Friday, September 18, 2009

Economy and Trade in Nazi Germany

The economy of Nazi Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler (1933-1945) developed a hothouse prosperity. The economic system in Nazi Germany was mainly supported by high government subsidies that were favored by Hitler himself. Adolf Hitler believed that "the economy is of something of secondary importance." Therefore, he left the economic duties out of his political platform when he first introduced himself to Germany and the western world. The Nazis rose to power during a time period of high unemployment in Germany, but they later gained full employment due to massive rearmament.

Here is a basic synopsis of the Nazi German trade:

  • Discouraged trade with countries outside the German sphere of influence.
  • Make southern Europe largely dependent on Germany.
  • Developed strong relationships with big business.
  • Abolished trade unions.
  • High exports of synthetic rubber, steel, and textile.
  • Limit trade partners
  • A number of bilateral trade agreements were signed between Germany and other European countries (mostly countries located in Southern and South-Eastern Europe) during the 1930

By the late 1930s, the aims of German trade policy were to use economic and political power to make the countries of Southern Europe and the Balkans dependent on Germany. The German economy would draw its raw materials from that region, and the countries in question would receive German manufactured goods in exchange. Already in 1938, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece transacted 50% of all their foreign trade with Germany.
Throughout the 1930s, German businesses were encouraged to form cartels, monopolies and oligopolies, whose interests were then protected by the state.
In his book, Big Business in the Third Reich, Arthur Schweitzer notes that:

"Monopolistic price fixing became the rule in most industries, and cartels were no longer confined to the heavy or large-scale industries. [...] Cartels and quasi-cartels (whether of big business or small) set prices, engaged in limiting production, and agreed to divide markets and classify consumers in order to realize a monopoly profit."


-Shaquel Smith

Geona and Venice-Blog 2

The readings this week discussed the crucial roles of Genoa and Venice in the economy and their naval powers across the Mediterranean during the 12-13th centuries. Abu-Lughod explains the differences in origin from the two cities. First, Genoa was under the rule of Constantinople from the 6th-10th centuries and gained independence in the 11th century. In addition, Genoa was eager to take part in the Crusades due to the Pope’s vision for the conquest of Palestine. Genoa commanded the west of the Mediterranean, trading with Muslims of Spain and North Africa. On the other hand, Venice was already effective in commerce before the Crusades began because the Byzantine Emperor granted Venice full trading privileges and exemptions from tolls. Venice played more of a role in the eastern Mediterranean basin.
After the Crusades, both cities reaped benefits and expanded their trading routes. However, Genoa lost ties with Egypt and when this connection ceased to exist, Venice took control. Abu-Lughod also explains technological advances at sea and the need for more military protection from states. The Crusades were a factor in a heightened demand for more ships and bigger ships. This called for a regulatory role from the state. Finally, Abu-Lughod examines the “great debate” on the origins of capitalism. She provides a few arguments that support the view of capitalism being shown through the Genoa and Venice economic systems. However, Abu-Lughod agrees more with the view, that Genoa and Venice could be considered “pre-capitalist.” This debate is interesting because I do not see how one would could disregard the two cities as not having capitalistic systems, when Abu-Lughod talks about how both cities used a pubic debt system. Citizens voluntarily lent money to the commune and were granted stocks that paid interest. The use of this system definitely generated more profit than any one individual could provide, which in part is the definition Abu-Lughod uses to define capitalism.

Abu-Lughod Week 2

18 September 2009
Abu-Lughod Reading pp. 102 – 247
The beginning of this week’s readings focused on the two main European ports, Genoa and Venice, and their impact on the world trade, and later segueing into the Middle Eastern part of the world system. Genoa and Venice were basically the connectors between Europe and the Far East and caused Europe to become engrossed in the pre-established world system. Venice and Genoa rose with their trade empires and were also quite competitive. As their technologies advanced, they were able to expand further and further and strengthen their position as the middlemen of the world system. In the end, Venice proved a more powerful entity than Genoa. Genoa had firm roots in the Black Sea and Egypt due to their supply of slaves. Egypt was their true root to the East but when Genoa was no longer able to supply the slaves, Venice stepped in and took Genoa’s place. This along with the Black Death’s detrimental effect on Genoa caused Venice to become superior. As the Europeans looked at the East with elaborate myths and a bit of romantic awe, the Mideast looked back on them as animals. In the Mideast, the Pax Mongolica is what made the region safe enough for travelling merchants which is one of the keys that allowed Europe to enter the world system. These routes were less dependable after the death of Genghis Khan but this ensured Europe was safe from Mongol invasion. The combination of the bubonic plague and the less safe Mideast trade routes on account of the fall of the Mongol Empire, caused a momentary pause in the world system established in the 13th and 14th centuries.
What I found particularly interesting from these readings was the religious relationship between the West and East. At this point in time, the West grew particularly devout to their Christianity and with papal commands, grew intent on spreading it East with their trade. The Crusades began during this time. Genoa jumped on the opportunity to send their men abroad in search for more people to trade with, but Venice was more hesitant on entering the Crusades. They waited until it was a sure victory which proved a smart move as they were rewarded with control of the route to the East, a more generous win than what was given to the Genoans. I found it particularly interesting that both these Mariner states went into the Crusades for their own secular purposes in trade as opposed to the papal purpose of the war as spreading Christianity to the Muslims and others to the East.
Another point that was surprising was the mythology and rumors going on between the two sections of the world. Through the Crusades, the East thought the Europeans were animals since they killed and flattened towns so ruthlessly. The West on the other hand saw the East with such awe and spoke of it with rumors of absurd deformed men in India and magical trees and other things in China. The trade between the two opened up this room for their imaginations to run wild. But I wonder why now that they had this direct contact, they didn’t have more concrete ideas to the products and people to the Far East. Their ideas were completely unrealistic and I’d imagine through word of mouth that these merchants and travelers could give a more accurate depiction of the realities.

Week 2

In this week’s readings Abu-Lughod focuses mainly on the “merchant mariners” of Genoa and Venice and stresses their importance in connecting Europe to the Eastern trading system. Both cities became involved with the Orient through the Crusades. Although these battles arose in deep seated conflict, they eventually permanently linked the East and West to each other. Abu-Lughod emphasizes the reluctance of the Muslim world to interact with the European “barbarians”. For instance, Cipolla states, “…Europe was an underdeveloped area in relations to the major city centers of civilization at the time…clearly a land of barbarians”(106). This characterization of the European inhabitants was not far-fetched. For example, in 1098 Crusaders destroyed the town of Ma’arra and practiced cannibalism, “boling pagan adults in cooking pots” (107). With these inhumane practices the Europeans lived up to Islamic myths that Westerners were nothing but animals.
Once Venetian and Genoese ports began to expand and grow, it was the beginning of the development of a new world system, with Europe at its head. Although not yet trading fully in the East, by the thirteenth century the main centers of European trade were stationed in Italy—Venice, Genoa, Florence, and Milan. Although prosperous at the time, Abu-Lughod next traces the reasons for the economic collapse of the system—the Bubonic plague. The loss of life and changes in the port system really effected the economy. But Abu-Lughod also mentions that other factors following the Black Death, such as political factionalism, poor food growth, and communal expenditures, also greatly wronged the once thriving economy.
In these readings I found the “New Technologies at Sea” extremely interesting because I did not (and still do not) know much about ships or naval technology. I enjoyed when Abu-Lughod explained the three ships the Italians used—the sailing ship (navis or bucius), the galley ( galea, galeotis, or sagitta), and a cross between these two called the tarida. Additionally, regarding the Italian merchants I really found it fascinating that they used methods relatable to modern day economics. Reading about the fraterna, the commenda or colleganza, and the stans emphasized the advancement of the people at this time. Finally, I enjoyed the discussion of the relationship between the Mongols and the Mamluk state in Egypt; I had learned about them separately but had never known about the connections between the two. One of the questions I had about these readings was the sometimes hostile relationship between Venice and Genoa. There are some instances of massacres and battles between the two ports which had many casualties. I wish Abu-Lughod focused on this more; how could such ports so close in distance survive after incidents like this? Furthermore, with the kind of “advanced” economy they had for this time, how did capital keep flowing with these sporadic war time eruptions?

Katie Manbachi

Mid East, Genoa, Venice

In the week’s reading, Abu- Lughod explains the importance of Venice and Genoa in Europe’s short-lived success over the Middle East. Abu-Lughod explains how it was that Europe came out on-top; first, Venice and Genoa were rivals, as both made for excellent port cities. The struggle for power between Venice and Genoa lasted for decades; one always trying to get the upper hand on eastern trade. The Crusades was one event which really separated one city from the other. Genoa, in contrast to Venice, recaptured Palestine and Jerusalem. Yet, Venice, who had better relations in the mid-east, was much more reluctant to cause conflict in Palestine. Venice eventually did answer the pope’s call only after it was clear that the West (Genoa) had control over the region. Venice and Genoa were both rewarded with territory; power-hungry Venice continued to feed until Constantinople was in its own reach.
Having control of Constantinople gave Europe an edge. Europeans were more able to control trade in the East, by directing trade and calling for European goods/ controlling the sale of Eastern goods to Europe. These two cities were very influential to Europe and were probably the most powerful cities in the west at the time. When the Bubonic plague hit, both of the trading cities lost masses of their population, undoing many of the developments which occurred when the cities were on-top.
One of the more interesting things Abu-Lughod writes about is Europe’s reliance on force and war. I think the Pax Mongolica era that Abu-Lughod describes portrays and exemplifies Europe’s long history of conquest through battle. If the Crusades hadn’t been so successful, would Europe have found another way to go about the process of gaining economic success? Could that possibly have started a completely different era of European idealism, possibly influencing the ways of Kings for centuries to come? Or, would the Middle East have continued to trade so much to the point that they became the most dominant and wealthy region in the World System? Had the Crusades not been so successful, I believe our world today, and our history would be infeasible.
There is one thing I am slightly confused about. We discussed in class, that the Middle Easterners believed they were better than the Westerners. Many people said yes, because they were ‘more civilized, and had more luxurious goods.” I was wondering, what about spices, silks, and superficial items actually makes a “better culture?” These things are so unnecessary, and hardly make a difference in life except for maybe showing off money. Also, what does this question “Did the people of the middle east believe they were better than the west?” really relate to the overriding topic of the book we’re examining?

Venice, Genoa and Mongols

When the dark ages fell upon Europe, Italy remained almost completely unaffected. Venice and Genoa were the frontiers for trade and commerce that began to flourish in the 12th and 13th centuries. They were the gates to the trading that took place in the Byzantine area and the Far East (through trading connections, however, not directly). New technology was the springboard for such trading expansion; for example, ships were larger and more efficient, with more sails and cargo room. Some say that the Italian merchants could be credited with the forming the crude beginning of capitalism, which I will address later. The black plague caused the mid-century depression, which eradicated a large percent of Europe’s population. This, in turn, sometimes affected the sea ports, which were the center of commercial trade. Other routes to the east, however, were opening up. There were three roots to the east; the northern route, which was helped by the protection of the Mongols along the Khan trail; the middle root, through the Byzantine area; and the southern route through Egypt. The Mongols were credited with upholding the safety of the trail that lead through the northern passage, and allowing for the merchants to cross into China.
I found it extremely interesting that some people will credit the Italians with forming the basis of capitalism. I think that I agree, also. The way the Italians globalized the market with trading and through opening the door to the East from the Western world. However, I’ve never heard anything about the roots of capitalism or about any other potential creators, so I don’t know how to justify this information or how to look deeper. Also, was it the Italians themselves who could be credited, or is it the time period in general?
Additionally, with transportation so slow from place to place, how did it sustain a active market; in other words, were there really that many merchants, because markets couldn’t be constantly active? I guess I am just confused of how this could all take place when it took 150 some days to get across the world? Any thoughts, I’d love to hear your input…

Venice and Genoa, the Rise and Fall

The struggle to be a core country on the map of the world was always an issue. For Venice and Genoa this struggle was in themselves. Trade in the thirteenth century was normally very exclusive to a general area. Asia only traded with Asia, and the same with Europe. The Crusades is what made these two places truly find their niche in the trading world. The crusades brought new technology and many trade advancements that helped Venice and Genoa have the ability to be a route of trade and the connector of Asia and Europe. They became great naval powers.

This newfound importance, however, brought issues. Genoa fell for the reason that her port was now being invaded. It was rebuilt and re-destroyed, but it never grew to be the power it once was. It’s constant wars with the Muslims since the 10th century also did not benefit their need to regain strength. What was once a key trader and the Northeast Passage, was now just another piece of history. Venice, on the other hand, was never that interested in quarrel. Venice became a port of interest to traders, but it never became the important trade location it always wanted to be. Venice did not have a vast variety of goods, keeping them from being a top exporter.

Plague hit these two places hard. With the trade and the travel, diseases took over and killed off more than half of the populations of Venice and Genoa. There were fewer traders, less trade and less good. The power and potential of Venice and Genoa was cut short, but they still made their impact on trade routes.

Plague and disease has been known throughout history to be a “stopper” of potential. If the problems that Genoa and Venice experienced never occurred, how might their future be different? William McNeil believed that disease and mass death created a natural equilibrium that it had to happen in order to calm to potential to monopolize in certain places. The plague put a damper on world trade for some time, however it was not finished. World trade would once again revive and the core countries of the world would come together.

-Carly Porath

Week 2 Commentary

In the beginning parts of chapter four, Abu-Lughod leads us through an in-depth discussion of the two port cities and then trading powers - Genoa and Venice. Her discussion covers the Crusades that took place between the eleventh and tweleth centuries, as well as the impact of the Crusads on Venice and Genoa, eventually leading to the downfall of the Genovian power. Other factors included Genova's unfortunate ties to Egypt and the Black Death, and subsequently, Venice gained access to core trade routes, including to countries in the middle and far east, which held many desired luzury items. Lastly, the Crusades versus the Muslims brings about several economical, political, and sociological issues, namely between the "barbarians" and the "franks." Many of these issues, as well as the cultual landscape of both groups in general, led to the notion of Muslim superiority over the barbarians.

These notions of Muslim superiority felt by the Islamic people at this time were perpetuated by numerous factors that Abu-Lughod communicates on pages 106-109. First, in relation to the notions and levels of civilization in Europe at that time, Abu-Lughod suggests that "the Crusaders were more akin to the barbarians who periodically preyed on the settled wealth of high cultures than to carries of the mission civilisatrice," (106). Furthermore, she qutes Cipolla and states, "from the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the thirteenth century Eurpose was an underdeveloped area in relation the major centers of civilization at the time ... clearly a land of barbarians" (106). With this being said, the Muslim culture was unparalleled in wealth, status, and quality of goods, and Abu-Loghod clearly states that the interest in Muslim culture from the western European people was not reciprocated (106); the area the western Europeans inhabitied "had little to offer," (106) according to the Muslims/Islams/Arabs (a term Abu-Lughod uses seemingly interchangeably).

Other than their economical and sociological inferiority, in relation to the Muslim culture, several instances led to the assumption of western European inferiority, namely in the case of the Crusaders - whom the Muslims referred to as "franks" (107). Abu-Lughod cites the following example as an absolutely savage example of the inferiority of the barbarian peoples:

In 1098 Crusader destruction of the Syrian town of Ma'arra had been accompanied
by acknowledged acts of Frankish cannibalism. Graphically descrived in the chronicle of
Radulph of Caeb (he admits that 'in Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking pots,
they impaled children on spits abd deciyred tgen grilled'). They were later justified in a
letter sent to the Pope by the Christian commander, who blamed the lapse on extreme
hunger (107).

The Muslims' marked dismay with this act was excused swiftly by the western European power - the church; however, Muslim hostorians hold that their eccentric and barbarian acts were further exemplified by their eating of dogs, "the uncleanest of species," (107).

The excuse belied on the part of the Pope and the Catholic church was quite rediculous to me - "extreme hunger" does not account for the fact that many people were consumed during these times by the uncivilized. While more information might help the argument that this case was justified in terms of the barbarians' desperation in times of war, it is an extreme display of the Crusaders' sociological inferiority, if nothing else. It is, however, problematic to cite only one extreme example of their social inferiority, without citing further information surrounding the Radulph of Caen's chronicle, and claim the general conclusion that this led to the idea of western European inferiority, in realtion to the Muslim peoples at that time.

Genoa and Venice

Teresa (Starr) Green
Blog 2

Part 1:
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.

Part 2:
I was shocked at how early commercial shipping was developed and how competitive cities got over this rather new phenomena.

Part 3:
What do you think was the driving force that lead Genoa to its demise. Do you think that it was preventable?

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

Before European Hegemony - Blog 2

Janet Abu-Lughod continues to track shifts in power through the analyzation of trade patterns. In particular, she focuses on Genoa and Venice. Venice was much more centralized with a system closer to state capitalism. Genoa, on the other hand, had mostly individual citizens contribute in direct investment. Both cities used public debt to fund investment on nearly all state-related products and services. In return for their investment, citizens earned shares of stock. It can then follow that this was an extremely early indication of modern capitalism. Genoa and Venice tried to vastly expand their areas of trade, which eventually led to the creation of what could be termed a world system. However, Genoa and Venice heatedly competed for trade, which greatly increased the protection rates. The Bubonic Plague also infected both cities and killed many people, including merchants. This, along with an increase in political factionalism, led to their decline. Abu-Lughod then goes on to describe three different routes that went to the East: the Northern Route, the Middle Route, and the Southern Route. Before the trade between the West and East was relatively common, Europeans were extremely ignorant of the Mongols. Papal missionaries paved the way for Venetian and Genoese traders who were finally able to dispel some myths surrounding the Mongols. It also helped that the Mongols united a large area of land which provided a venue for safer trade routes and invited merchants. However, that peace could not last forever. Each of the routes eventually became a victim of the wars between the Christian Crusaders and the Mongols.

It was especially intriguing to me to hear about how the East and the West thought so strangely of each other, but still in the same vein of thought. For example, Roman citizens thought India was a source not only of spices but also of “men with a dog’s head…or a single foot…or with heels in front” (Abu-Lughod 160). I know people are generally afraid of what they do not know, but it still seems odd that they would assume that other people were so different from themselves. It seems even stranger that the East was equally as disillusioned about Europe. Perhaps early explorers and merchants created such stories not only to gain attention but also as a way of frightening others from usurping their discoveries and routes. Therefore they were creating a novelty that was meant to be feared and admired but not traversed.

I wish Abu-Lughod had expanded on the mail system of the time. She merely mentioned that two letters were sent in 1305. I am curious to know if the route the letters followed was the same as the route other goods followed. Did merchants act as mailmen at that time? Would it not then have taken possibly years for letters to arrive at their destination? It seems to me that there must have been a more efficient system in place that allowed mail to travel faster. In which case, were there prescribed routes that the supposed mail deliverers followed? If so, I would assume that they crossed the plains of central Asia on horses because Abu-Lughod’s description of that area seems the most conducive to such quick, light traveling. However, I wish she had provided a more concrete example of what the mail system was like around the fourteenth century.

Pax Mongolica and the Black Death

In this weeks readings, Janet Abu-Lughod makes a very interesting point at the end of the chapter on Mongolia.  She notes that the world system that emerged at the time due to the unification of Central Asia was destroyed both by unrest and fragmentation in that empire as well as the bubonic plague that rapidly cut the world’s population.  The interesting point then made is the connection of the two events.  Abu-Lughod carefully describes the state in which the plague reduces the power of a Mongolian empire that had become less centralized and very diverse.  This reduced power leads to an increase in armed resistance to the authority of the central empire, which leads to disrupted production and tribute flow, which in turn hurts the ability of the empire to suppress such rebellions.  An interesting side effect of the rebellions and infighting within the empire is that they also aided the spread of the bubonic plague.  So not only did both the internal strife and disease contribute to the downfall of the Mongolian Empire, each contributed to the other.  This created what could be called a cycle of destruction that not only ended the reign of the Mongolian Empire and Mongolia’s hegemony over Central Asia (a position that seems even more interesting given Mongolia’s current status in the world), but also the system of trade that had spread throughout the known world.  European traders were still able to complete their dealings to some extent through the seas to the south of Mongolia’s borders, the fragmentation of the Empire removed one key route (due to the lack of safety on the roads thanks to fighting, local warlords, bandits operating in the lack of real authority) but also the Mongolian Empire as a key trading partner for much of the world.  This was due both to its depopulation (experienced by all of the world) and its fragmentation.

            Janet Abu-Lughod also gives the Mongol Empire the credit (or, perhaps more precisely, the blame) for the spread of the bubonic plague.  She cites one theory: that the disease originated in the Burma region, which was isolated from the rest of the world until Mongol invasions.  She says that then the fleas which carried the Plague were picked up by the horses used by Mongol armies (which, almost ironically, are thought of as the reason for Mongol success militarily), finding breeding grounds amongst the rodents of the Central Asian grasslands.  This was then followed by continued contact, through both warfare and trade, of Mongols and the rest of the world.  Additionally, these grasslands were the site of the major northern route used for trade, and were frequented by European and other traders until the middle of the fourteenth century.

            Abu-Lughod mentions fairly early on that each region had, until this period, been fairly isolated, and that each section had its own endemic diseases to which most had some sort of resistance to.  She claims that the sudden connection of these disparate regions would lead to the spread of the diseases of each area to the others, with devastating results.  What I wonder, then, is why it took around one hundred years for a disease like this to ravage whole sections of the world, and why it was the bubonic plague that eventually filled that role.  Was it because the Black Death was unknown to all?  But even in that scenario, why aren’t their more reports of European diseases wreaking havoc throughout Asia and the Middle East much earlier (or the opposite, as well)?  This seems to have happened in specific regions at other points of new contact…

The Global Society Post #2

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?

-Dan Weingart

Genoa and Venice

    The location of Genoa and Venice were important and critical in the changes and developments of trade during 1260 to 1350. After the geographic changes that occurred in the west, a new struggle between the superpowers after Italy connection was corrupted in the center. Previous to their rise, they were known as the Arab Sea. Eventually, Genoa and Venice became extreme powers in the west in the Pax Mangolica south. The two countries faced minor competition from Milan and Florence; however, they remained strong and diligent during the trade years. An important factor for the rise for Genoa and Venice was the crusades. The crusades were also critical and tough problems within the aspects of trade and the routes.

    Genoa had problems during the thirteenth century to maintain their dominance. Their status as a leader of the world systems faced many problems. The establishment of the monopoly was destroyed by Egypt. The main purpose of this for Egypt was for them to become independent and gain aspects of their own personal independence. The fall of Genoa came about in many ways: the route through the black sea became less profitable, its monopoly on the western Mediterranean was less profitable, and their attempt failed. Because of this, Venice took over Genoan ties to Egypt. The question is: Did Genoa fall or did Venice rise? I believe that Genoa did not fall. My belief is that Genoa was placed in a bad situation and it was unfortunate that they had to go through the tough crisis. Their attempts on the monopolies failing crushed the critical arrangement and preparation for Genoa to compete in such of an advanced world system. The strategy by Venice to take advantage of Genoa was a move that was smart and worthwhile for them. This is a period of open competition. Both Venice and Genoa were on opposite ends of the west, thus, the countries were forced to be rivals and fight for the most within the trade routes and crusades. Therefore, when one fell, the other could only do 2 things; fall or rise.

    There were many lessons to be learned from Genoa and Venice. Some important aspects of the international system is the role of a trade fair site, become a powerful industrial produces whose goods are so desired that merchants will come from a variety of places, the commercial shipper is good, and a security system to protect the trade routes.

    In my opinion, Abu-Lughod is writing his response to Genoa and Venice in the matter of respect. I believed, through his tone that he really adored the history of those two great cities. Lughod stated in his notes that he was surprised that two cities were so powerful simultaneously during a critical time period. However, Genoa has more literature and is much more represented within the media and art. Why is Genoa more popular than Venice? I believe that Genoa is more remembered because it was a much more advanced city with the arts. Genoa was known to be a beautiful city, filled with art and creativity.


-Shaq Smith


Merchants, Mongols and Historical Perspective

In chapter four of Before European Hegemony Janet Abu-Lughod expands on her theory of the pre-hegemonic trade system by discussing the two most powerful Italian cities, Genoa and Venice. Both cities were major maritime trading powers in the early fourteenth century, until Venice came to dominate the Mediterranean market in the first years of the fifteenth century. Abu-Lughod focuses on how these two cities came to control Mediterranean trade, specifically discussing their economic and political policies. Particularly important were the advances in “risk distribution” through the Genoese loca system and the Venetian state backed economy and “public debt” system. Also critical to the cities’ success was the highly advanced sailing technology developed for the merchant convoys. Abu-Lughod also details the role the Crusades played in their expansion into the markets of Middle Eastern trade, especially those of the Holy Land. In addition to Christian conquest, Abu-Lughod mentions the Turkish and Mongol invasions of the “Mideast Heartland” and the eventual fall of their empire. The Mongol invasions may have spread Eastern culture to the Europeans, as Italian traders, and papal convoys were sent to the Far East but the their empire’s fall was felt across the Pax Mongolica system, and eventually dissolved the Eastern trade routes.
I found the Muslim’s view of their “Frank” conquerors fascinating. I am used to the European superiority complex, and the “white man’s guilt” of modern society, so seeing the Crusaders from a Muslim perspective was as enlightening as it was disturbing. Hearing the account of Crusaders who had “boiled pagan adults in cooking pots… impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled” was an uncomfortable moment for me. Hearing of such horrors in the conquest of the Holy Land helped me understand the complex and often conflicted relationship between Christians and Muslims today. All of these moments in history have brought society to where we are today. It is difficult for any culture to forget the horrors of the past, especially hundreds of years of violence and conquest. Yesterday’s wars contribute greatly to today’s conflicts in the Middle East.
They say those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it so I raise the question, what can we learn from the Crusades, and the Mongol invasions? Perhaps we can learn to understand perspectives not our own, and create a more peaceful global society, instead of continuing in the vicious cycle of violence that began so many centuries ago.

The Elementary Effect on Subsequent World Systems

The information that I found most striking throughout this reading was the overall lack of real knowledge of the general population during the Pax Mongolica era. It is even more interesting to think that a world trade system had the ability to sustain itself (for however short a time) with almost complete misunderstanding of the cultures being traded with. Specifically, we see both sides of the spectrum (West & East) not knowing. This mutual failure to understand the most prefatory things about their fellow trading partners, in my eyes, ultimately was one of the heaviest blows to future systems.

Many of the Europeans believed that in India "people" were fused with dogs, had no heads and walked with single feet. They knew not how the Chinese made silk, and classified all Mongols as Tartars (which was an unfortunate bout of luck for, most honestly, both Europeans & the Mongols). Europeans, who had not had much exposure to the world beyond, were malleable in their beliefs. But without at least a basic understanding of the cultures they were trading with they brought about their own end to the world system. While their irrevocable crusades may have opened the doorway to the East, they ultimately closed it. I believe that the Crusades, though they did sporadically abate, created, or at least perpetuated, a non-necessary and extremely hindering belief of the world outside of Europe.

The path to destruction was walked by not only the Europeans, though. The East, conjointly, joined in. By not furthering their knowledge of where their products were going, to whom they were going, and general such knowledge of culture; the fate of the system was furthermore sealed. From reading, and the general vibe that Abu-Lughood writes about, the East (much like the West) seemed to a bunch of small children playing around- though not quite ready to understand the world at large. It seems as if one child told another that in the West they get wool from combing water sheep. Thinking this was true the latter-child turns and tells another. And another. And the chain perpetuates and it is then common belief that wool does indeed come from combing water sheep. And so the elementary effect has occurred. Or, rather, was occurring across the world at the time.

Now, to clarify, I do not believe that because the West and the East failed to acquaint or, at the very least, amass basic facts about one another than the death of the world system occurred. I fully accept that there were a plethora of reasons for this world system's collapse. My fundamental belief though, after this particular set of reading, is that the subsequent world system may have been entirely different if the two [East & West] had gained some common ground. I believe that a new trade route could have been formed via land and port if basic knowledge for the opposite culture existed. This would have amplified not only people’s desire to trade, but also to converse with and further peruse a culture. I think, if that desire in addition to that of trade, was intrinsically installed within both the Europeans and those in the East, the resulting world system would have been a renewed version of its former self; albeit slightly altered.

The Mideast Heartland, Three Routes, and the Mongols

How integrated and interdependent much of the world had become became evident by the second half of the 1300s not, unfortunately, because of how well everyone prospered, rather because of how each region suffered effects of others’ disasters. It was the disaster rooted in China that the rest of the “world system” felt. With the Mongol conquests raging within and outward from the east, it was only by luck that the Christian and Muslim worlds were saved, first by the deaths of Mongol rulers and by the internal fighting between Mongol regions. When there was a stable ruler, there were stable and secure routes, but when there was not, the routes suffered--namely the northern route--and traders sought for alternatives. Soon fell the middle route, as well, much in part due to the fall of Baghdad, an epicenter of culture, trade, and religion, as it was crushed between the Crusaders and Mongols. Meanwhile, in the south, Egypt was forced to become increasingly militarized facing (as Baghdad) threats from both sides. Cairo flourished because the southern route through the Red Sea became the single connection between the two bodies of water central to the world system, with the Italians providing the much-needed stream of military manpower, thus drawing the center of power away from the East.

I find it interesting and I agree with Abu-Lughod that, "The most striking lesson is that the economic role of facilitator, depending as it does on an ability to enforce its control over a wide zone, is basically an unstable one, subject to chance political and demographic fluctuations" (182). The Mongols, after all, are a good example. They held, stabilized, and secured trade routes as they unified the great Eastern region and were able to calculate transport and regulate tolls. But as tribute became a basis for the state, they became what Abu-Lughod refers to as "parasitic." The Mongols had to rely on the skills and labor of the peoples they conquered, not practicing any themselves. The need to continue geographically expanding eventually led to their implosion when they could no longer conquer new peoples. These factors being inherent instability, according to Abu-Lughod, all is needed in a new shock that could destroy the system, which in the Mongols' case, was the Black Death.

It is simultaneously unnerving and fascinating to think of the precariousness of groups/nations/empires that, at their time seem unconquerable and stable. Who knows what the future will bring for what are currently the top power players in today's society? What could be the factor that could topple the West's regime? Examining how it has happened in history makes the prospect seem more plausible.

Genoa, Venice, the Crusades, and Capitalism

            Genoa and Venice- not exactly renowned centers of trade in the twenty-first century. But they had everything going for them in the 13th century. Location was certainly key, since Venice’s port opened to the eastern Mediterranean and Genoa opened to the western portion. The two cities were often at war with one another and constantly in fierce competition. Both were gateways to the Orient and the Muslim world. As Abu-Lughod said, “both cities played pivotal roles in joining Europe to the ongoing world economy of the east” (102).

            Technology was clearly key in the power of these two cities, particularly the technology that allowed them to improve their transportation of goods via sea routes. And although the Italians were reluctant to participate in the Crusades so as not to alienate their trading partners, the fact that fellow Europeans went to the Holy Land was surely advantageous to Genoa and Venice, creating in potential customers the desire for exotic goods from the East. These European ventures to the East “changed the role of the Italian merchant mariner cities from passive to active” (108). At this time the two Italian giants were building larger, more sophisticated ships, attacking and plundering other vessels, searching for new routes, and establishing small colonies in ports they found useful. While the Crusades continued, these enterprises continued to be profitable.

            Ironically, however, the Pope, whose predecessors had encouraged the invasion of Muslim territory, decided belatedly that contact with the Islamic world should be minimal. But in this case the capitalistic spirit overtook religious zeal. Genoa and Venice chose to ignore the papal injunction against trading with “infidels”, with the result that the entire city of Genoa was excommunicated. Without concrete repercussions, however, the pope’s decision was futile.

            Capitalism is something usually associated with the eighteenth century Adam Smith, was alive and well in the thirteenth century world system. Genoa and Venice had free enterprise systems in place in which merchants were practically free to do as they pleased with the added bonus of having the city-states’ governments to defend their right to do so. In many ways, however, the two cities differed- in Venice, the state was strongly influential in trade decisions, while in Genoa, a “laissez-faire” attitude was adopted and private citizens were much more involved than the government.  What I found interesting was that most Venetian citizens had invested in sea trade, so that “capital was being accumulated by more than the top elite” and “in Genoa participation was even broader” (118). Considering the time period, this was a remarkable thing, something we may expect today with the ease of investment in the stock market or real estate, but not something all too common in those days.

            I’d like to return now to Abu-Lughod’s thesis, which was that Europe was not in fact more advanced than the Middle East and Asia. In Chapter Four, it seems that the European ego was boosted by some minor victories during the Crusades and certain technological advancements that made trade with the East easier. Muslims, however, eventually pushed back the Crusaders, reclaiming their land and winning over the European barbarians who had fallen to eating human flesh (supposedly due to the fact that food was scarce).  And while the Italians felt superior and believed that they were getting the better deal in terms of their trade with the Islamic world, their Muslim counterparts did in fact have to advantage of not having to cross the Mediterranean to sell their goods. In fact, they did not rely on European trade the way that Italians needed them. Muslim traders could easily have only traded with East Asia, rendering their trade with Italy unnecessary.

BEH 2: Trade Routes

The fourth and fifth chapters of Janet L. Abu-Lughod’s book are about Genoa, Venice and the Mongols. The forth chapter about the merchant powers of Genoa and Venice is important because they played vital roles in bringing Europe into the previously existing trade system. Abu-Lughod tells the history and origins of both Genoa and Venice. While both rose to be naval powers during the Crusades, Genoa was more active earlier on, while Venice held back. The two cities battled for control of the sea, and thus contact to the Middle East and trade networks. Both Genoa and Venice were able to develop technology with “impressive sophistication in navigation, shipbuilding [,] armaments” and improve the way to do business that improved European trade (103). Although the desire to destroy one another overtook the advancements they were making and energy that could have gone toward development went toward fighting each other instead. An interesting point that Abu-Lughod brings up is that by the thirteenth century, Genoa and Venice “almost capitalist”(116). The time of the Crusades against the Muslims brought along false hope that Europe would form an alliance with the Mongols, when “all that Europeans knew at the time was that the Mongols were not Muslims” (144). When the Mongols divided into subgroups, European hopes for a “great trans-Central Asian route as an alternative to the Indian Ocean collapsed” (145). As a result of the division of the Mongols, disagreements and battles broke out and trade suffered.

I found it interesting that Italian city-states were the ones to connect Europe to the Middle East and tip “the center of gravity” toward Europe (108). Also, that the reason they were the ones to connect Europe to the existing system due to the Crusades. Another interesting point brought up was near the end of the forth chapter, Abu-Lughod says that “the basic problematic of this book is to understand why [a truly interdependent world system] did not happen”(125). She also stated how each area was prosperous, while it had been said earlier in the book; I found these paragraphs on pages 124 and 125 fascinating.

In our lecture PowerPoint from the 16th, there was a slide in the discussion on whether Venice rose or Genoa fell. This is something I believe Abu-Lughod could have gone into more depth on. Not only which happened, but also why that city either rose or fell. I could have used more description on why Venice was able to gain so much strength while Genoa faltered. There was also a comment about the "need for continutal geographic expansion" of the Mongols (183). I understand their desire to continue gaining land, but I would have liked more detail from Abu-Lughod on why the Mongols could not stabilize. Thoughts?

Genoa vs. Venice : the battle for trade supremacy

The main idea set forth by Abu-Lughod in this week's reading is that, at one point, Genoa and Venice were the main ports of call for the world trade system. They became the middlemen. Pushing goods from Europe to Asia and visa versa. She goes into great detail as to how these two cities became the major places of interest they are known to have been. Sadly, the majority of the evidence leads the reader to the conclusion that these cities were born and flourished on goods brought to them through the bloody and merciless crusades that ravaged so much of the thriving Muslim world. The Crusaders left their homes and families, off to "do good" and restore the Holy Land to the church. In doing so they exposed themselves and later their home markets to the goods and resources they encountered along the way; but at a great price. The Crusaders probably permenatly damaged the image of western traders in the eyes of the Muslim community with their antics brought about through the Crusades. The pillaging, raping, burning, killing, canibalism, and other such atrocities witnessed and experienced by these people can not have been easy to forget or forgive. This created a strained relationship between the societies down the road.

As we can see, both Venice and Genoa could not maintain their prestige as the main stage of world trade. For Genoa, the change was much more drastic. Abu-Lughod gives clues and ideas as to why this decline may have occured. She mentiones the age old excuse of the Black Death taking it's toll. Political problems within Genoa and in the Mongol empire also made it on to the list of issues that may have caused the decline in trade in the area. I find it particularily interesting that two such geographically close cities could experience such different fates on the world stage.

The question that pops to my mind is this; is there any one reason for the fall of Genoa? Can we really pinpoint one issues that caused it's demise? It seems to me that it was just a chain of unlucky events for the port city, but it had to have started somewhere.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Trade Routes

The fate of the Northern trade route was written when Genghis Khan died suddenly which left the line of succession for the Mongol Empire uncertain. Trade from the Silk Road years had become a slow trickle of traders (mostly Muslim and Jewish merchants). The Mongol Empire was divided into 3 zones. The success and stability of this new system allowed for trade across the “northern” paths to expand. Since W. Europe was spared from extensive invasion (when Khan turned his attention back East, then died). Europe re-emerged as a trading partner with the Far East. This renewed trade in the Northern route would not last. As the 3 Mongol regions began to separate from each other and from Europe (some regions converting to Islam), conflict broke out and trade along this route suffered.

Like the Northern route, the middle route had enjoyed a long history as a major trade route. The hegemony of Baghdad as a centre of trade was indisputable. Also like the northern route, the middle passage would lose significance during this time period. The combination of the effects of the crusades, its location between Christendom & the Mongols and rampant warfare would reduce the importance of the region of Iraq and the centre of trade Baghdad.

The Southern route was a long preferred route for many European traders, especially during this critical period in history. After the decline of Baghdad, Cairo became the “most important capital of the Muslim world.” If one had to choose the best trade route between the 13th and 15th centuries, the majority of people would say that it was the one that went through the Egyptian/Mamluk lands. It is Egypt that kept trade open with European merchants (most coming from the Italian peninsula city states).

I was fascinated to learn about the attempt by the Pope to create an alliance with the Mongols against their Muslim rivals. The response of the Mongol ruler was remarkable in that he asked for the Pope’s submission. What are the reasons for this refusal to take down a common threat/rival?

Oh that Genoa...

Who would have thought that two maritime cities would be the ones to “bridge the gap” and connect Europe to the rest of the world system, in particular the Middle East?

Genoa and Venice, who at one point – dominated the Mediterranean trade, played key roles both in trade and crusade. Venice was bound to become a key leader in trade. After being able to survive being conquered, the city was provided immense amounts of protection. This shield over their city enabled them to prosper and become more powerful than before. On the other side of the fence, Genoa was city that was all too familiar with being involved in battle. They had been to battle several times, sometimes resulting in evening being conquered. However, it was because of this prior experience that they excelled in the crusades. With these two cities being dominant in two fundamental areas of the world system, they were bound to expand – eventually coming in contact with the Middle East. Trade increased vastly in that area, requiring production to pick-up (more than expected – as we will see), and not only production but in commercial shipping, too.

What continued to keep Genoa strong after its expansion were its ties to Egypt via its expertise in the slave trade. Genoa had a monopoly over this area, and without it Genoa could be no more. Their monopoly with Egypt had diminished, and now several attempts (Black Sea, Western Mediterranean, and the Atlantic) were made to replace what they had lost, but failure was all that could be found. Venice, which some may argue could have been headed in the same direction as Genoa, stepped in and took control of their ties to Egypt thus allowing them to sustain their city. With Venice now having the monopoly, it was only a short matter of time before they conquered Genoa.

Something that I wish Abu-Lughod would have explained a little further in depth was Venice managed to stay afloat while Genoa came to a crashing hault. It seemed that for a while the two cities were parallel with each other, running neck and neck, but we slowly witness Genoa fall far behind and pretty much be “rescued” by a city one could say that use to “compete” with. Any thoughts?

Venice and Genoa

Abu-Lughod’s fourth chapter details the battle between Genoa and Venice over control of the valuable sea lanes facilitating trade between Europe and the Near and Far East. Despite their impressive advancements in business and navigation technology, both met a rapid decline in the middle and latter stages of the fourteenth stages for a variety of reasons. Before the “Great Depression” of that time, however, Venice and Genoa rose to be naval powers beginning with the first Crusade. Genoa was a more active player, providing support to the European Crusaders and contributing to their initial success. Venice delayed its involvement until the Crusaders made some advance in their conquest. Because of their contributions, Venice and Genoa were rewarded with control over certain land plots and cities, transforming their role in Eastern trade from “passive to active.” Through their direct involvement in the Crusades, the increased demand of eastern goods brought about by European contact with the East, and the strategic position of their ports, Venice and Genoa shifted “the center of gravity” of world trade into their territory. The Italians continued to expand their trading empires, building larger and more powerful fleets, taking over more ports, and negotiating better terms of trade. Eventually, Venice came to dominate trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Levant, Egypt, and the Black Sea while Genoa’s hegemonic zone of commerce included North Africa, Northwestern Europe, and the Western Mediterranean. The two sides never stopped battling over control over trade territory, but both vastly grew culturally and commercially, especially in the thirteenth century. Despite their rapid growth, Genoa and Venice found themselves heavily affected by a variety of factors that contributed to the “Great Depression” of the mid-fourteenth century.

So what caused this economic decline in Venice and Genoa? And why was Venice better able to at least somewhat maintain its economy? In regard to the first question, the obvious answer is the Black Plague’s devastating effect on population, and thus manpower. Because of their extensive networks of trade, Venice and Genoa were hit very hard by the Plague, losing as much as 40-60% of their population. Reduced manpower led to a halt in construction of port facilities and a decline in the size of the convoys of trade ships. This decline, however, had begun before the arrival of the Plague, indicating that there were several other underlying factors, which I was most interested in. One factor mentioned was crop failure, which resulted in a decline in municipal financing and the eventual failure of big banks, though Venice and Genoa were well insulated. Political factionalism and its effects are also briefly mentioned, but once again, it is difficult to tie Venice and Genoa to these claims as either the political differences were always present or Genoa and Venice are absent from discussions of similar political failures. As we have discussed in class, some of the factors involved were out of either city’s control. For example, Genoa’s natural and “captured” zones of dominance were not as useful in the second half of the fourteenth centuries, as the Portuguese were better situated on the Atlantic and the overland routes through Central Asia were increasingly fragmented with the decline of the Mongol empire.

For me, the most compelling aspect of the decline involved its economic aspects, as individualistic Genoa was unable to create a safety net from its risks while Venice was able to stay afloat on the back of a more socialist system in which the state provided subsidies in the form of public goods. So was it simply a matter of socialism versus capitalism that allowed Venice to rise over Genoa? Are there applications from this example to our current economic situation? Have we simply taken too many risks that we cannot recover because we have no safety net? It must be mentioned that a large part of Venice’s ability to hang on was the result of a risk, and fortunately for Venice, a successful bet on the southern sea route as opposed to Genoa’s hold in Central Asia. So, perhaps it was just simple luck that sustained Venice while stomping out Genoa in the world trade system. All in all, I believe there are too many factors to be able to say that the discussion should center on the cities’ different entrepreneurial styles. Rather, there are several different factors that contributed to the economic decline, not just in Italy but in all parts of the world system at the time.

Genova contra Venezia

Early in chapter 4, Abu-Lughod writes about the Italian city-states Genoa and Venice: “Each was a vanguard. Geographically, each tried to reach as far as possible in Asia. Institutionally, each tried to devise better ways to do business, to accumulate larger amounts of less risky capital, to administer companies, and to monopolize the markets for commodities and money” (Abu-Lughod 102-3). This is an excellent summary of the two Italian heavyweights, and—continuing in the chapter—she writes that the two city-states played an undeniably important role in the “global” economic system, as they served as middle-men for the system and “connect[ed] the cultural islands of the thirteenth-century world system” (103).

Obviously, the two city-states were both critically located on the Mediterranean, and both developed and employed state-of-the-art navies and economic systems as a result. However, I think there is another—possibly more important—reason why Genoa and Venice grew to be such great powers. We know that Venice and Genoa were rivals. And we also know that Venice emerged victorious (in the sense that it became the more-dominant of the two city-states). Rhetorically asking, why was this so?

Abu-Lughod writes that Venice and Genoa developed differently concerning the relationship between capitalism and the respective city-states (113-4). In Genoa, individual citizens and parties (i.e. families, &c.) “were more involved than the state in direct investment,” and was also fractured with inter-family feuds and other competitive struggles that resulted from the more personalized capitalistic system (I’m thinking of Shakespeare: “Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona [replace with Genoa], where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”)

Venice, on the other (and cleaner) hand, was largely free from the feuds and civil struggles that were common on the rest of the Italian peninsula (114). Thus (Abu-Lughod purports), Venice was much closer to state capitalism with “a strong subcomponent of individual enterprise.”

Venice finally emerged victorious in 1381, and “[t]he Peace of Turin bequeathed the Mediterranean and in particular the oriental trade to a Venetian monopoly” (120). Was the catalyst of Venice’s victory the fact that they had a state capitalistic system, as opposed to a decentralized system? Perhaps. And is this lesson in history analogous to the 15th century onwards, where the European powers’ (Britain, Spain, France, Portugal, &c.) respective governments strongly backed their economic systems, thus emerging hegemonic?

-Stefan Larson