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.
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 »
July 15, 2009
"Police officers marching in Urumqi". Photo by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times
If you want to know more about the historical and economic origins of Uighur’s unrest in China last weeks, here is a good article on Xinjiang’s history by Edward Wong, a New York Times journalist.
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 »
March 3, 2009
Pamuk, Şevket (1997) “In the Absence of Domestic Currency: Debased European Coinage in the Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Empire”, The Journal of Economic History, 57/2, 345-366.
“For almost two decades during the middle of the seventeenth century, French, Italian, and Dutch merchants minted in southern France, northern Italy, and elsewhere in Europe large amounts of European coinage whose specie content had been reduced to mostly copper with a thin silver coating. These coins were then transported across the Mediterranean and used as payment for Ottoman goods or even sold wholesale to local merchants and moneychangers. Initially they fetched prices far above their metal content, but these premiums declined over time with the increasing volume of trade that eventually involved hundreds of ships and close to 200 million pieces of coin. The gross revenues of the European merchants have been estimated […] somewhere between six to eight million Venetian gold ducats” (p.345). Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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 »
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 »
February 6, 2009
Pamuk, Şevket (2007) “The Black Death and the origins of the ‘Great Divergence’ across Europe, 1300-1600”, European Review of Economic History, 11/3, 289-317.
Recent historiography has dramatically changed the way the impact of the Black Death on the European economy was perceived. It came to be seen as a ‘creative destruction’ process, a source of “long-term changes that paved the way for the emergence of modern Europe” (p.290). In their research for the origins of the Industrial Revolution and the Rise of the West, historians have also pointed out the significance of the differences in real wages between Northwestern Europe and the Mediterranean world (p.291). Yet, the wages gap between these two regions originated even before the 1600s (p.292).
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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 »
March 23, 2008
Goldstone Jack A. (1988) “East and West in the Seventeenth Century: Political Crises in Stuart England, Ottoman Turkey, and Ming China”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 30/1, 103-142.
Criticism of the previous interpretations:
- Too Eurocentric: they assume that the West was the epicentre of a crisis due to the rise of capitalism and of the modern state (Marx and Weber). Significantly, the crisis seems to have had more consequences in the East than in the West. The simultaneity of the English revolution, the Anatolian turmoil and the end of the Ming is not either merely casual: “behind all of these events lay a common causal framework rooted in a wide-ranging ecological crisis” (104). The author intends to “note certain cogent similarities that make comparative analysis possible” (105). Read the rest of this entry »