Powerful and wealthy nobles like the Count of Empúries jealously guarded their rights to ships, crews, and passengers captured at sea off the coast of their territories and sometimes sold these rights for large amounts of money. The backdrop to this document is that the count of Ampurias [Empúries] had sold his lucrative rights to any ships, cargoes, or captives/slaves taken off the coast of his county to Guillem de Puig-orfila, a citizen of the major port of Collioure. The count was somewhat of a renegade bucking royal control of the waves and profiting from the location of his lands along the costa brava of the Mediterranean to seize vessels and their crews. Robert I. Burns, S. J. emphasizes that “the Count of Ampurias [Empúries] made his principality particularly attractive as a corsair center” and earlier in 1260 King Jaume explicitly warned the count not to attack Tunis since he was negotiating a truce.[1] In this document word had reached Guillem de Puig-orfila that the count was not abiding by his sale of profits from the ships he seized, and concerning one ship in particular; so Guillem was appointing a legal representative to appear before the count and object. The count may have believed he had the right to rescind or suspend his sale to de Puig-orfila since he had to defend the castle from attack during the War of the Sicilian Vespers (between Pere El Gran of the Crown of Aragon and Charles of Anjou of France), something that de Puig-orfila explains he was unable to do.

[1] Robert I. Burns, “Piracy: Islamic-Christian Interface in Conquered Valencia,” in his Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Crusader Kingdom of Valencia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 113.

Translated from the Latin by Rebecca Lynn Winer. Perpignan, France, Archives départementales des Pyrénées orientales (ADPO), Notarial Series 3E1 Register 15, folio 38v. This translation CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Appointment of a Legal Representative to Admonish Count Pons Hug of Empúries

19 February 1284

[Let it be known] that I, Guillem de Puig-orfila of Collioure, appoint and constitute as my certain and special legal representative, you, Guillem de Vallespir of Perpignan, juris peritus [legal expert with formal university training in the law], who knows about this in advance and has the official document [of legal proof] drafted and recorded by a notary against a person in [wrongful] possession to lay before the Lord Pons Hug, by the grace of God count of Empúries, requiring that he must restore to me those Saracens [Muslims], with all of their possessions and their ship, who were captured in the area of the sea port of Cadaqués,[1] the which the same lord count has not handed over, whether the said Saracens are from Minorca [and thus] permitted [to be captured] or subjects of the king. Since the said lord count sold all revenues, returns, income and every other right that the said lord count possessed concerning the castle of Cadaqués and the sea around it and also promised under a penalty of 1,000 morabatins that neither he himself nor another for him would receive or have received anything that pertained to the said castle or to me by reason of the castle or sea around Cadaqués within the time during which the sale was made to me– and if he were to do so he promised to give back and restore everything under the said penalty– and he swore to attend to and fulfill the aforementioned things and oppose them in nothing, just as is fully contained in the document of sale thenceforth made to me.

In addition, I appoint you Guillem de Vallespir as my legal representative to declare to the lord count that when danger threatens the aforementioned castle of Cadaqués, by reason of the war of the king of France and King Charles [of Anjou] and the king of Aragon, I myself will not be able to defend the said castle in the face of battle, the count should defend and guard the castle himself. Concerning each and every aforementioned thing that is to be proposed, required, and declared in the presence of the lord count I empower you, as said, to act as my legal representative and each and every aforementioned power is to be given to you to propose, require, and declare and do everything else that is in the aforementioned and the said charter, [that] I would be able to do if present, fixed and constant forever I will have everything as enacted or as the legal representative will do sent ahead, all my goods are placed under hypothec [pledge] and subject to all warning and precaution.

The witnesses are: Bernat Dalmau, juris peritus, of Perpignan, Berenger Oliba, Pons Gralini chaplain and B… Vinyer.

[1] On the costa brava on a bay in the middle of the Cap de Creus peninsula.

Related Primary Sources