Trading Empires

Re-Run: The First Common Market?

May 24, 2014

  My Own True Love and I leave next week for Belgium and my thoughts are turning toward Waterloo, Flanders Field, and the Hanseatic League.* Especially the Hanseatic League. I’m fascinated by traveling merchants, from the Silk Road caravans that brought luxury goods from China and India to the Muslim peddlers who sold dry goods […]

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Traveling the Silk Roads

April 23, 2014

We tend to use the phrase “the Silk Road” as if it were the Route 66 of East-West commerce. In fact, it is a metaphor. German geographer Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen (1833-1905) invented the name in the late nineteenth century, long after the overland luxury routes between Asia and the West had been supplanted by […]

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City of Fortune

April 26, 2012

I thought I knew something about Venice. A floating city carved out of a malaria-ridden lagoon.  Merchant city-state turned maritime empire, with one foot in the Muslim world.  The European end of the desert caravan trade, with merchant entrepôts throughout the Levantine coast.  Canals, gondoliers,  masked balls, gold ducats. Glamor, wealth, decadence, decay.  Or perhaps, […]

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