Wednesday, September 23, 2009

European and Islamic trade, week 4

The Middle East is very fascinating to me still, due to my lack of exposure to the history. Regardless, it is clear that the Middle East was a crucial component of global. Trade between the Chinese and Persians began early as 671 and linked the West to the East, thus facilitating global trade. The Islamic Empire had many disputes among Muslims from different tribes and power struggles ensued for the entirety of the empire. While fighting occurred within the empire, Muslims also had to fight against foreign threats, like the Mongols and the Crusades.

During the crusades, papal injunction prohibited trade by Europeans with the “infidels” of the Muslim world. Although merchants did not obey this, the loss of Acre as a Crusader colony made the enforcement stricter. After the fall of Baghdad and rise of Cairo as the trading center of the Muslim world, it appears that the Muslim authorities also discouraged trade, through heavy taxes on European merchants and outright ban of European traders in Egypt.

Why would the authorities of both European and Islamic empires discourage trade with one another, especially due to the economic benefits of trade? Obviously, religious and political motives are behind such regulation, but I would assume that the pros would outweigh the cons. If Europeans were not allowed to trade with Muslims, they could not have access to the goods from the East. The Middle East was perhaps attempting to focus on conflicts within their empire, rather then trading with foreign lands; however, still limited the economic profits of trade with the Europeans.

1 comment:

  1. I thought the fact that the Middle East placed such strict restrictions on Europe to be a little unclear too. Although the two systems have had problems in the past, I would think their economy was more important than pride. However the only thing I can think of why Middle Easterners did not trade as much with Europeans was beacause they didn't have to. Europe wanted the Orients goods and so did they, and they had a strong relationship with the Orient up until this point. Maybe they felt they did not need European trade.