13th Century Spice Trade

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Shortie
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13th Century Spice Trade

Postby Shortie » Tue May 03, 2011 1:09 pm

Hi

I'm currently researching the spice trade between the mediterranean and the arab world in the 13th Century.

From what I have found the trade route was still open and Venice had the monopoly on the trade.

However....I have found lots of references to the spices/herbs which were traded from the Arab world to Europe but cannot find any references to trade the other way round.
Ie mediterranean herbs/spices which were used in the Arab countries wether for medicinal or culinary purposes. I am after the specific herbs

Some of the obvious ones I would have a guess at would be rosemary, Thyme, Lavender. But I'm not sure if theyre uses in Europe would have necessarily been the same in the Arab world?

If anyone can help shed any light on were I can find any information I would be very grateful.

Many thanks :D


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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby sally » Tue May 03, 2011 1:18 pm

what an interesting research topic. Do you read Arabic? I would think you will need to be reading some of the Arab texts on food and medicine as well as looking at trade documents. What about Byzantium, anything useful coming out of Byzantine records, off hand I'm thinking things like Book of teh Eparch, though its earlier than yoru dateline, but does it have any unseful suggestions on trade commodities that might point you at the right sorts of traders to be looking at in more detail?



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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby sally » Tue May 03, 2011 1:42 pm

just pondering, but I wonder if one reason that you arent seeing much recipricol trading of herbs is that the trade isnt two way, but part of a larger more circular trade route with spices coming out of the East, into Arabia, out to the West but things from West moving eastwards in a different format? What Western items are being imported into Arabia at all at this date?



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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby Shortie » Tue May 03, 2011 5:45 pm

Thanks Sally...I'm going to have a deeper look into the route of the spice trail later

I have a general idea of what originated where and where the trade route went, but what I've seen so far doesn't say whether its more of a round route as you say....looking at some of the maps it would make sense that the trade route works in a more circular way than point to point.

If I can get confirmation of it then I'd have a much more solid foundation. I don't want to be saying the wrong things when I demonstrate.

I was hoping to say talk about two spices/resins from the Arab world and 2 from the mediterranean so I'm covering more than what was traded from Arabia to Europe, but covering Europe into the Arab countries too if this happened.

Alternatively for now until I can get a solid foundation it may be wise for me to concentrate on the Arab spices for now as I now these quite well.

Thanks for the advice so far! :D


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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby Shortie » Fri May 06, 2011 1:31 pm

Well....I haven't found anything concrete, but looking through the information I have found it appears that rather than trading like for like (ie herbs/spices) the Europeans traded in Gold,Silver,wool and even Saffron for the spices.

I've decided to cover the route from Indian, through persia and Arabia which should give a nice selection. I'm not going to research too many to begin with, but the ones I've chosen are Frankincense,Myrhh, Ginger, Cinnamon, Anise and Nutmeg

They should be a nice selection to work with. Obviously the public won't be tasting these, but it'll be interesting to see how many people are able to identify what they are. So many come ready ground or in ready mixed blends these days.

I've managed to get some dried root ginger and aniseeds along with the other resins/spices so it'll be a nice selection. No point in using anything too weird and wonderful as it won't make an impact.

I've also managed to work out which were the main sea ports used in the middle ages for the transportation of goods to Europe, specifically Venice.

Its a shame most of the literature i HAVE found is very general and tends to cover the same facts. Maybe a lot of it didn't get put down in writing??


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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby Dingo8MyBaby » Fri May 06, 2011 6:35 pm

Shortie wrote:Well....I haven't found anything concrete, but looking through the information I have found it appears that rather than trading like for like (ie herbs/spices) the Europeans traded in Gold,Silver,wool and even Saffron for the spices.

I've decided to cover the route from Indian, through persia and Arabia which should give a nice selection. I'm not going to research too many to begin with, but the ones I've chosen are Frankincense,Myrhh, Ginger, Cinnamon, Anise and Nutmeg

They should be a nice selection to work with. Obviously the public won't be tasting these, but it'll be interesting to see how many people are able to identify what they are. So many come ready ground or in ready mixed blends these days.

I've managed to get some dried root ginger and aniseeds along with the other resins/spices so it'll be a nice selection. No point in using anything too weird and wonderful as it won't make an impact.

I've also managed to work out which were the main sea ports used in the middle ages for the transportation of goods to Europe, specifically Venice.

Its a shame most of the literature i HAVE found is very general and tends to cover the same facts. Maybe a lot of it didn't get put down in writing??


Yes, out bound was a lot of gold and silver and high grade wool.

You could add rice to your list - of things imported if you go to around 1340/1355

Little came around Africa - lots came down the old spice roads as it was easier to transport in bulk that way, easier to guard and there were more safe locations to move between and trade it was not the same as trans shipping now as they traded as they progressed from what I have understood.



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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Thu May 12, 2011 1:30 pm

yes England exports in the 13thC were mainly wool but with a growing trade in cloth.

later (3 centurys?) we sent salted fish to the med.

and of course there would be tin from cornwall.

and possibly some leather from all the sheep and cattle!!

I'm not sure when Saffron was produced in England in commercial quantities e.g. Saffron Walden,


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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby Grymm » Tue May 24, 2011 12:11 pm

Did you mean aniseed or star anise which turns up much later.
Cinnamon is a wee bit tricky as there are summat like 80+ members of the family, canel, the term that turns up in the cookbooks, looks like it is cassia/chinese cinnamon as opposed to the true cinnamon fron Sri Lanka which gets called cinnamon(Turns up a lot less often than canel and often in the same recipes).
Nutmeg is another that rarely rocks up in cooking but mace(From around the nutmeg) is all over the place.


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Re: 13th Century Spice Trade

Postby randallmoffett » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:35 pm

Shortie,

If you are still researching this topic here is something that might be a good place to gather some more research.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook1j.html

By the later medieval period trade has become one of the main motivators in many regions. If you would like to see what England exports take a look at port and brokage (land trade) rolls.

Here is a place with a few such records. Take a Look at places like London, Southampton, York, Norwich and the likes.
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/statepapers.aspx

Basically it is not till the late 15th that men are going around Africa and not really until the early 16th century that men regularly are going around Africa's cape of good hope to the east. Bartholomew Diaz in 1488 is the first European we know of to reach the Cape of Good Hope. Previously from the end of the first quarter of the 15th century th Portuguese are sailing down the coast of Africa for trade but this shifts when the Ottomans basically end Byzantium so they need a way to get the spices and luxury good but cannot use their traditional route. As the Ottomans move further into the Middle East and the Atlantic routes grow in importance trade will decline in the Mediterranean.

Now previous to this though trade with the Mediterranean is still in full production.

Europe is a big place though so things like furs, timber and such might be a common in one area while wool or wine in another. European blades were imported in large numbers from Italy and at times Germany to places like Egypt.

I study towns as one of my main professional focuses so let me know if you are looking at a specific region.

Randall




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