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Global commodity

(2,351 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. Definition In the early modern period, a great variety of commodities were traded, but only a limited range of them can be called global commodities in the sense that they played a significant role in intercontinental trade in quantity and value. There were several reasons for this. Danger of spoilage imposed limits on trade in many foodstuffs and other perishable goods (Foodstuffs, conservation of), as did transportation costs of goods whose price differential between place of origin and final destination was small.Varying consumer preferences (Consumption) and tastes a…
Date: 2019-10-14

India trade

(1,266 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. The Portuguese (16th century) The Indian subcontinent was already woven into wide-ranging commercial networks by the time the sea route from Europe to Asia was discovered. Merchants from Gujarat exported goods including rice to Malindi in East Africa and Hormuz on the Gulf of Persia. They also pursued trading relations with Sumatra and Malacca. Arabian merchants transported Indian pepper (Spices), silk, and precious stones to the ports of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, from where the car…
Date: 2019-10-14

Trade territory

(6,745 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark | Klooster, Willem | Beck, Thomas
1. Introduction 1.1. Europe in the early modern periodAt the dawn of the early modern period, Europe was not an integrated trade territory. Several regions of commercial interaction can be identified within it, differing markedly in population density, degree of urbanization, and intensity of processes of economic exchange. Because of the technical and political difficulties involved in overland transportation (road conditions, customs barriers; Customs duties), spheres of intensive commercial exchange …
Date: 2022-11-07


(2,447 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark | Sanz Lafuente, Gloria
1. Global economy 1.1. Asia to 1800Throughout tropical and subtropical Asia, rice has been grown for millennia; in the early modern period, too, it was enormously important as a basic foodstuff. The major forms of production were growing in coastal and riverine lowlands that were naturally or artificially flooded (marsh rice or wild rice), terrace cultivation with artificial irrigation, and the cultivation of less demanding varieties at higher altitudes (upland rice, dry rice). South Asia and East Asi…
Date: 2021-08-02


(1,300 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. BeginningsBesides the Fugger family, the southern German patrician family of the Welsers, documented in Augsburg since 1246, embodies the extent of southern German trade at the beginning of the early modern period and its organization on the basis of families and kinship. Bartholomäus (III) Welser is first mentioned in the context of long-distance trade (Trade, Long-distance); he worked in the trading company of his step-brother Lorenz Egen, but around 1414 he began to work independently with his brother-in-law Hans Prun. Aft…
Date: 2023-11-14

Plants, medicinal

(820 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. EuropeanSee Herbals; PharmacyMark Häberlein2. Non-EuropeanAsian spices were valued in Europe since the Middle Ages not only as recreational stimulants but also for their prophylactic and therapeutic effect [4. 107–110]. With the opening of a sea route to India in the 16th century, the Portuguese gained direct access to the Asian markets for spices and medicinal plants which previously had been imported to Europe via Venice (Maritime trading routes). At the same time – like the Spanish in America – they came to know …
Date: 2020-10-06


(2,102 words)

Author(s): Rössner, Philipp Robinson | Häberlein, Mark
1. EuropeSmuggling is the illegal transport of goods across a border without paying the required customs duties, taxes, and fees. In this sense, it is a form of peculation, in that is defined as illegal appropriation of goods that are not one’s own. Smuggling is therefore closely related to the misappropriation of produced goods in order to evade a tax on production or use, such as an excise tax. In territories that are highly fragmented politically, like the Old Empire at the beginning of the ea…
Date: 2022-08-17

Precious stones

(860 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
Like other “Oriental” luxuries in the Middle Ages, Asian precious stones – diamonds from India, rubies from Ceylon and Siam – mostly reached Europe through the Venetian Levant trade. By the end of the Middle Ages, Venice was sourcing most of its gemstone imports from Aleppo (Syria) and Alexandria (Egypt). Advances in processing now won the diamond notable popularity in Europe. Diamond polishers, attested from the 15th century in Venice, Bruges, Paris, and Antwerp, brought out the transparency of…
Date: 2021-03-15


(3,283 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark | Bartels, Christoph | Fried, Torsten
1. Introduction The resurgence of the European population after the plague epidemics of the 14th and 15th centuries, which also brought about a revival of long-distance trade (see Trade, long-distance), led to rising demand for copper, the softness, durability, and malleability of which made it suitable for many different applications (see below, 3.). European expansionism overseas made copper and brass goods important commodities in the Portuguese Africa and Asia trades from the 16th century (World economy) [3. 335, 337, 347 f.]. The development of new refining metho…
Date: 2019-10-14

Caravan trade

(1,468 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. Introduction Before the innovations in navigation technology in the 14th and 15th centuries and the subsequent voyages of discovery, long-distance trade between global regions mostly took the land route. The arid regions of the Asian interior, the Orient, and the Sahara presented considerable obstacles here, and traders had to deal with extreme fluctuations of temperature, scarcity of food and water, and a terrain that generally offered few navigational landmarks. From Antiquity until the 20th…
Date: 2019-10-14

West India companies

(2,113 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. IntroductionThe foundation of the English East India Company (EIC) and the Dutch Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) around 1600 equipped the sea powers of northwestern Europe with a new type of corporation, furnished with state privileges, commercial monopolies, and sovereign rights overseas, that would develop over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries into the dominant organizational form of the European Asia trade. After 1620, a number of privileged trading companies mode…
Date: 2023-11-14

Trading empire

(908 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
In historical studies of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period (14th–18th centuries), the terms  trading empire and  merchant empire refer primarily to the Mediterranean world and the Indian Ocean [1]; [5]; [6]. The prototypes are the trading empires of the republics of Genoa and Venice in the Mediterranean and the Asian trading empires of Portugal in the 16th century and the East India companies of Northern and Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. In these trading empires, direct colonial rule (Colonia…
Date: 2022-11-07

Japan trade

(797 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
Within a few years of the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama in 1497/98, the Portuguese had built an extensive network of bases in the Indian Ocean stretching as far as the Strait of Malacca in the east. Although word of the wealth of China and Japan had fired the imaginations of Europeans since the reports of Marco Polo, forging commercial relations with these empires initially proved difficult.When the first Portuguese arrived in Japan in 1543, the country was riven by conflicts between regional princes ( daimyo). Some of them welcomed the Portuguese as tradin…
Date: 2019-10-14

Trade diaspora

(10,787 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark | Freitag, Ulrike | Nagel, Jürgen G. | Lang, Heinrich | Zürn, Martin
1. Introduction 1.1. Structural features and problems of researchThe specialization of ethnic and religious minorities in particular branches of trade, within which they attained a strong and sometimes dominant position amounting to a “trade diaspora” or a “middlemen minority,” is a phenomenon observable since the Middle Ages. Jewish merchants, for instance, already had an important position in trade on the European continent and in the Mediterranean by the High Middle Ages, and the Jewish trade diaspor…
Date: 2022-11-07

American indigenous peoples, trade with

(1,231 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. The beginnings of trade-relations between native Americans and Europeans After the Spaniards had subjugated the great indigenous empires of continental Central and SouthAmerica (Conquista), they set up a colonial government and secured for themselves the control over productive land as well as the affiliated trade monopolies (Colonial empire); the trade with the native population was more or less restricted to barter in hard-to-access frontier regions. In pre-1600North America, however,  all European a…
Date: 2019-10-14

World economic centers

(12,407 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark | Lang, Heinrich | Weller, Thomas | Lesger, Clé | Schulte Beerbühl, Margrit | Et al.
1. Introduction 1.1. Definition“A world economy,” wrote Fernand Braudel, “always has an urban pole, a city at the logistical hub of its trade. Information, goods, capital, credit, people, orders, and commercial correspondence flow into it and out from it. Great merchants, often rich to excess, call the shots there” (“Une économie-monde possède toujours un pôle urbain, une ville au centre de la logistique de ses affaires; les informations, les marchandises, les capitaux, les crédits, les ho…
Date: 2023-11-14


(2,183 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark | Hofer, Sibylle
1. Terminology and subjectToday the German term  Wucher (usury) denotes the profiteering of a market participant in commodity or credit transactions or in employment contracts, exploiting the plight, carelessness, or market ignorance of the disadvantaged party; it is a punishable offence in both civil and criminal law. The modern definition assumes a distinction between usury and interest – in principle justified – that came about only in the course of the early modern period (Interest [banking]). The OT forbids both usury and interest without distinction as exploi…
Date: 2023-11-14

Factory (trading post)

(1,564 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. | Häberlein, Mark
1. Europe The term  factory was much more common in Europe in the high and late Middle Ages than in the early modern period. The Italian word  fattoria, the etymon of the loanword, first appears in connection with the great Tuscan trading companies of the high Middle Ages; it denoted a fortified outpost or “branch” of a trading company in a foreign commercial center, headed by a factor (Italian  fattore) [6]. The network of factories of the great South German companies (Fugger family; Welser) with permanent offices in the major European commercial centers (A…
Date: 2019-10-14


(899 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
Pearls (probably from Vulgar Latin  pernula; “haunch,” “sea-mussel”) - accretions of mother-of-pearl, generally around the size of a pea and spherical or pear-shaped, that form in response to irritation in freshwater and seawater bivalves, became exceedingly popular jewelry items and status symbols for the social elites of Europe and Asia in ancient times and have remained so ever since (cf. also Crown [symbol of sovereignty]). Until the early modern period, oriental pearls from the Gulf of Persia an…
Date: 2020-10-06

Plantation (estate)

(2,399 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark
1. DefinitionPlantations are large agricultural operations, found mostly in the tropics and subtropics, that produce commodities for trans-regional markets. In contrast to haciendas, which mostly produced grain and cattle for regional markets, early modern plantations concentrated on cash crops like sugar, tobacco, cotton, and coffee, whose production was usually highly labor-intensive; they also contributed little to self-sufficiency. Also in contrast to haciendas, it was unusual on plantations …
Date: 2020-10-06
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