Trade and Traders in Muslim Spain: The Commercial Realignment of the Iberian Peninsula, 900–1500

Publication Year



Olivia Remy Constable, Ph.D. 1989.

This volume surveys Iberian international trade from the tenth to the fifteenth century, with particular emphasis on commerce in the Muslim period and on changes brought by Christian conquest of much of Muslim Spain in the thirteenth century. From the tenth to the thirteenth century, markets in the Iberian peninsula were closely linked to markets elsewhere in the Islamic world, and a strong east-west Mediterranean trading network linked Cairo with Cordoba. Following routes along the North African coast, Muslim and Jewish merchants carried eastern goods to Muslim Spain, returning eastwards with Andalusi exports. Situated at the edge of the Islamic west, Andalusi markets were also emporia for the transfer of commodities between the Islamic world and Christian Europe. After the thirteenth century the Iberian peninsula became part of the European economic sphere, its commercial realignment aided by the opening of the Straits of Gibraltar to Christian trade, and by the contemporary demise of the Muslim trading network in the Mediterranean.

  • The first comprehensive and scholarly account in English of the complexities of Muslim trade in medieval Spain, now in paperback
  • Of interest to Islamic, oriental, Jewish and medieval scholars, and to all serious students of the medieval world
  • The first volume in the Medieval Life and Thought series to tackle essentially eastern sources

    Table of Contents

    1. The market at the edge of the west
    2. Al-Andalus within the European network: geography, routes, and communications before the thirteenth century
    3. The merchant profession in Muslim Spain and the medieval Mediterranean
    4. The merchants in Andalusi trade
    5. Merchant business and Andalusi government authority
    6. Commodities and patterns of trade in the medieval Mediterranean world
    7. Andalusi exports before 1212
    8. Continuities and changes in Iberian exports after 1212
    9. Spain, northern Europe, and the Mediterranean in the late middle ages


“...Constable seeks to enrich, and in doing so she has rendered both medieval historians and their classroom audiences considerable service....Constable's book will undoubtedly be much cited.” Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

“...a valuable survey of commerce....the overall sweep is coherent and well written. Useful especially for the amount of Arabic material integrated with Western sources.” Choice

“This superbly written, fascinating book surveys the history of Iberian international commerce from the heyday of the Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba in the tenth century to the fall of the last Muslim stronghold, the minuscule Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, at the end of the fifteenth....With impressive skill, she synthesizes...diverse materials together with the studies of other scholars of medieval socioeconomic history into a coherent and compelling picture of commercial life over a period of longue durée.” SHOFAR

“With this fine book, based on an impressive array of Arabic and European vernacular and Latin sources, Remic Constable has effectively filled a significant lacuna in Mediterranean commercial history....In the field of Andalusi commercial history, this work is likely to be unsurpassed for many years to come.” Speculum-A Journal of Medieval Studies

“The book reflects an impressive amount of knowledge based on careful examination of primary sources and secondary works in several languages. It will be the standard reference book on this matter for years to come.” Journal of Economic History

“...this book is a mojor contribution to the difficult field of Muslim Spain as well as to the study of medieval Mediterranean trade.” International History Review

“At the root of the problem of delineating the economy of Muslim Spain has been an assumed lack of sources. Yet Olivia Remie Constable magnificently shows in her pioneering book that the sources do exist, many of them having come to light only gradually this century. Using material from the Jewish merchant community based in medieval Cairo, from Genoese notarial sources, from Arab geographers, and from treaties between Italian and Muslims she paints as complete a picture as one will perhaps ever be able to obtain of the roles of al-Andalus in the international trade networks, above all the maritime ones, of the eleventh, twelfth and early thirteenth centuries....[Constable] has already rendered a signal service to scholarship by exposing convincingly and authoritatively the lost commercial history of Moorish Spain.” David S.H. Abulafia, Business History Review

“The thoroughness of approach may best be exemplified by the manifold type of evidence adduced for Muslim Spain's exports of textiles.” Benjamin Z. Kedar, American Historical Review

“Constable provides a clear and well-researched study of medieval Iberian international trade from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries. This work is of special use to those interested in better understanding the economic aspects of Muslim Spanish society in relation to political transitions.” Religious Studies Review

Series Title
Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought
4th ser., 24
Cambridge University Press
Cambridge and New York
Cloth: 0521430755; paper: 9780521565035