Before European Hegemony by Janet L. Abu-Lughod begins to answer how 13th and 14th century trade became a world system that has evolved into our own system today and how European hegemony rose. We are able to piece together how studying the history of globalization is vital to our further understanding of our own world system and what is to follow firstly by understanding how Europe became the dominating force it has been since the 13th and 14th centuries.
The first modern world system that rose during that period prefaced the rise of Europe in the centuries to follow. It was the start of global trade, and thus, a modern world system. Trade expanded in subsystems from far-east Asia and the Middle East, where credit and paper money were already in use, to Europe. The assimilation of capitalistic ideas in Europe from the Middle East and Asia spread because Europe had just come out of a period of foreign control. Government was not a part of trade, enabling capitalism and the trade system to flourish. World cities became hubs for merchants to sell products and stop on long routes. Markets grew and even smaller cities were important trade points on roads between Asia and Europe. Europe's dive into the new global system was the starting point of Europe's supremacy. And just as the new trade system expanded in Europe, it began to fall across Asia and the Middle East. But Europe's rapid rise in the world system came at a cost: a cost to the rest of the system. For example, the growth of market cities with security, frequenting merchants, and prime location pushed other market cities over the edge by means of the dependency theory.
The scale on which original products were produced and sold during the 13th and 14th centuries is what intrigues me the most. The commodities and art were brought to such a broad spectrum of people and places. Although we have reached new levels and advances in our system today, it cannot be denied that our world of trade has commercialized and gone to mass production. Food, art, and clothing were all handcrafted. It is almost impossible to find something sold on such a broad scale that is its own, that is unique. The fact that world trade grew so rapidly to be able to achieve such a system is most astonishing.
The Middle East and of Asia contributed to the rise of Europe. But did it not work both ways? I find myself wondering it Europe's rise only furthered the fall of the East. If Europe had gotten the foot ahead.
I also wish that I heard more about the rest of Europe. The author spoke about few parts of Europe and expanded on those rather than giving more examples of places in Europe that furthered world trade.