This article explores the issue of grain piracy during the famine year of 1333–1334 as a means to understanding the identity of medieval Barcelona within a broader Mediterranean context. At the same time that municipal authorities worked to prevent the theft of their own grain shipments, they used the famine as justification for their own piratical actions. The relationship between Barcelona and piracy underlines the independent political agency of Iberian cities in the later Middle Ages, illustrating the permeable borders between law and outlawry, and between public and private interests, as cities attempted to draw borders on a borderless sea.

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