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The 14th Century

Jaime II of Mallorca (1276-1286 and 1295-1311)

1300 was an important year for Mallorca as Jaime started work on improving the island's economy, government, laws and taxation; he even introduced a new currency. New industries were encouraged in Palma while warehouses were opened across the Mediterranean to reduce taxes, and trade increased. Jaime also commissioned eleven new villages of 100 houses each and allowed them to hold markets. Families were offered land to build a house and the use 25 acres with the idea of increasing the population. While the successful families put money in the King's coffers, some families failed and returned to the mainland.

 

mal;lorca in the 14th Century
Bellver Castle on the outskirts of Palma.
One of Jaime's greatest supporters was the Knights Templar, the military/religious order that was acting as Europe's banker. When the French Knights were arrested, tortured and burnt at the stake for heresy by Phillip IV in 1307, Pope Clement V called on the rest of the Kings across Europe to do the same. While Jaime II disbanded the Order he did confiscate their properties, including Pollença and Randa, and their money. At the same time he commissioned the upgrading of the Royal Palace, the building of Bellver Castle and the Holy Trinity Chapel for his tomb; the chapel would eventually grow into the Cathedral. Smaller palaces followed at Sineu , Valldemossa and Manacor and while Alaró , Pollença and Santueri Castles were repaired, a new castle at Capdepera was built and walls around Alcúdia . Despite the Templar's money, expenditure was greater than income and pensions were sold to the barons in return for annual payments for life.
mal;lorca in the 14th Century
Sancho's Castle in Valldemossa.

King Sancho 'the Peaceful' (1311-1324)

Jaime died in 1311 and his second son, Sancho was crowned King. While he tried to even out the taxes between the city and the country, he penalised the Jews. Asthma plagued Sancho throughout his life and he spent most of his time in Valldemossa in the mountains. He died young in 1324 and his nine-year old nephew, Jaime III became King.

Jaime III of Mallorca, the 'Rash' or the 'Unfortunate' (1324-1344)

The Mallorca that Jaime inherited was in trouble and it relied on slaves to survive (one in four were slaves). Around 50,000 people lived in Palma but many were leaving the disease ridden city rather than trying to scrape a living of the land. 20,000 were barely surviving in the villages and the island was importing food, making it dependant on maritime trade.

Sancho had also backed the invasion of Sardinia in exchange for trading rights just before he died but the plan backfired when the Genoese went to war with Aragon over the island. They raided Mallorca and Minorca in 1332, unsettling trade in the Mediterranean.

Tensions between Mallorca and Aragon grew and when Jaime refused to do as Peter of Aragon wanted, he returned to Mallorca to prepare for war. The following spring Peter's fleet landed at Santa Ponça and quickly routed the Mallorcans, taking Palma and the castles of Bellver, Alaró and Santueri without a fight. Jaime hid in Pollença Castle before escaping for Perpignan after a ten week siege; the castle was always as Castell del Rei, or the King's Castle afterwards. Check out the Battle of Llucmajor webpage to discover the rest of Jaime the Unfortunate's story.

mal;lorca in the 14th Century
The statue in Llucmajor remembers
Jaime III's death.
mal;lorca in the 14th Century
The Holy Trinity Chapel of Palma's Cathedral is the last
resting place of Jaime II and Jaime III.

Jaime's 11 year-old son, Jaime IV, was taken to the mainland where he was held on squalid conditions until sympathetic nobles helped him to escape in 1362.

Mallorcan plots failed to help Jaime but he never lost his desire to recover his Crown after making a final attempt to invade Catalonia in 1374, Jaime died.

While Elizabeth inherited the title of Queen of Mallorca, she died without issue in 1404 bringing to an end the House of Mallorca.

Peter IV of Aragon and Peter I of Mallorca (1344 to 1387)

The Kingdom of Mallorca came under the Crown of Aragon in 1344 and while it benefited from increased trade, it had to keep sending money, men and ships to help Aragon's wars across the Mediterranean. They continued until 1365 and while Palma's dockyard was kept busy building over 140 warships, Mallorca's debts were ten times its annual income.

Mallorca's mapping school had become well known in the 14th Century and Abraham Cresques's Catalan Atlas of 1375 became famous across Europe; see the webpage on Mallorcan Map Makers to learn more.

mal;lorca in the 14th Century
King Peter the Magnamimous.
mal;lorca in the 14th Century
King John the Hunter.

John I of Aragon, 'the Hunter' (1387-1396)

Peter was succeeded by John I, 'the Hunter' and immediately replaced his father's supporters with his own men, including the Grand and Central Council members in Palma. The newcomers immediately raised taxes but anyone who complained were classes as traitors. Someone was going to suffer but the question was who?

On 2 August 1391 landowners descended on Palma where they were joined by tradesmen and the lower classes. The Dominican friars put the blame for the island's problems on the Jews and the mob retaliated by sacking the Jewish quarter in Calle Major, killing around 300; check out the Inquisition webpage for more information.

The Governor calmed the situation with empty promises so 7,000 landowners returned to Palma on 2 October, forcing the Council members to take refuge in Bellver Castle. When the King heard of the trouble, he sacked the Governor and the Council members; executed fifteen rebel leaders and fined Mallorca for the trouble it had caused. Peace had been restored but fines had only increased the island's debt and its problems.

At the same time a disagreement between two barons in Palma escalated into a vicious rivalry. Two families lived either side of the Riera River which ran down the Ramblas and Born and faction members stopped everyone from crossing the bridges, cutting the city in two. While the city tried to crackdown on the problem, thefts, robberies and brawls continued for ten years.

There were also problems at sea as pirates robbed passing ships and raided the island, stopping people living near the coast. In July 1392 five Moorish ships even attacked Palma's quay, torching one ship before sailing away with three others. A squadron of ten ships was put together and in October carried out reprisals on Moorish shipping. Mallorca also licensed pirates and part of their treasure was given to their government.

In July 1395, there was a plague on the mainland and King John escaped to Mallorca with Queen Violant and his court. They landed at Sóller and spent a week in Valldemossa while Bellver Castle prepared for them but the court's extravagant lifestyle angered the people of Palma. They were even more upset when they the royal couple left after four months without visiting the City; anyone who complained found themselves in prison. The only positive impact of King John's visit was that he chartered the island's trade guilds.

Martin, 'the Humane' (1396-1410)

John died while out hunting in 1396 and he was succeeded by his brother Martin, 'the Humane'. He sent his Viceroy, Hugh of Anglesola, to Mallorca with orders to reform the island's administration but he had little success, the barons were too busy looking after their own interests. Mallorca's wealth was tied up in pensions and debt payments and while the only way to cover costs was to raise taxes. Unfortunately, there was nothing to invest in and the economy was stagnant.

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