Naval Contract by the Papacy against the Turks (1334)

The Aegean Sea became a new theatre of warfare between Crusaders and the Turks in the early fourteenth-century. In the following document, the papal camera contracts four fully equipped galleys for service in the first naval league against the Turks. The contract is dated March 7, 1334.

What follows is the final contract. { } = scored out in rough contract; {{ }} = deleted between rough and final contracts; < > = added in final contract. Only the most significant changes are given here.

In the year 1334, on the seventh day of March, in the presence of the reverend fathers in Christ, the lords Peter by God’s grace cardinal-priest of St. Stephen’s on the Coelian Hill, and Gasbert, archbishop of Arles and the lord pope’s chamberlain, and of me, notary, and of the undersigned witnesses, present in person, with lord Stephen de Pinu, the abbot of Le Dorat in the diocese of Limoges, and general vice-auditor of the court of the pope’s camera, sitting in judgement.

Singly and together, the noble men and knights lord Peter Medici of Toulon and Roger of Les Fosses, lord of Canet in the diocese of Frejus, and Rostangnus Eguezerii and Raymond Natalis of Marseilles, have undertaken a firm, free and unconstrained obligation, effectually guaranteeing it with themselves and their property. This solemn obligation has been received, and reciprocated, by the lord chamberlain, by the venerable lord Guido Radulphus, the lord pope’s treasurer, and by me, the undersigned notary, on behalf and in the name of our lord the pope’s camera { and for the lord king [of France]}. All excuses placed to one side, [the former have promised] to arm four sound and adequate galleys, that is to say, lord Peter Medici two galleys, lord Roger of Les Fosses one galley, and Rostangnus Eguezerii and R. Natalis of Marseilles together and with a firm commitment from each, one galley.

The contractors will have them properly prepared in the port of Marseilles {{or Toulon}}, at their own expense, cost and outlay, and in accordance with requirements and custom. Each [also] promised firmly, all excuses placed to one side, that when these hired galleys have been equipped and armed, as specified below, [they will be] at the island of Negroponte throughout the following month of May, for the price and conditions stated below, {{save for the obstacles and perils of the sea and hostile people}}. And it was solemnly agreed by the contracting parties that the hirers of the galleys . . . will see to it that in each and every one of the galleys there are between 174 and 180 sound and adequate oars, and sound and adequate oarsmen for each oar, under the supervision and command of {the person or persons appointed by the lord pope}.

It was also agreed that there will be retinues, scribes and other suitable officials in each and every one of the said galleys, in addition to adequate provisions and equipment, that is to say biscuit, sails, cordage, anchors, masts, sail-yards and steering oars, that is rudders. Each of the galleys will have 130 adequate cuirasses, 150 helmets, 180 shields, 130 gorgets, 4000 crossbow bolts called viretons of Genoa or their equivalents for each galley, 250 lances, 500 darts [= small javelins]. [There will be] twenty-five crossbowmen or marines (supersallientes) in each galley, not counting the ship’s manager (patronus). Each crossbowman will have two sound and adequate crossbows. This will be for five {{six}} months counting or starting from the day, on which the contract is finalised, as it pleases the lord pope, the person or persons appointed for the pope, or their lieutenants. Always provided, however, that [the pope] provides the payment for the galleys, as outlined below.

{The above-said [knights and] citizens or} the managers who are present in the galleys on their behalf, and the other officials and people in the galleys, who will be armed as stated above, will serve and obey the person or persons who take command (preerunt) on behalf of the pope {or the king or one of the two} for the said period, according to the distinction stated above and below. They will do whatever they are ordered to do. They will give battle on land and at sea, and they will not deviate from or contradict the orders, injunctions or wishes of the captain or captains echo are appointed by the pope {or by the king or one of the two}, as these are communicated to them, singly or together.

And on behalf of the lord our pope {and of the king}, in the presence and with the consent of the said citizens {and of me, the notary, as a public person}, the chamberlain and treasurer solemnly promised and agreed to give and pay, make over and assign, in good faith and without fraud, for each of the five {six} months for which they serve, as stated above, 600 Florentine gold florins per galley. And it was agreed in the contract that the person appointed to assume command as captain by the lord pope {and the king, or one of them} shall place a manager in each galley associated with him, who will exercise lordship over this galley, together with other people, as many as he pleases, at the expense of the pope. The lords chamberlain and treasurer also promised to make payment to the knights and citizens for the first three months, at the agreed rate, in the middle of the present month of March. This payment amounts to 7200 gold florins.

It was also agreed in the contract between the said parties, that the entire profit from the passage money, which the galleys make in the voyage from merchandise, and the other things which they carry, should be split down the middle, a half going to the managers or lords of the galleys, and the other half to the pope {and king}. The intention is that the pope’s half [should pay for] the things necessary for the voyage, saving the right of the admiral or captain, which he will exercise according to custom in such matters. {{Also that the said lords and managers should have [a third of] the spoils of the enemy, the remaining two thirds going to the camera of the pope.}} Again, it was agreed in the contract that the lords or managers of the galleys may not take on board merchandise, or anything else, without the agreement and licence of those representing the pope {or the king, or one of the two}, or their lieutenants.

[The hirers swore on the Gospels to abide by the contract, relinquishing any legal rights or privileges which might have shielded them against in penalties. They pleased themselves within the jurisdiction of the camera, agreed to hand over security at Marseilles or Toulon, and received a solemn threat of excommunication from the camera’s vice-auditor, should they fail to carry out the contract’s terms.]

Concerning each and all of these deeds , both the lords chamberlain and treasurer, and the knights and citizens asked us, the below-named notaries, to draw up one or more public instruments in accordance with the counsel of the wise, but with no alteration to the substance of the meaning. This was done at Avignon….And I, G. of Peyrilles in the diocese of Cahors, cleric of the lord pope’s camera, public notary by papal authority, was present at the said obligations, promises, and rendering of oaths…. When asked to do so, I signed and sealed with my usual seal this public instrument, which was written in our place by the hand of Arnald Jandonus, of the diocese of Cahors, public notary by papal authority.

This translation was first published in Documents on the Later Crusades, 1274 – 1580, edited and translated by Norman Housley (London, 1996). We thank Norman Housley for allowing us to republish this document.

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