The Floating State: Trade Embargoes & the Rise of the Fiscal State (Venice)

The Floating State: Trade Embargoes & the Rise of the Fiscal State (Venice), lecture by Dr. George Christ, King’s College London, September 30, 2014, 5:30pm

After the fall of Acre in 1291 a phase in the history of Crusades came to a close while a series of trade embargoes and maritime crusading projects sought to continue and revive crusade in the Eastern Mediterranean. While these endeavours naturally clashed with Venetian interests in the transcontinental spice trade, the papacy enforced them rather rigorously, at least in Venice. The pope's heavy-handed approach was thereby, perhaps, not only motivated by a genuine interest in the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre but also by more profane territorial claims on Ferrara, which had come under Venetian domination.

Venice was forced to comply - to an extent - with the embargoes and had to broker arrangements to continue Levant trade with papal blessing. This paper will focus on one element of this compromise in trade matters; the Venetian trade embargo of Ferrara compensating for the cessation of overlordship and in the context of the Serenissima's wider attempts to control trade in the upper Adriatic.

This seminar will look at the complex relationship of military might and fiscal exploitation through the lens of Venetian embargo policies and the rise of the Venetian coast guard/'standing navy' as a crucial element of Venetian statehood which was not only, but also, sea-born and sea-borne as the myth of Venice indeed maintained, although expressed in a different way.

Georg Christ received his PhD in Medieval History from the University of Basel in 2006 and afterwards completed a tour as UN military observer and deputy chief of a mission analysis centre in the Middle East. He has taught Late Medieval and Early Modern History at the University of Manchester since 2012. A specialist in the late medieval history of the Eastern Mediterranean, his recent publications include ‘The Venetian Consul and the Cosmopolitan Mercantile Community of Alexandria at the Beginning of the 15th century’, Al-Masaq: Studia Arabo-Islamica Mediterranea 26, no. 1 (April 2014) 62-77; ‘Did Greek wine become Port? Or why institutional interventions matter (c. 1350-1780)’, Quaderni Storici 143, no. 48, 2 (Aug 2013) 333-358; Trading Conflicts. Venetian Merchants and Mamluk Officials in Late Medieval Alexandria (Leiden: Brill, 2012), and ‘Eine Stadt wandert aus. Kollaps und Kontinuität im spätmittelalterlichen Alexandria’, Viator 42 (2011) 145-168. His current research focuses on trade embargoes in the Eastern Mediterranean and the realm of the Hansa in the 14th century, the Venetian diasporas in the Mamluk Empire, and the history of knowledge management.

Posted on Aug 7, 2014 in Lectures



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