The evolution of global society has progressed in the aforementioned chapters of “Before European Hegemony”, as now Abu-Lughod explicates the migration of trade from Asian Silk Road to Mediterranean maritime. The trade among the Mediterranean at this time was dominated by the ports of Genoa and Venice. The two ports were often at war with each other as a result of their intense economic rivalry. Both had gained the majority of their power through reaping the benefits of the crusades, and both hoped to create an economic monopoly along the Mediterranean. However, the government’s involvement in trade was the main difference between the two city’s economic systems, and this was one of the key reasons that Venice eventually dominated Genoa in trade. In Genoa, the merchants were more free to trade as they pleased, and capitalism took its course, and in Venice, the state was highly involved in that condition of trade in the city. Another one of the key reasons for the shift of power, and resulting fall of Genoa was the shift of power along trade with Egypt. Genoa originally dominated trade with Egypt, because of its stronger influence in the slave trade, which was a driving force in Egyptian economics. When the slave trade died down and trade between Genoa and Egypt was lost, this gap in the market was quickly filled by Venice. This tie to Egypt was the gateway to the east, and all of the trade markets available there. As Venice overtook Genoa and trade, economic power shifted once again, and the economic core shifted farther west.
The idea of wars between Genoa and Venice was quite interesting to me. I would like to learn more about particular wars between the two. The conflicts themselves seemed interesting. The two were only ports of trade, but that the governments of the two would declare war with the other to create economic control would be a strange concept in itself.
My main question about this portion of the book is about the importance of the external factors on trade discussed. If certain factors had not existed or had happed at a different time, would the outcome of Venice over Genoa been different? For example, if the black plague or famine in Italy had not had existed, would Genoa have continued to overpower Venice in international trade?