Thursday, September 17, 2009

Before European Hegemony 2

The Italian port cities of Venice and Genoa were key places in the international trade organization. These two cities from the start of the Crusades were rivals, always trying to gain the upper hand on eastern trade. The crusades divdided the citites at one point with Genoa willing to answer the call of the Pope and recapture Palestine and Jerusalem while Venice, already having favorable relations with much of the Middle East was a little more reluctant to cause disturbances. However once the Europeans had control in the region Venice then decided to step up and help out. Both Genoa and Venice given parts of the territory and even more favorabletrade conditions. Later on however, once the Middle Easterners reclaimed their territories a new plan was formed. Venice went against the plan and instead captured the finest trade city in the world, Constantinople, however as the divided up the city they purposefully left out Genoa. These new territories would make European trade increase because some Europeans now lived in the Middle East and they wanted European goods. The cities of Venice and Genoa also had differenced in terms of capitalism. Venice as a newer city relied on government investment while Genoa had more individual investment. Up until the Bubonic plague Vencice and Genoa were key trading cities in Europe however both lost over half of their population to the Bubonic plauge resulting in the loss of trade. After the craze Venice and Genoa subsided the middle east was focused on. According to Abu-Lugod there were three routes to the east; the middle, north, and south route. These three land routes were used to gain access into the Orient. These routes characterized the middle eastern trade options during the thirteenth and fourteenth century. As most items are in this book, these trade routes were connected and eventually they disappeared as well.

What I found to be intersting so far in the novel is how most of Europe had to use force and the capturing of other territories in order for trade to progress with the Middle East. Up until around the thirteenth century trade mainly focused on the Orient and the Middle East. After the Crusade battles of course the Middle East would not want to trade extensively with the Europeans. The Europeans stole their cities, burned down their houses, and murdered innocent people. Trade between the two regions really took off once Europe had captured cities in the Middle East and could foster trade between the two regions themselves. Had the Crusades never happened I wonder how the history of world trade wiuld have progressed. Would Europe ever have become the global system remaining today.

Still relating to the theme above I wonder if Europe ever wold have become as dominatn without the Crusade wars. Although other factors led to European trading like the fall of the Orient trading empire, and geographic routes and political ties changing, would Europe have become such a success without first establishing a large trade market themselves. I think Europe might not be as dominant today had they not fostered a larger trade volume with the Middle East themselves. Had Europe never gotten a foothold on that part of the world, even for a little bit I am not sure if the Middle East ever wiuld have taken the initative to start more heavily trading with Europe themselves. I also wonder if other parties, including Genoa had never recaptured Constantinople would Venice have declined so drastically in such a short period of time. My opinion would be yes because even if Constantinople remained in Venice hand the Bubonic plague decimated the city as well. Even more Venicians would have died leading to their port city still losing power

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