Friday, September 18, 2009

Week 2 Commentary

In the 13th century, Genoa and Venice were found to be the major trading cities. Their location gave them an advantage in reticulating out to the Western World and to the Orient and Muslim World, respectively. These two powerhouses weren't allies though, they would try to overcome one another and take over each others sea routes. However, they each had a weakness that was the others strength which made it difficult for Genoa or Venice to become the sole powerhouse in the 13th century. These two cities were strong on water. They used warships and merchant marines to protect their cargo from getting attacked. These are some of the technologies we use today to protect ourselves on the sea. At the end, Genoa had fallen due to many reasons one being the Black Death. But it isn't to say that Venice wasn't affected by the Black Death but Venice had its state to provide subsidies and insurance to its merchants. "Thus, state 'socialism' or the 'welfare state' tided Venice over the shoals of depopulation and economic contraction on which Genoa foundered". It was around then when the Mongols conquest started in the East. Mongols had many rulers and when the rulings were stable their routes were also stable and strong, but when the rulers were not stable, the routes also followed the lead. And the traders would then find other means to trade. When Baghdad fell; a city of culture, trade, and religion, the middle route has also tumbled.

I find it interesting how the two strongest cities underwent the same situations, and no matter how advanced or how much money it accumulated, it was not able to protect itself from the Black Death. And the way Venice survived with the governments help compared to the downfall of independent Genoa, proves that one can't do anything alone. The state was able to protect Venice's merchants with subsidies and insurance from the provision of collective goods.

As Venice and Genoa were strongest in their time in the 13th century.. would the current era be our strongest and in a couple of decades or centuries would the core countries now be trampled upon and known as peripheral countries where students would be able to read about our downfall in history books. By reading about these cities and countries that prospered in their time and people now not knowing about this until they read about it makes me wonder if there will be a time when people will not know that U.S. was one of the strongest countries.

Angela Han

1 comment:

  1. I think that you bring up a very interesting point when you mention the possibility of a pending downfall of the current core countries, paralleling the downfall of the core countries of the past. While this is an interesting prospect, I would like to think that, given today's technological advances in communication, as well as the advancements in sophisticated documentation, that the core countries' current status might be an indication that our current status will not be overshadowed in future decades or centuries.

    However, I cannot predict the advancements that might come in future centuries or decades, just as the ancient Venetians and Genovians could not have predicted the advancements in communication since their time. In light of this, the expansion of globalization and the world market, in addition to the advancements in documentation and communcation might help the historical documentation of the US (and other core countries) as a current world power.

    --Erika Moul