Teresa (Starr) Green
In Janet Abu-Lughod's book she discusses both Genoa and Venice and their history of trade. Both Genoa and Venice where driving forces of trade in the Mediterranean trade. By the 13th century northern and central Italy's most powerful merchants had a tight grasp on trade in Europe and the Middle East. This rise was a result of the Crusades. Both cities tried to get a monopoly on trade but this soon lead to the fall of Genoa. Genoa had connections in Egypt which was big on slave trade: which was a crucial trade source in Egypt. When the monopoly was broken Venice could not find alternative routes and then lost to Venice. The bet Genoa had on the black sea was reversed by the destruction of the Mongol Empire, this in turn made the north less profitable. Genoa's monopoly on the Western Mediterranean showed small profits. As a last ditch effort Genoa tried to claim the Atlantic, but this was an epic fail. Venice gave its final fatal blow to Genoa by taking over their alliance to Egypt; this enabled Venice to take over Genoa.
All the events between Venice and Genoa give three major lessons: external factors, natural disasters and political conflict. The major external factors were alternative routes being made when land routes fell flat and the partiality for maritime routes proved to be beneficial for Mediterranean powers. The natural disasters that caused these cities issues where: black plague and famine. The political conflict between Genoa and Venice were vivid examples of market conflict and constant war.
I was shocked at how early commercial shipping was developed and how competitive cities got over this rather new phenomena.
What do you think was the driving force that lead Genoa to its demise. Do you think that it was preventable?