Further historic evidence

Sat, 1 Mar 1997 21:16:57 +-100
barendse (rene.barendse@tip.nl)

-To quote Terry Bosdwell :
I feel downright obligated to offer a gentle retort to claims that =
from my perspective to be a bit extreme, :=20

Respectfully submitted - to the historical evidence!, four matters:

A.) In geographic terms, between
1450 and 1650 the W.European states managed to reverse the tide of
Arab/Turkish expansion and go on to conquer the Americas, large
portions of costal Africa, most of Indonesia, and critical trading
posts throughout Afrasia.=20

America certainly, although the extent of Spanish control beyond the =
cities and mining -centers should not be exagerated: more than 3/4 of =
South Americas were still not under anybody's control. As to North =
America.... well, you Americans should know.
I take strong exception to the claim, however, that most of `Indonesia' =
was controled by the Dutch let alone the Portuguese . That the =
Dutch ever controled or wanyted to control Indonesia in the =
seventeenth century is a myth dating from the nineteenth century. =
Actually, the Dutch East Insdia Company only controled the tiny island =
of Amboina a and Ternate (only a few hunderd kilometers) and a small =
coastal strip (the Ommelanden) a few dozen kilometers around =
Batavia//Jacarta . In 1650 the empire of Mataram still controled the =
hinterland of Java and the Dutch were still u there on the sufferance of =
the sultan of Mataram. That's it: perhaps less than 1/1000 th of the =
surface of Indonesia (which of course did not exist in the seventeenth =
century) anyhow)
Same thing for Africa: the European strongholds in West Africa only =
ciontroled a few miles around the settlement, and Europeans were not =
even permitted to go beyond these few miles. On the entire eastern =
coaast of Africa the Portuguese had only control of one minute island, =
Fort Jesu, Mombassa. The Dutch settlement on the Cape of Good Hope did =
not yet exist and throughout the rest of the seventeenth century =
consisted of but a few square miles of territory. The exceptions to the =
rule are Mozambique wghere the Portuguese really only controled the =
fortresses of Sofala and Mozambique but where they were permitted to =
trade in the deep interior ( but they were thrown out in 1695) and, =
finally, Angola where the Portuguese only controled the town of Luanda =
which had trade-links with the interior. A few `Portuguese' =
merchant/warriors conducted some trade with occasional use of force from =
there along the basin of the Congo. =20
Once again, the territory uwhich was really under European control -as =
opposed to armed trade in collaboration with African rulers or =
chieftains amounted to less than 1/10000 of Africa.
In the rest of Asia the only territory under European control was Goa =
in India- now look at thishis small speck on the map of India and =
remember that most territory of Goa was only added in 1754 and you will =
have some idea how significant the European territory in Asia is wwas =
in territorial terms.

B.)In terms of trade, the evidence points to a concurrent massive =
expansion, as indicated by the Baltic trade
increasing perhaps 10 fold, the EuroAsian sea trade increasing at
least 8 fold, and the Euroamerican sugar trade rising perhaps 3 fold=20

There is no denying the prodigious growth of trade in Europe after 1500; =
that Euro-Asian maritime trade increased is obvious (it finally emerged =
from nothing ....) and, to be sure, it did partly -and after 1620 =
largely replaced trade along the caravan-routes I do have a problem =
with a tenfold increase in Baltic trade though - increases like that =
are rare in the pre-industrial period and, anyhow, the standard-account =
of P.. Jeannin (Les comtes du Sond comme source pour la conjuncture =
Europeene) only comes to. -- if I remember rightly t - to a 200% =
increase and is to be used with caution. I once collaborated in a =
project to computerize the volume of the Sond trade and we got only 150 =
ic% =20
increase and even these figures are problematic. It has much to do =
with what was declared and what was not. The basic structure of =
Baltic trade was already firmly in place by 1400 -b which is not to deny =
that 150% increase is still dramatic. Same problem with Europe-American =
trade - recentnt research has raised great doubts aboutt Chaunu's =
figures which basically derive volumes and values of trade from the =
size of ships. The figure for the sugar trade seems realistic enough. =
While I will not enter the problem of price-inflation and its =
relationship with American silver here, note that there is a school of =
historians, which is arguing that the i European inflation predated =
the introduction of American silver in the 1540's and that Bohemian =
silver production was already increasingg after 1
1460 to cater for the demand for silver. American trade and American =
silver was not the cause fo but rather an effect of the restructuring =
of European trade and production in the sixteenth century.ry according =
to those historians.=20

C.)There are many production figures for the sixteenth century - this is =
particulary true for Spain and Italy and, as is well known the =
production of textiles, in Gerona for example, began to decrease -partly =
due to foreign competition- already by 1530, the same for parts of =
Italy. Thus, the increase of textile production in Honschooten (I guess =
that's what Terry Boswell is referring to) is not an indicator fg
of a general European increase. The textile-production at Leiden is a =
unique case and should not be used as an indication for European textile =
production.. What the production figures are pointing at i is not =
primarily growth but restructuring of textile-production, away form the =
medieval urban centrers and into the countryside and towards low-wage =

Which brings me to:=20

D.)This expansion, regardless of what changed in Asia, is not just bull. =

Rather, it was of such magnitude that the quantitative change became=20
a qualitative one. =20

Maybe, the trouble, though, is that quantitative changes were also =
occuring in Asia; thus, for example,=20
skipping the obvious case of the expansion of Inbdian textile =