Thursday, September 24, 2009

Before European Hegemony 3

The most effective trade route in the Middle East during the 13th and 14th centuries would have been the middle route. The middle route connected the Far East and Europe through the Persian Gulf as well as other key cities, such as Baghdad. However as obstacles appeared othere routes then became ulitiled, including the Red Sea. At one point in history these two bodies of water were controlled by the same power. Once they broke apart the two waterways became rivals, each wanting to have more trade and goods passing through them. The Persian Gulf initially recieved more trade because of clamer seas and more conviently located ports. All that would begin to change after the Mongols invaded and took over the Islam capital, Baghdad. Baghdad no longer was a glorious city for trade, instead it became a military Mongol controlled city. Another factor contributing to the loss of trade in the Persian Gulf comes from disunification between Iraq and Persia and the fact that the Christians had lost their territory along the Syrian coast. The route also started failing because of the economics involved. Once the economies started weakening so did the traders. Due to hardships befallen to the middle route and the Persian Gulf the Red Sea became a more viable option. Egypt controlled the Red Sea at this point and took full advantage, taxing the traders. Egypt controlled a lot of territory at this point including including most of Syria and they held the gateway between China and India. Europeans however were not allowed to cross through Egypt, although they were allowed to trade in the port cities. Europeans were very strictly monitored becasue they were still infidels. Egypt imported slaves to help protect their terrioties, and wanted a monopoly in trade. Up until the 15th century they held onto their monopoly, so in the long run Egypt and the Red Sea outlasted and had more trade than Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

What I found interesting about the Middle East in this section of the book was how dominant Egypt was for international trade during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. Not knowing much about Middle Eastern history myself, I never realized how much influence Egypt had in the world system. I never realized how much power they wielded when it came to trade. In todays world they are a smaller country, so thinking they had a powerful government and a lot of territory is suprising. I also found it interesting in the way Egypt handled the Europeans regarding their trading abilities. Europeans could come to the port citites along Egypt's borders but were not allowed to travel through Egypt on land. Middle Eastern nations had a complex relationship with the Europeans, needing them for trade purposes, yet not liking them as people because of the Crusade Wars.

I wonder what would have happened had the Arabian Peninsula remained united throughout these centuries. When the Arabian Peninsula was united the Persian Gulf and Red Sea were not competing for trade but instead were both beneficial to the Arabs, Egyptians, and Persians. Had these groups remained together who knows what trade would have looked like during these centuries. Maybe trade would have been the same with heavy taxes and eventual competing between the two bodies of water. Or maybe a few people would have totally dominated international trade. With the middle route becoming extinct and the eventual fall of the northern route, trade by sea was becoming more neccessary. Would these powers have remained a monopoly in trade, and would they still be dominating trade in those regions today.

No comments:

Post a Comment