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 »

Shatzmiller J. (1990) “The best Jew in the world”: another look at medieval Jewish usury

January 15, 2009

Joseph Shatzmiller (1990) Shylock reconsidered: Jews, Moneylending, and Medieval Society, Berkeley, University of California Press, 250p.*


From February to July 1317, a trial opposing a Jewish moneylender called Bondavin to his client Laurent Girard took place in Marseille. Bondavin accused Laurent of not having paid back a 60-sols loan (15). A significant sum, but nothing extraordinary compared to Bondavin own’s fortune (certainly several hundred pounds) (21). So why did Bondavin engaged in a procedure if not for money? Read the rest of this entry »

Goiten S. (1964) Mediterranean trade before the Crusades

February 17, 2008

Goiten Shelomo Dov (1964) “Le commerce méditerranéen avant les croisades. Quelques faits et problèmes”, reproduced in Micheau Françoise (ed.) Les relations des pays d’Islam avec le monde latin du milieu du Xe siècle au milieu du XIIIe siècle, Paris Vuibert, 2004, 286-303.


Have the Crusadeds followed and used or preceded and triggered the first commercial long-standing relations between the Muslim parts of the Mediterranean world and the Western Christendom (286) ? The documents from the Cairo Geniza cast a new light on this issue (287). These documents reveal “the strong influence of Europe upon he islamic trade as early as the first decades of the 11th century, and even sooner”. Read the rest of this entry »