Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blog Entry 2

Venice and Genoa played a significant role as major ports connecting Europe with the rest of the world system particularly the Orient. These cities played a crucial role not only in trade but also in war, most importantly the crusades.

Genoa was used to battle. She had been conquered and re conquered several times until they received independence from the Roman Empire and established a self-ruled state. Battle hardened and with their prior naval abilities confirmed, Genoa “enthusiastically answered the call” of the pope for the first crusade.

Venice was put into a good position to become a trade leader. Venice came to Byzantium’s side and both were able to resist Charlemagne’s attempt of capture. As a result, Venice became “explicitly protected” providing Venice with the opportunity to become more powerful.

As a result of the crusades, both Genoa and Venice expanded their rule to cities in the Middle East making it easier for transporting goods. The crusades were also responsible for major gains in shipbuilding. Crusading leased hundreds of ships from Venice and Genoa and called for even larger and faster ships to be built. Due to plague, and economic problems Venice emerged as the hegemonic city in Europe over Genoa.

I found some questions very intriguing such as why did the Muslims think their culture was superior to Europeans? In Arab literature westerners were often referred to as “beasts superior in courage and fighting ardour but in nothing else.” Muslims held a notion that Europeans were barbaric, ruthless, and much less civilized then themselves. Such thought could be easily understood due to the ruthless nature of several crusade attacks. I would have liked Lughod to focus more on the Islamic Civilization and go into more detail concerning what exactly their culture had which led them to believe they were superior. From the reading I can only gather what made the Europeans less civilized. I also found it very intresting how the crusades had such a large impact on technology. The demand for faster, larger and stronger ships was so strong that the technology would not be surpassed for hundreds of years.

Sean McNamara

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