilian conquest: the lands of the Alpujarra

Rural History , Volume 33 (1): 13 – Apr 1, 2022

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Cambridge University Press
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© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press
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1474-0656
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10.1017/S0956793321000248
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Abstract

sIntroductionsThe issue of metrology is one of the most complex fields of science. The current bibliography contains hardly any researches focusing on the analysis of measurements in the kingdom of Granada during the period of transition between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Era. This was a time characterised by great complexity as a result of the culmination of the conquest of al-Andalus by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 and the subsequent conversion to Christianity of the Granadan Moriscos in 1501.s1sIt should be pointed out that, after the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada, the last Islamic stronghold in the Iberian Peninsula, the Muslims largely continued with their way of life, but the status quo was soon disrupted: they then faced the dilemma of conversion or exile. The baptism in the Christian faith of the majority of the Muslim population marked the beginning of the Morisco period.s2sIt was in this historical context that the kingdom of Granada underwent thorough political, social, economic, linguistic, religious and cultural changes. These transformations even affected agricultural management and, consequently, the field of measurement. This article will focus on analysing the metrological system of the Moriscos in the Alpujarra, a rural area located south of the city of Granada,s3sin order to elucidate whether this system represented a rupture or a continuity with past practices. To date, particularly scarce are studies dealing with weights and measures in this region; the only works available are the article by Manuel Espinar Moreno published almost four decades ago,s4sand a recent contribution by the author of the present study, which reviewed and updated some information on the issue from the data recorded in a book of ecclesiastical habices.s5sThe books of ecclesiastical habices are inventories or cadastres written in the Castilian language and containing exhaustive accounts of the pious endowments (habices)s6sassigned to the old Islamic places of worship. After the conversion of the Moriscos, these assets were seized and transferred to Christian churches. In order for all these possessions to be properly registered, the Christian authorities commissioned officials to go to the localities in which these properties existed and to write down all the information they could gather about them. With the collaboration of the locals, the Castilian scribes listed and described in detail the various types of real estate (both urban and rural). In the case of rural assets, these descriptions included information on the surface area covered and the agricultural produce, as well as water resources and irrigation schedules.s7sWritten on the confluence of two eras, these documentary sources allow us insights into the Islamic past and its legacy in the area that concerns us here, that is, the traces of Nasrid Granada in the field of metrology, due to the presence of quite a few Arabisms.s8sThey also shed light on the use made by the Alpujarran Moriscos of Castilian weights and measures in their daily lives. In a broader sense, another merit of these documents is to reflect the changing nature of this rural society and to note the pace at which these changes are taking place.sMy first analysis of part of this documentary material took as its starting point the book of habices of the Alpujarran tahas or districtss9sof Ugíjar and Andarax written in 1530. That work not only revealed the existence of units of measurement that had not previously come to light, but also highlighted several hitherto unpublished equivalents, and drew attention to the value of the data preserved in the documentation of habices to the study of metrology. In this regard, the objective of the present study is to further deepen our knowledge of the metrological system of the Morisco era in the kingdom of Granada in general, and in the Alpujarra in particular. For this reason, I propose to extend the geographical framework of the research to the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, and Jubiles via an analysis of the earlier book of habices referring to the Alpujarra, dating from 1527. The results of my previous study will be incorporated into this new work, since the comparison and contrast of the two manuscripts will shed light on the differences and similarities between the different tahas and will help to offer as complete a vision of the subject as possible.s10sIn this context, the books of habices of 1527 and 1530 provide abundant information on measures related to agricultural activity: surface areas or lengths of plots of land, weight or volume relative to arboricultural produce, as well as irrigation. By examining the data in these sources on the measurements in use in five districts in the Alpujarra, it will be possible to determine the extent to which Castilian legislation on this subject had been implemented at that time. It must be borne in mind that, after the conquest of Granada, the Catholic Monarchs tried to modify the system of weights and measures used by the Muslims, seeking a correspondence with the Castilian system as a way to avoid fraud and to facilitate commercial transactions between the two communities or between neighbouring regions. Indeed, from the thirteenth century onwards, successive monarchs issued decrees on the standardisation of weights and measures throughout the territory under their rule.s11sIt can be assumed that the different decrees enacted in this regard in other areas of the Crown of Castile with an Islamic past were not very successful, but this aspect should be studied in depth. It would also be interesting to extrapolate this analysis to other Iberian Christian kingdoms that had remained under Islamic rule, such as the Crown of Aragon. As we will see below, the study of the field of metrology in geographical-temporal coordinates of thorough historical transformations is relevant for the clues it can give us about broader trends in the socio-economic sphere. It should therefore also be taken into account by specialists of other late medieval or early modern contexts beyond the Iberian framework.sBefore starting the analysis, it should be noted that the same measurement might be expressed in different units; similarly, a certain measure may not present an exact equivalence in all places of the kingdom of Granada, but may have a regional or even a local value. This is due to the fact that the units of measurement were adapted to the characteristics of each geographical area; hence, attempting to establish the metrology is often a fruitless task. One must take into consideration that all the units discussed here have been contrasted and verified as far as possible, although in some cases the variations within the same unit are so great from one area to another (or from one era to another) that the value indicated should be regarded as orientative rather than absolute. Finally, one must mention that in this work the original metrological terms are always provided as recorded in the books of habices; in the specific case of Arabisms, the Arabic word from which each term originates is also indicated.sAgrarian measures of surface area and lengthsThe books of habices of 1527 and 1530 provide an insight into the organisation of the productive activities in the Alpujarran districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax, where agriculture was the foundation of the economy. Despite the existence of dryland farming, most of the agricultural activity was based on horticulture and arboriculture, and depended on irrigation; it is in this field where much of the metrological terminology is found. Among other things, these inventories frequently collect information on the extension of the farmlands corresponding to ecclesiastical habices. There are six measures that refer to the surface area of plots of land: marjal (from the Arabic marⓨaʻ ‘agricultural measure’); fanega (from the Arabic fanīqa ‘sack for carrying earth or another substance’); arroba (from the Arabic al-rubʻ ‘quarter part’); celemín (from the Arabic ṯumn ‘eighth part’); cuartilla and barchilla (or its variant barchila). The first four are words of Arabic origin, so there is no doubt that they had been in common use in al-Andalus for measuring area.s12sAlthough it was usual for these lands to be measured in units of area, in some cases Castilian measurements of length, that is, feet and paces, are documented in the five tahas, when the plots had an elongated shape. In farmland, the length and width of the plots are usually provided; on occasions, the highest and the lowest point also appear in areas with a marked slope. Very rarely, both the area and the length are recorded in a hybrid form.sAgrarian measures of areasIrrigated landsThese inventories of habices express the measurement of irrigated lands in marjales, except for a couple of references to the barchilla in the village of Laujar (taha of Andarax)s13sand one to the fanega in the locality of Atalbéitar (taha de Ferreira).s14sThe marjal was generally equivalent to 525 sq m, although in the district of Ugíjar it corresponded to 436 sq m.s15sThe barchilla was equal to half a cuartilla, that is, 200 sq m.s16sAs for the fanega, the reference to its use in irrigated land is surprising, since it was a characteristic measure of dryland, as we shall see below.sDrylandsIndeed, the fanega was employed above all to measure the extent of land devoted to dryland farming. In the districts of Jubiles and Andarax it was the most frequently used unit of area to refer to unirrigated land. In all cases, it is defined as the surface of land necessary to sow a fanega of grain. In general, in the kingdom of Granada the fanega was equivalent to 4,697 sq m,s17salthough in Ugíjar it corresponded to 3,972 sq ms18sand in Andarax to 3,300 sq m.s19sIn the tahas of Ferreira and Ugíjar, the marjal is the most frequent measurement of area in plots of dryland.s20sAnother surface measure used in dryland, specifically in the districts of Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax, was the celemín, which represented one-twelfth of a fanega; in this case it is the land corresponding to the sowing of a celemín of grain.s21sThe arroba and the cuartilla appear only very rarely. The sole reference to the latter is found in the village of Sopron (taha of Ugíjar); curiously, its equivalence is given in celemines, as it is stated that one cuartilla is equal to four celemines.s22sThe arroba is recorded in the localities of Anqueyra, Nechite and Escariantes (taha of Ugíjar) and in Yniça and Paterna (taha of Andarax). We know that this measurement refers to the area of land where an arroba of grain is sown, but we ignore the exact equivalence of the arroba in this context.s23sIn the district of Poqueira, there is evidence that dryland agriculture was practised, but it is not documented in the farmland linked to the ecclesiastical habices.sAgrarian measures of lengthsThe foot is an anthropometric measure of length, which has been employed by all cultures, and which over time has become a standard measurement.s24sIn both books of habices, the foot is almost always documented in urban settings, but on occasion it also appears used to measure farmland – and even rocks – in the villages of Pampaneira (taha of Poqueira), Fondales, Mecina (taha of Ferreira), Jubiles and Notáez (taha of Jubiles).s25sIt was not employed in the districts of Ugíjar or Andarax. In general, the foot has an approximate equivalence of 0.2786 metres.s26sLongitudinal measurements are rarely presented in paces. The pace is another anthropometric measurement obtained with the successive movement of both feet when walking. The ordinary pace is the distance between the heel of one foot and the toe of the other when making a step, while the geometric pace is the distance of a full stride from the position of one foot to its position where it sets down again at the end of the step. In the case that concerns us here, it is not specified whether the ordinary pace is used, which measures 0.69 metres – equivalent to two and a half feet – or whether, on the contrary, it is the geometric pace, which is twice as long.s27sThe only reference in which a property is measured in paces refers to an orchard in the village of Bubión (taha of Poqueira).s28sThe pace was also employed to mark distances; the only case recorded here appears in the book of habices of 1527, where it is used to measure the distance between two mulberry trees in the locality of Pampaneira (taha of Poqueira).s29sAgrarian measures of weight and volumesThe information registered in the books of the Alpujarran habices of 1527 and 1530 shows that both the irrigated and rainfed farmland in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax contained large numbers of trees, especially the irrigated areas. The trees and plants common to the five districts were mulberry trees, chestnut trees, fig trees, hackberry trees, cherry trees and grapevines, while olive trees, holm oaks, poplars, pomegranate trees, ash trees, plum trees, pear trees, wild olive trees, rowan trees, apple trees, apricot trees, oleanders, almond trees, willows, tarays, walnut trees, carob trees and brambles are also documented in some tahas. Among this wide range of species, mulberry trees were the most abundant; their links to the silk industry meant that their cultivation was a profitable business for the villagers. In the book of habices of 1530, mulberry trees were followed in terms of numbers by olive trees and, in the inventory of 1527, by chestnut trees. The mulberry trees and the olive trees produced high yields, thus in both documentary sources their productivity is thoroughly accounted. The leaves of the mulberry tree were highly valued, since they served as food for silkworms, while olives were used mainly to produce oil and, to a lesser degree, for direct consumption; likewise, the production of olive leaves had various agricultural, culinary, medical-pharmacological and veterinary applications.s30sIn addition to mulberry and olive trees, metrological values are also provided for the production of chestnut and walnut trees in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira and Jubiles, due to the value of their fruit. The quantification of the agrarian production of some species is a clear evidence of the importance they continued to have in the agricultural economy of the Morisco period.s31sIn this context, both inventories of habices provide information of interest on measurements of weight or mass, and volume or capacity, in relation to the produce of these trees. The units used to measure weight included arrobas, pounds, güeznas and quintales; the volume of liquids was measured in colas, arrobas, pounds and ounces, while for solidss32sthe units were fanegas, cadahes and arrobas. As we shall see below, some of these terms, in addition to the ones already mentioned, were of Arabic origin.sAgrarian measures of weight or masssThe production of mulberry leaves was mainly measured in arrobas, a unit present in all the villages of the districts under study. The most common weight for the arroba of the mulberry leaf was 11.50 kg.s33sVery occasionally, it was measured in pounds, güeznas and quintales. The weight of the mulberry leaf in pounds (0.460095 kg)s34sis documented in the localities of Fondales, Mecina (taha of Ferreira), Notáez (taha of Jubiles), and Cherín and Júbar (taha of Ugíjar).s35sAs for güezna (from the Arabic term wazna ‘weight’), recorded in the villages of Pampaneira (taha of Poqueira) and Yniça (taha of Andarax), the text itself indicates that it is equivalent to a quarter of an arroba.s36sFor its part, the quintal (from the Arabic term qintār ‘containing a hundred’) was a larger unit of weight equivalent to four arrobas or one hundred pounds (46 kg), although its value could vary from one area to another;s37sin the documentation consulted, its use to measure the production of mulberry leaves is limited to the locality of Capileira (taha of Poqueira).s38sWith regard to the measurement of olive leaves, three instances are only recorded in the villages of Lobras, Notáez (taha of Jubiles) and Torrillas (taha of Ugíjar). The measure is expressed in arrobas, though no data are provided on the equivalence.s39sIt is possible that the same criteria were applied as for mulberry leaves.sThe documentary sources analysed barely quantify the harvest of the numerous fruit trees that made up the Alpujarran landscape. Silence is almost always the general trend; in fact, there is only one reference to the crop of pears in the locality of Cástaras (taha of Jubiles), which were measured in pounds.s40sThere exists another isolated mention to the production of grapes in the village of Laroles (taha of Ugíjar), which is referred to by the expression ‘a load of grapes’.s41sIt should be borne in mind that in al-Andalus the maximum unit of weight and volume had received the generic name of load (ḥiml), in reference, respectively, to the weight of two or three bales, or the amount a packhorse could carry.s42sAgrarian measures of volume or capacitysLiquidssThe book of habices of 1527 shows that the main unit employed to measure the oil harvest was the arroba; the use of pounds and colas (from the Arabic term qulla)s43swas much less frequent. This information refers mainly to the district of Jubiles, since in the taha of Poqueira the presence of olive trees is documented, although the amount of the oil yield is not; conversely, in the district of Ferreira, the existence of olive trees is not recorded, but there is a reference to the measurement of oil in colas.s44sThe inventory of habices of 1530 states that in the easternmost tahas of Ugíjar and Andarax the oil harvested is usually measured in colas, and much less frequently in arrobas, pounds and ounces.sThus, the cola is a measure of capacity for liquids, especially for oil. Its equivalence varies from place to place. This documentation indicates that the cola of oil in Lobras (taha of Jubiles) was equivalent to an arroba and a half,s45swhile in the locality of Alcolea (taha of Andarax) it corresponded to an arroba.s46sNo record exists of its value in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira and Ugíjar. Likewise, there is evidence that an arroba of oil corresponded to 25 pounds, that is, to 12.56 litres, while a pound of the same liquid had a equivalence of 0.503 litres (1/25 of an arroba), the ounce being one-sixteenth of a pound.s47sIn the inventory of habices of 1527, the pound of oil appears only registered in the villages of Notáez, Cástaras and Yátor (taha of Jubiles),s48swhile the use of the cola is solely attested in the localities of Pitres (taha of Ferreira) and Lobras (taha of Jubiles).s49sNo references are made to measuring oil in ounces. On the other hand, in the manuscript of 1530 the arroba of oil is only documented in some villages in the districts of Ugíjar (Anqueyra, Laroles, Torrillas, Escariantes) and Andarax (Alcolea, Paterna, Benecid, Fondón).s50sThe localities in which the pound was used as a unit of measurement are less numerous: Cherín, Vnqueyar, Sopron and Picena (taha of Ugíjar) and Alcolea (taha of Andarax).s51sThe use of the ounce in this text is merely anecdotal, with only one mention in Picena in relation to the measurement of oil.s52sSolidss53sThe abundance of references in relation to the production of olive oil is in stark contrast to the scarcity of information on the harvesting of olives for direct consumption. In these documentary sources, the fruit of the olive tree is measured in cadahes (from the Arabic term qadaḥ, ‘measurement of capacity for solids’),s54sfanegas and arrobas. The book of habices of 1527 has little to say on this matter, since it only registers a couple of mentions in the villages of Notáez and Nieles (taha of Jubiles); olive production was measured in fanegas in the former, and in arrobas in the latter. The fanega of olives had a volume equivalent to 60 kg in weight;s55sin turn, converting measurements of volume into measures of weight, an arroba of olives might reach a value equal to 11.502 kg.s56sIn this regard, the manuscript of 1530 contains more information, since the olive yield is measured in cadahes, fanegas and, to a lesser extent, arrobas. The first two measurements are only found in the locality of Darrícal (taha of Ugíjar),s57swhich was the centre of most of the production of olives for direct consumption in the area, while the arroba was recorded in the villages of Cherín, El Fex and Torrillas (taha of Ugíjar), as well as in Fondón (taha of Andarax).s58sThe text itself reports the equivalence between cadahes and fanegas of olives in Darrícal, as on two occasions it is registered that eight cadahes are equal to four fanegas.s59sAccording to both books of habices, chestnut production was especially important in the westernmost districts of the Alpujarra: Poqueira, Ferreira and, to a lesser degree, Jubiles. In Ugíjar and Andarax, very few chestnut trees are documented, and the crop harvested is not quantified. The volume of this type of nuts is measured in fanegas, cadahes and celemines. The former is the most widely used; by contrast, the cadahe and the celemín are employed much less frequently, though roughly to the same extent as each other: while all the references to the cadahe are located in the village of Pitres (taha of Jubiles),s60sthe celemín was used in the localities of Capileira (taha of Poqueira), Capileira, Aylaçar, Pórtugos (taha of Ferreira) and Trevélez (taha of Jubiles).s61sThe inventory of 1527 does not contain the equivalences of these three units measuring chestnuts, but it is known that, in general, a fanega of these types of products corresponded to 55.501 litress62sand a celemín of these crops to 4.625 litres,s63sso that 12 celemines make up a fanega. It may well be that the value of the cadahe for chestnuts was equal or similar to that of the cadahe for walnuts, whose exact correspondence appears elsewhere in this documentation, as we shall see below.sThe walnut harvest was smaller than that of chestnuts, and was concentrated mainly in the district of Poqueira, with some isolated references in that of Jubiles; in the tahas of Ferreira and Andarax there are hardly any allusions to walnut trees, and none at all in Ugíjar. Like the chestnut harvest, the walnut crop is expressed mainly in fanegas, and also in cadahes and celemines. In fact, only one reference to the celemín is recorded in the village of Alguazta (taha of Poqueira)s64sand another to the cadahe in the locality of Capileira (taha of Poqueira).s65sIn the latter, the correspondence mentioned between these two measures is found; thus, it appears that four cadahes are equal to 14 celemines,s66sthat is, a cadahe of walnuts is equivalent to 3.5 celemines. It should be emphasised that the similarity of the process of measuring chestnuts and walnuts is reflected in the similitude of the values of their measurements.sMeasures of irrigationsIn the Alpujarra, water was a scarce commodity that had to be strictly regulated. Its use in irrigation in pre-conquest times had been governed by a kind of customary law, so that the practices among the Moriscos had undergone few modifications since the Islamic period. A characteristic of this irrigation system was the complexity of the distribution of water, which differed in each village; it depended on the amount of water available, the irrigated area, the characteristics of the crops, and the hydraulic infrastructure already in place.sThe books of habices of 1527 and 1530 mention the right to water and indicate the measurements used in the irrigation of the properties linked to the ecclesiastical habices of the districts of Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax. Both manuscripts reveal that abundant waterways could be used freely; however, when water was scarce, it had to be regulated at local level.s67sIn the district of Poqueira and in some villages in other tahas, there are no references to its distribution, presumably due to its abundance there; these villages include Pitres, Capileira, Aylaçar, Mecina (taha of Ferreira), Trevélez, Cástaras (taha of Jubiles), Picena, Tarchelina, Nechite, Mecina Alfahar, Torrillas, Escariantes and Darrícal (taha of Ugíjar).sIn these documentary sources, while some measurements of irrigation refer to the volume of water used, others deal with the length of time of irrigation, or even to a combination of both of them. Measurements of Andalusi origin abound. In general, it was the length of time during which the water entered the irrigated farmland that was measured rather than the flow rate; measuring the flow of water through the river or through the irrigation canal would have been particularly difficult and would have had to rely on subjective criteria such as visual inspection.sRegarding the measurement of the volume of water, it was distributed to users by means of a wooden board with a series of apertures, which allowed the amount corresponding to each farmer to pass through.s68sThe measures recorded in both inventories concern the part of the water contained in ponds or deposits, either making explicit reference to them (‘half a pool of water’, ‘the entire font of water’), or referring to fractions of water: 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 2/3, 3/4, and so on.sIn relation to the length of time of irrigation, a rotational system was used. If there were few turns, they might last all day,s69sbut if there were many, they were divided into time slots that usually ran from dawn to dusk. The time limits were often dawn,s70snoon,s71searly afternoon (around 3 or 4 pm)s72sand sunset,s73sso they seem to have matched the times of Islamic prayers.s74sThe fact that these time limits can be identified in the two books of habices under study suggests that this division survived, to some extent, after the Castilian conquest. However, this documentation also shows that there were other times of the day that might mark the beginning and the end of a turn, since over time the distribution of water was gradually divided still further into a quarter of an hour of water, half an hour, an hour, an hour and a quarter, an hour and a half, two hours, half a day minus a quarter, a third of half a day, and so on.sThe most recurrent measure of irrigation in the book of habices of 1527 is the arroba of water, which was also the second most frequent in the inventory of 1530. In this context, the equivalence of this well-known term presents certain variations. On the one hand, some passages in the manuscript of 1530 relating to the villages of Fondón and Yniça (taha of Andarax) define the arroba as a quarter (understood to be a quarter of the day of irrigation).s75sHowever, the manuscript of 1527 is more precise, clarifying that in the locality of Mecina Bombarón (taha of Jubiles) the arroba constitutes a quarter of a quarter of the day, that is, an hour of water.s76sLikewise, a reference to the village of Júbar (taha of Ugíjar) specifies that four arrobas are equal to a whole day, from sunrise to sunset.s77sOn the other hand, in the locality of Paterna (taha of Andarax) there exists a variant that receives the name of arroba minmi, a measure of time that is equivalent to 1/16 of a day.s78sIn the book of habices of 1530, the most frequent unit of measurement of irrigation is the çumen, which had been the second most cited in the inventory of 1527. The exact equivalence of this measure is unknown, and several hypotheses have been proposed in relation to its meaning. Some define it as the amount of water corresponding to an azumbre (from the Arabic term al-ṯumn ‘eighth part’) needed to irrigate the area of a marjal,s79sthe azumbre being one eighth of an arroba of liquid, equivalent to 2.16 litres.s80sOthers relate it to the time of irrigation, proposing an etymological link to the Arabic ṯumn.s81sThe manuscript of 1530 sheds light on this issue by mentioning the existence of a variant çumenguanoz, used only in the village of Laroles (taha of Ugíjar) and equivalent to an hour and a half of irrigation.s82sThe fact that çumenguanoz is associated with a turn of irrigation is significant, since it suggests that the etymology of the term çumen is to be found in the Arabic word zaman (‘time’, ‘moment’); in turn, the variant çumenguanoz appears to correspond to an Arabic expression composed of three elements: zaman wa-nusf, whose literal translation would be ‘a time and a half’, very close to the meaning of ‘hour and a half’ that it presents in the text. If we accept this meaning for this variant, we can deduce that the çumen is equivalent to one hour of irrigation.s83sFinally, it should be noted that the book of habices of 1530 records other measurements of irrigation that were only employed in local contexts. Thus, the term farha (perhaps from the Arabic farga ‘emptying, measure of grain’) is attested in the village of Guarros (taha of Andarax), where it represents the equivalent of a day or a night of water every nine days.s84sThe word haba or its variant hapa (from the Arabic ḥabba ‘grain, small part of something’), equal to one hour of watering, is also registered only in a couple of references in the locality of Bayárcal (taha of Andarax).s85sLikewise, in a case documented in the village of Ugíjar, there is evidence of a measure called humuz,s86swhose equivalence is not specified, although its meaning can perhaps be deduced from its probable etymological connection to the Arabic jumus (‘fifth part’).s87sTherefore, the survival of certain lexical terms with etymological links to Arabic suggests that the Moriscos from the Alpujarran districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax maintained, to some extent at least, the Islamic system of distribution of irrigation. Some measures of irrigation and their variants are attested in the documentation under study. Among the commonly used units of measurement, the data preserved suggest that the arroba was predominant in the westernmost tahas of Poqueira, Ferreira and Jubiles, while the çumen was the most frequent to the east, in Ugíjar and Andarax. Curiously, the measures and variants of more restricted and local use are only documented in the districts of Ugíjar and Andarax. Of course, the units of measurement of water varied widely from area to area and sometimes corresponded to quantities that only locals knew.s88sConclusionssThe books of the Alpujarran habices of 1527 and 1530 offer valuable clues for the reconstruction of the measurement system used by the Moriscos of the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira, Jubiles, Ugíjar and Andarax, which can be broadly extrapolated to other parts of the same region and, in chronological terms, to almost the entire first half of the sixteenth century and possibly earlier. In general, both inventories provide us a glimpse of the dynamics of this rural and mountainous area, supplying a notable body of documentation on the agricultural measures employed by the Morisco community. However scarce the material studied may seem, it is more than enough to illustrate the coexistence of two measurement systems, Islamic and Castilian, in the area at this time.sIn contrast to the traditional Castilian concepts of measurement (feet, paces, cuartillas, barchillas, pounds and ounces), the data extracted from these documentary sources confirms the inheritance of al-Andalus reflected in the use of other measures (marjal, fanega, arroba, celemín, quintal, cola, cadahe, güezna, çumen, çumenguanoz, arroba minmi, farha, haba/hapa and humuz). The information compiled leaves no doubt that, four decades after the Christian conquest, the Alpujarra continued to employ measurements of Islamic origin, showing that compliance with Castilian legislation on weights and measures was only relative despite attempts by Castilian authorities to render the earlier system inoperative. On the one hand, the continuity in the use of the Islamic measurement system had an impact on the linguistic level with the preservation of Arabisms in the Castilian language. On the other hand, these documents constitute valuable testimonies of how the Islamic systems of agricultural production management survived de facto the Christian conquest and the subsequent imposition of new measurement systems. If we locate the data offered here in a broader context, evidence suggests that the transformations in the multiple aspects of the rural life of the Alpujarran Moriscos were not always immediate and in many cases the socio-economic structures inherited from the previous period continued. It is possible that in this particular area these changes were not as evident as they probably were in other regions of the kingdom of Granada. The reason for this survival in a region like the Alpujarra is perhaps the fact that its conquest had been negotiated rather than achieved by force of arms; therefore, the status quo was maintained, with minimal repopulation by Christian settlers, so that some traditional practices of the Morisco community endured until its definitive expulsion after the war of 1568.sIn the books of habices many measures are expressed in different units. The study of this material makes it possible to identify the units of measurement that were the most used, while others are mentioned very rarely, perhaps due to their strongly local character. Likewise, some units bearing the same name present variations in their value, even in locations that are close to each other. The comparison of these five districts reveals a greater use of certain units of measurement in some areas than in others. Among the units used to measure the area of farmland, the marjal is the most frequently recorded in irrigated agriculture; the marjal is also the most referenced in dryland in the tahas of Ferreira and Ugíjar, although the fanega is prevalent in Jubiles and Andarax. For their part, the foot and the pace, as longitudinal agrarian measures, appear only in the manuscript of 1527. Regarding agricultural measurements of weight or mass, in all the districts under study the arroba is the most common for measuring mulberry leaves and the only one used to measure olive leaves. With regard to measurements of volume, the oil harvest is expressed above all in arrobas in the inventory of 1527 and in colas in the list of 1530. In the production of olives, mostly documented in the tahas of Ugíjar and Andarax, the cadahe is the most frequently used measure. In contrast, the chestnut and walnut harvests are quantified only in the districts of Poqueira, Ferreira and Jubiles, and in both cases are usually measured in fanegas. And as for the water used for irrigation, the most cited unit of measurement is the arroba in the inventory of 1527 and the çumen in that of 1530.sTrying to find exact modern-today equivalents for historical measurements may be frustrating. In some of the cases discussed here, the data cannot be reliably confirmed and so for the moment they are still working hypotheses. However, what the present study shows is that the documentation of habices is a fundamental reference point for expanding our knowledge of the agrarian measures used in the Morisco period. Nevertheless, the range of measurements used in the Alpujarra was probably even wider than the sources analysed here have suggested, and so the conclusions of this study are by no means the final word on the subject.s

Journal

Rural HistoryCambridge University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2022

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