Panzac D. (1992) Maritime trade of the Ottoman Empire in the 1700s

March 4, 2009

Panzac, Daniel (1992) “International and Domestic Maritime trade in the Ottoman Empire during the 18th Century”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 24/2, 189-206.



“A glance at a map shows what an important role the sea played in the vast empire of the Ottomans in the 18th century, linking as it did the three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa that made up the Old World. The Ottoman Empire dominated not only the eastern Mediterranean but also the major part of the southern shore of the western Mediterranean, the Black Sea-a “Turkish lake” until the 1780s-the Red Sea, and part of the Arab/Persian Gulf. Geography gave the sea a decisive role in the trade that took place in the Ottoman Empire both internationally and domestically” (p.189). Read the rest of this entry »

Çizaka M. (1980) Europe and the desindustrialization of the Ottoman Empire

March 2, 2009

Çizakca, Murat (1980) “Price History and the Bursa Silk Industry: A Study in Ottoman Industrial Decline, 1550-1650”, The Journal of Economic History, 40/3, 533-550.



“The Ottoman Empire, which covered most of Eastern Europe and the Near East in the sixteenth century, did not escape the worldwide inflation that is generally known as the ‘price revolution’” (p.533). The price series of this article are based on the estimates made by the kadi of the Bursa court in numerous inheritance cases (p.535). Raw silk prices jumped from 73.8 akçes on average in 1550-70 to 290.4 on average in 1620-40, a 293% increase (±8.5% yearly inflation; p.536). Read the rest of this entry »

Bulut M. (2002) Dutch and Ottoman commercial interactions

March 1, 2009

Bulut, Mehmet (2002) “The Role of the Ottoman and Dutch in the Commercial Integration between the Levant and Atlantic in the Seventeenth Century”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 45/2, 197-230.



Large trade volume and significant bullion transfer testify of the advanced integration between the Ottoman Empire and Europe in the early modern period (p.197). The discovery of the Cape route had gradually weakened the Ottoman position as Europe’s middleman, but by the end of the 16th century it remained significant (p.198). To replace the vanishing fiscal revenues, the Ottoman rulers granted trading privileges (the so-called capitulations) to European nations who were consequently attracted to the Levant ports. But these efforts were unable to limit the Rise of the West of which the commercial integration of the Levant and the Atlantic is a part (p.199). Read the rest of this entry »

Faroqhi S (1980) Ottoman overland transportation

February 28, 2009

Faroqhi, Suraiya (1982) “Camels, Wagons, and the Ottoman State in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 14/4, 523-539.



Earlier research on the subject of Ottoman transport history have emphasized the role of the state in the system. Less attention has been paid to the “material bases of overland transportation” (p.523). The main point is the competition between camels and wheeled-wagons pulled by oxen. Overland transportation was uniquely important in Anatolia  since most urban centers lacked an access to the sea. Even for port towns, the bulk of the international trade transited through land routes (p.524). Read the rest of this entry »

Ottoman week

February 28, 2009

Following that heated thread on, I’ve decided to devote the next 5 posts to the Ottoman Empire. I’ll also try to pay more attention to non-European topics in the future. In particular, I’ll post a few things on Mughal India and Ming China soon.

Faroqhi S. (2005) The Ottoman guilds

January 24, 2009

Faroqhi Suraiya (2005) “Chapter 1: Understanding Ottoman Guilds”, in Faroqhi Suraiya and Deguilhem Randi, Crafts and Craftsmen of the Middle East: Fashioning the Individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, London/New York: I.B.Tauris, 3-39.



The main problem for the study of the Ottoman guilds is the lack of sources to study them, specially before 1570; it is not even known whether they were introduced by the 16th-century conquest in the Arab lands (Syria and Egypt) or if they existed there before (p.3). Early 20th century scholars were particularly interested in the relationship the Ottoman artisans had with religion. In particular, Ülgener wondered why the advanced Ottoman economy did not make the transition to capitalism. For him the shift away of international trade created conditions in which the only way for craftsmen to accept economic stagnation was to develop a mental system based on modesty, egalitarianism, religious piety and small mindedness (p.5). Read the rest of this entry »

“Surrender, dogs, to those of Salé”

August 16, 2009

Leila Maziane has recently published her PhD thesis about the Corsairs of Salé. This excellent book fills the gap that existed in the “Atlantic World” between Spain and West Africa, it includes Morocco in global history and at the same time coverns fascinatings aspects of a local story. leila Maziane obtained her PhD from Caen University (France) and is now teaching at Hassan II University in Mohammedia (Morocco). She accepted in March 2009 to meet up in the beautiful al-Saud library in Casablanca:

Picture 2

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Matthee R. (1994) For piety and pleasure, coffee and coffeehouses in Safavid Iran

August 1, 2009

Matthee, Rudi (1994) “Coffee in Safavid Iran: Commerce and Consumption”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 37/1, 1-32.

Picture 26Picture 27Picture 14


Despite the fact that it took place roughly at the same period, the spread of coffee consumption over the world appear to have occurred independently from the European commercial expansion (p.1). It spread during the early 16th century from Arabia through the Ottoman Empire and to Iran (p.2). The habit may have penetrated the Safavid realm via the heavily Arab-influenced southern shores. The constant wars and exchange of territories between the two empires can only have helped to spread this Turkish custom (p.5). Read the rest of this entry »

This Week in Economic History (June 1st-7th, 2009)

June 1, 2009

On Tuesday the 2nd, there will be an international conference on “Genre, Mobilités et Mobilisations” in the University of Paris 8. You can contact Marguerite Rollinde (GTM) on it.

On Wednesday the third, Irène Favier will present a paper named “Autour des restructurations industrielles dans la France du second XXe siècle : de Faverge à Vergèze”, in the Social and Politic History of the Economy seminar organized at the École Normale Supérieure. That same day begins the Sixth Annual Conference of the Italian Association for the History of Political Economy (STOREP), with the topic “Financial Crises in the Economists’ View”, in the University of Florence, Italy. The event will last two days: you can visit the conference site here. In the University of California at Los Angeles Haggay Etkes (Stanford University) presents “Legalizing Extortion: Protection Payments, Property Rights, and Economic Growth in Ottoman Gaza” in the VonGremp Workshop in Economic and Entrepreneurial History. In Colombia, Alberto G. Flórez-Malagón (History Department, Ottawa University) will present a book he edited on cattlefarming, “El poder de la carne. Historias de ganaderías en la primera mitad del siglo XX en Colombia”, at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá.

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This Week in Economic History (May 18th-23rd, 2009)

May 17, 2009

On Monday the 18th, the  London School of Economics Business History Unit Seminar will host James Walker and Peter Scott (Henley Business School at the University of Reading). They will present a paper on “Sales and Advertising Rivalry in Interwar US Department Stores”.  That same day, there will be an interesting conference on “Work and living standards in Africa in the long run“. Gareth Austin (LSE), Issiaka Mandé (Université Paris-Diderot), Alexander Moradi (University of Sussex) and Denis Cogneau (PSE et IRD) will discuss their papers in ENS, Paris.

On Tuesday the 19th, there will be a conference on “Cuisine régionale, cuisine de ville. Histoire et identités régionales”, by Massimo Montanari, at Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7.  A two-day international conference on Sailing History begins on Tuesday in Granada. There is also an interesting seminar on “The Long Term Effects of the Ottoman Empire: Financial Development in the Regions of Europe”, by Pauline Grosjean, at Berkeley University.

On Thursday, May 21st, a two-day conference will begin in London, this on “Writing the History of the Global“. Economic historians such as Jan Luiten van Zanden, Sevket Pamuk and Patrick O’Brien, among others will participate on a topic that has caught the attention of many colleagues around the world. The organizers will post multimedia records in ITunesU: we’ll inform whenever they are available. In Barcelona, a workshop on “Innovation Economy and History of Science and Technology. The Making of the Contemporary Pharmaceutical Research System” begins that same day.

There will be a two-day open conference in Mexico City to discuss the chapters of the coming book “Historia económica general de México. De la colonia a nuestros días“. Internationally-known scholars, such as Stephen Haber (Stanford), Alan Knight (Oxford), John Coatsworth (Columbia) and Gabriel Tortella (Universidad de Alcalá de Henares) will discuss a collective book that will definitely be a cornerstone in Mexican economic history.

Do you know of any other relevant economic history event in  your country? Please let us know!

Dittmar J. (2008) The emergence of Zipf’s Law

April 2, 2009

Dittmar, Jeremiah (2008) “Cities, Institutions, and Growth: The Emergence of Zipf’s Law”, Job Market Paper.


This paper is available on line.


Zipf’s Law is a simple power law holding that the number of cities with population greater than N is proportionate to 1/N, this results in a log-linear relation between city population and city size rank (p.2). However, as shown by pre-modern European urban history, this law is not universal nor a-temporal (p.3). This outlying is very significant since economists have recognized that “there is an optimal level of urban concentration and that both over- and under- concentration can be very costly in terms of productivity growth” (p.4). When respecting the Zipf’s Law, city growth is considered random, so what prevented “normal” urban expansion and what later on made it possible? Read the rest of this entry »

Blanchard I. (1986) The 16th-century European cattle trade

March 14, 2009

Blanchard, Ian (1986) “The Continental European Cattle Trades, 1400-1600”, The Economic History Review, 39/3, 427-460.



The European international cattle trade arose in the 1470s out of a “context of a network of regional markets” for locally grazed animals (p.428). Antwerp for instance drew its supplies mostly from Zealand and Holland. The diminutive livestock trade was limited to the Hungarian exports to Venice and some Rhenish towns (Frankfurt, Cologne; p.429). “As gold production recovered in Hungary during the second quarter of the 15th century, […] the economy was subject to the dual pressures of a hard exchange and an excessive money supply which caused its export products to be overpriced on international market and turned a previously strong balance of trade into a decidedly weak one” (p.430). The northern Polish (Breslau, Poznan, Gniezno) products partly replaced the Hungarian cattle after the 1420s, they were exported through the fair of Leipzig. The Hungarian solely retained the south European markets. Read the rest of this entry »