Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Genoa and Venice

In this section, Janet Abu-Lughod mostly focused on the two major connector cities between Europe and the Far East. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Genoa and Venice played a crucial role in the economy by serving as the most important trade posts and naval powers in that area, especially when he crusades demanded military protection, large ships, and more ships. Genoa and Venice both contributed to trade during the crusades, but they didn't start off the same.

Genoa began as a major city of trade and influence under the rule of Constantinople (6th-10th centuries). Eventually gaining its independence a century later, Genoa continued to expand their trade through the western Mediterranean region. Genoa joined the crusades under the pope, trading slaves with Egypt and prospered. Venice soon took over this tie, and Genoa was left to fall due to a lack of the ability to provide slaves for trade with Egypt and Black Death. But Venice had begun trading before the crusades. After being granted trading privileges and toll exemptions by the Byzantine Emperor, Venice surfaced as a vital port in east Mediterranean area and surpassed Genoa after the Black Death struck.

What I found most interesting about this section was the ideas people had about their respective opposing side of Eurasia. It confused me how absurd the ideas sounded, but it made me wonder if we, as humans, see societies other than the one's we've experienced intimately, with a distorted perspective. I was also intrigued to learn about the origin of capitalism.

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