Friday, March 11, 2005

Globalization Part II: First Era of Global Markets

I have changed Era of Trade to First Era of Global Markets. This is the time when merchants, traders, and travelers visited foreign nations and empires, sold goods they brought from home, and returned with new foreign goods to sell at their native lands. During this time the products carried along the Silk Route, which was overland, and the Spice Route, which was over water, no longer just stopped at the Middle East or Africa. Large numbers of Europeans, encouraged from what they heard from returning Crusaders, decided to see Palestine for themselves. Most of this trade between Europeans and the Middle Easterners first took place in Palestine, but then it spread. Chinese silk, Indian spices, and Arabian perfumes came into high demand in Europe. A chance for profit was obvious. Italy was really the first European place to take full advantage. Two of its port cities, Genoa and Venice, became immensely rich and powerful, quickly dominating Mediterranean trade, they also became rivals. Italy was not united at that time. During this time, European Crusaders and merchants also brought back many new ideas and inventions. The Arabs had recorded and greatly expanded previous Roman and Greek knowledge, now this knowledge was quickly spreading in Italy and other major European trading nations. Arabs also learned to value European products, especially wool, and perhaps timber and certain metals. The old trade routes started to thrive with the new traffic. At this point global markets fully came into use. Now people in one area buy products from many places. Merchants once limited to their own villages and towns, soon became rich by expanding their economic horizons and opening up new "markets" in foreign worlds. Because there now were vast new lands who wanted their products, Eurpean, Middle Eastern, and Oriental economies quicly grew.
The new merchants in Europe realized that they could also wield political power with their enormous wealth. They formed a new middle class, consisting of people who mainly lived in towns and cities. They put pressure on their governments to find ways to help them. In this period, many skilled craftsmen also realized their goods had great new demand, with charters from their governements they formed their own guilds. It is from these guilds that I derive the name of History Bloggers' Guild. These guilds were basically early labor unions, there were leather tanners' guilds, shoemakers' guilds. Now, whate separates these guilds from HBG is that these guilds had virtual monopolies of their craft in their cities.
As more people moved to the cities and found new wealth, the cities' power increased. Older feudal lords, who mainly relied on large farms, gradually lost their power to the kings and queens. These kings and queens no longer depended on feudal lords for support, they had the merchants and crafsmen.
In the Middle East and the Orient, great new empires emerged to control sections of this new trade, these empires grew extremely wealthy and powerful. It is also this time that the Persians, Turks, and Mongols rose to power. These people established empires that often overlapped the Silk Route. They became middlemen for the goods from India and China.
The kings and queens of Europe were pressured to do something. Some offered great reward for those who ventured out to sea to look for new trade routes, others tried to establish their own empires to combat the power of the Eastern Empires. Quickly, the First Era of Gl0bal Markets gave way to the First Imperial Age.

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