Procedures involved in succession process among asian and african owned business
HISTORY OF TRADEThe market placeTrade provides mankinds most significant meeting place, the market. In primitive societies onlyreligious events - cult rituals, or rites of passage such as marriage - bring people together in acomparable way. But in these cases the participants are already linked, by custom or kinship.The process of barter brings a crowd together in a more random fashion. New ideas, along withprecious artefacts, have always travelled along trade routes. And the natural week, the sharedrhythm of a community, has frequently been the space between market days.Agricultural produce and everyday household goods tend to make short journeys to and from alocal market. Trade in a grander sense, between distant places, is a different matter. It involvesentrepreneurs and middlemen, people willing to accept delay and risk in the hope of a largeprofit. The archive found at Ebla gives a glimpse of an early trading city, from the middle of thethird millennium BC.When travel is slow and dangerous, the traders commodities must be as nearly as possibleimperishable; and they must be valuable in relation to their size. Spices fit the bill. So do richtextiles. And, above all, precious ornaments of silver and gold, or useful items in copper, bronzeor iron.As the most valuable of commodities (in addition to being compact and easily portable), metalsare a great incentive to trade. The extensive deposits of copper on Cyprus bring the island muchwealth from about 3000 BC (Cyprus, in Latin, gives copper its name - cyprium corrupted tocuprum).Later, when the much scarcer commodity of tin is required to make bronze, even distantCornwall becomes - by the first millennium BC - a major supplier of the needs of Bronze AgeEurope.
Waterborne traffic: 3000-1000 BCBy far the easiest method of transporting goods is by water, particularly in an era when townsand villages are linked by footpaths rather than roads. The first extensive trade routes are up anddown the great rivers which become the backbones of early civilizations - the Nile, the Tigrisand Euphrates, the Indus and the Yellow River.As boats become sturdier, coastal trade extends human contact and promotes wealth. The easternMediterranean is the first region to develop extensive maritime trade, first between Egypt andMinoan Crete and then - in the ships of the intrepid Phoenicians - westwards through the chain ofMediterranean islands and along the north African coast.Phoenicia is famous for its luxury goods. The cedar wood is not only exported as top-qualitytimber for architecture and shipbuilding. It is also carved by the Phoenicians, and the same skillis adapted to even more precious work in ivory. The rare and expensive dye, Tyrian purple,complements another famous local product, fine linen. The metalworkers of the region arefamous, particularly in gold. And Tyre and Sidon are known for their glass.These are only the products which the Phoenicians export. As traders and middlemen they take acut on a much greater Cornucopia of precious goods - as the prophet Ezekiel grudgingly admits.The caravan: from 1000 BCIn the parched regions of north Africa and Asia two different species of camel become the most
important beasts of burden - the single-humped Arabian camel (in north Africa, the Middle East,India) and the double-humped Bactrian camel (central Asia, Mongolia). Both are well adapted todesert conditions. They can derive water, when none is available elsewhere, from the fat storedin their humps.It is probable that they are first domesticated in Arabia. By about 1000 BC caravans of camelsare bringing precious goods up the west coast of Arabia, linking India with Egypt, Phoenicia andMesopotamia. This trade route brings prosperity to Petra, a natural stronghold just north of theGulf of Aqaba on the route from the Red Sea up to the Mediterranean coast. In the heyday of thekingdom of Israel, around 1000 BC, this important site is occupied by the Edomites - bitterenemies of the Israelite kings, David and Solomon.In the 4th century BC the Edomites are displaced by an Arab tribe, the Nabataeans. They sooncome into conflict with new neighbours in Mesopotamia, the Seleucid Greeks, who have aninterest in diverting trade from the Gulf of Aqaba.New routes to the west: from 300 BCThe presence of Greeks in Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean encourages a new traderoute. To ease the transport of goods to Greece and beyond, Seleucus founds in 300 BC a city atthe northeast tip of the Mediterranean. He calls it Antioch, in honour of his own father,Antiochus. Its port, at the mouth of the river, is named after himself - Seleucia.Here goods are put on board ship after arriving in caravans from Mesopotamia. The journey hasbegun in another new city, also called Seleucia, founded in 312 BC by Seleucus as the capital of
his empire. It is perfectly placed for trade, at the point where a canal from the Euphrates linkswith the Tigris.Doura-Europus, a frontier town: from the 3rd century BCThe first major stopping point for the caravans on the route from Mesopotamia to Syria is the oldBabylonian town of Doura, on the west bank of the Euphrates. Rebuilt by Seleucus in about 300BC, it is given the new name of Europus.This settlement later becomes of great importance as a frontier post, when the Euphrates is theboundary between successive empires.Palmyra: from 300 BC The other great staging post on the route to Antioch is also an important site, andtoday a much more visible one. It is Palmyra, famous as one of the great ruined classical cities.From Doura-Europus, on the Euphrates, the caravans strike west through the desert to theMediterranean coast. Palmyra is an oasis half way across this difficult terrain. Its wealth derivesfrom its position on the east-west axis from Persia to the coast, in addition to being on the olderroutes up from Mesopotamia. In the 1st century BC, when Palmyra is on the verge of its greatestprosperity, a rich new supply of goods begins to arrive from the east along the Silk Road. But bynow neither Persia nor Mesopotamia are Greek.
A trade route from China: 2nd century BCA tentative trade route is becoming established along a string of oases north of the Himalayas.They are very exposed to the broad expanse of steppes - from which marauding bands ofnomadic tribesmen are liable to descend at any moment - but protection by the Han dynasty inChina is now making it reasonably safe for merchants to send caravans into this region. Thegoods are usually unloaded in each oasis and traded or bartered before continuing the journeywestwards - where rich customers around the Mediterranean are eager for the luxury products ofthe east.In 106 BC, for the first time, a caravan leaves China and travels through to Persia without thegoods changing hands on the way. The Silk Road is open.In the 1st century BC the Romans gain control of Syria and Palestine - the natural terminus of theSilk Road, for goods can move west more easily from here by sea. Soon a special silk market isestablished in Rome.China, proudly self-sufficient, wants nothing that Rome can offer. And the Han rulers areunwilling to release silk - either as thread or woven fabric - except in exchange for gold. It hasbeen calculated that in the 1st century AD China has a hoard of some five million ounces ofgold. In Rome the emperor Tiberius issues a decree against the wearing of silk. His stated reasonis the drain on the empires reserves of gold. The Silk Road introduces global economics.Read more:http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?groupid=1916&HistoryID=ab72>rack=pthc#ixzz1rjQM66Q9
World trade: from the 1st century ADThe Silk Road links east Asia and western Europe at a time when each has, in its own region, amore sophisticated commercial network than ever before.The caravan routes of the Middle East and the shipping lanes of the Mediterranean haveprovided the worlds oldest trading system, ferrying goods to and fro between civilizations fromIndia to Phoenicia. Now the Roman dominance of the entire Mediterranean, and of Europe as farnorth as Britain, gives the merchants vast new scope to the west. At the same time a maritimelink, of enormous commercial potential, opens up between India and China.The map of the world offers no route so promising to a merchant vessel as the coastal journeyfrom India to China. Down through the Straits of Malacca and then up through the South ChinaSea, there are at all times inhabited coasts not far off to either side. It is no accident that Calcuttais now at one end of the journey, Hong Kong at the other, and Singapore in the middle.Indian merchants are trading along this route by the 1st century AD, bringing with them the tworeligions, Hinduism and Buddhism, which profoundly influence this entire region.The trading kingdoms of West Africa: 5th - 15th c. ADA succession of powerful kingdoms in West Africa, spanning a millennium, are unusual in thattheir great wealth is based on trade rather than conquest. Admittedly much warfare goes onbetween them, enabling the ruler of the most powerful state to demand the submission of theothers. But this is only the background to the main business of controlling the caravans ofmerchants and camels.These routes run north and south through the Sahara. And the most precious of the commoditiesmoving north is African gold.
The first kingdom to establish full control over the southern end of the Saharan trade is Ghana -situated not in the modern republic of that name but in the southwest corner of what is now Mali,in the triangle formed between the Senegal river to the west and the Niger to the east.Ghana is well placed to control the traffic in gold from Bambuk, in the valley of the Senegal.This is the first of the great fields from which the Africans derive their alluvial gold (meaninggold carried downstream in a river and deposited in silt, from which grains and nuggets can beextracted).Like subsequent great kingdoms in this region, Ghana is at a crossroads of trade routes. TheSaharan caravans link the Mediterranean markets to the north with the supply of African rawmaterials to the south. Meanwhile along the savannah (or open grasslands) south of the Saharacommunication is easy on an east-west axis, bringing to any commercial centre the produce ofthe whole width of the continent.While gold is the most valuable African commodity, slaves run it a close second. They comemainly from the region around Lake Chad, where the Zaghawa tribes make a habit of raidingtheir neighbours and sending them up the caravan routes to Arab purchasers in the north.Other African products in demand around the Mediterranean are ivory, ostrich feathers and thecola nut (containing caffeine and already popular 1000 years ago as the basis for a soft drink).The most important commodity coming south with the caravans is salt, essential in the diet ofAfrican agricultural communities. The salt mines of the Sahara (sometimes controlled by Berber
tribes from the north, sometimes by Africans from the south) are as valuable as the gold fields ofthe African rivers (see Salt mines and caravans). Traders from the north also bring dates and awide range of metal goods - weapons, armour, and copper either in its pure form or as brass (thealloy of copper and zinc).These various goods, travelling some 1200 miles from one end of the trade route to the other,rarely go in a single caravan for the whole distance. They are unloaded and packed on to newtransport, as specialists undertake each very different section of the journey - to the edge of thedesert (either from the Mediterranean coast or from the African forest and savannah) and thenfrom oasis to oasis through the Sahara.In the same way goods are likely to be bought and sold on the route by specialist middlemen,with whom merchants naturally establish their own regular contacts. In this way tradingpartnerships develop, often made up of members of the same community or even a single family.Vikings in Russia: from the 9th century ADUnusually for the Vikings, trade rather than plunder is the main reason for their penetration deepinto Russia during the 9th century AD. The rivers of eastern Europe, flowing north and south,make it surprisingly easy for goods to travel between the Baltic and the Black Sea.One spot is particularly well-favoured as a trading centre. Near Lake Ilmen the headwaters of theDvina, Dnieper and Volga rivers are close to each other. Respectively they flow into the Baltic,the Black Sea and the Caspian. Goods ferried by water between these important trading regionsconverge on this area. By the early 9th century Viking tribes known as the Rus have a base onthe site of Novgorod.
Although they are not Slavs, there is justice in the Rus giving Russia her name. Theirdevelopment of trade, particularly down the Dnieper (a route which becomes known asAustrvegr, or the Great Waterway), lays the foundation of the Russian nation.In 882 a Viking leader, Oleg, moves his headquarters down the Dnieper, seizing the town ofKiev. Here, in 911, he negotiates a commercial treaty with the Byzantine empire.A Viking successor of Olegs in Kiev, two generations later, describes how this first Russian cityis the centre of a triangular trade between civilized Byzantium in the south, the steppe lands inthe middle, and the wild forests of the north.In this place all goods gather from all parts: gold, clothes, wine, fruits from the Greeks; silverand horses from the Czechs and Hungarians; furs, wax, honey and slaves from the Rus.The Pax Mongolica and the Silk Road: 13th - 14th c. ADBy the middle of the 13th century the family of Genghis Khan controls Asia from the coast ofChina to the Black Sea. Not since the days of the Han and Roman empires, when the Silk Roadis first opened, has there been such an opportunity for trade. In the intervening centuries theeastern end of the Silk Road has been unsafe because of the Chinese inability to control thefierce nomads of the steppes (nomads such as the Mongols), and the western end has beenunsettled by the clash between Islam and Christianity.Now, with the Mongols policing the whole route, there is stability. In an echo of the PaxRomana, the period is often described as the Pax Mongolica.
In 1340 an Italian guide book is published giving merchants practical advice on the journey.They should let their beards grow, to be inconspicuous in Asia. They will be more comfortable ifthey hire a woman near the Black Sea to look after their needs on the journey. The assurance thatthe road is safe has an alarming ring to our ears: If you are some sixty men in the company, youwill go as safely as if you were in your own house. But the List of commodities changing handson the route can be guaranteed to quicken the pulse of any ambitious trader.Trade with the Mongol east is best known through the adventures of three Italian merchants -Marco Polo, with his father and uncle.Hanseatic League: 12th - 17th century ADIn 1159 Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony and Bavaria, builds a new German town on a site whichhe has captured the previous year. It is Lübeck, perfectly placed to benefit from developing tradein the Baltic. Goods from the Netherlands and the Rhineland have their easiest access to theBaltic through Lübeck. For trade in the opposite direction, a short land journey from Lübeckacross the base of the Danish peninsula brings goods easily to Hamburg and the North Sea.Over the next two centuries Lübeck and Hamburg, in alliance, become the twin centres of anetwork of trading alliances known later as the Hanseatic League.A Hanse is a guild of merchants. Associations of German merchants develop in the great citieson or near the Baltic (Gdansk, Riga, Novgorod, Stockholm), on the coasts of the North Sea(Bergen, Bremen) and in western cities where the Baltic trade can be profitably brokered - inparticular Cologne, Bruges and London.
It suits these German merchants, and the towns which benefit from their efforts, to form mutualalliances to further the flow of trade. Safe passage for everyones goods is essential. The controlof pirates becomes a prime reason for cooperation, together with other measures (such aslighthouses and trained pilots) to improve the safety of shipping.The rapid growth of Hanseatic trade during the 13th century is part of a general pattern ofincreasing European prosperity. During this period the towns with active German hansegradually organize themselves in a more formal league, with membership fees and regular dietsto agree policies of mutual benefit. By the 14th century there about 100 such towns, some ofthem as far afield as Iceland and Spain. Their German communities effectively control the tradeof the Baltic and North Sea.But economic decline during the 14th century takes its toll on the success of the Hanseatictowns. So do political developments around the Baltic.In 1386 Poland and Lithuania merge, soon winning the region around Gdansk from the Teutonicknights. On the opposite shore of the sea, the three Scandinavian kingdoms are united in 1389;the new monarchy encompasses Stockholm, previously an independent Hanseatic town. Acentury later, when Ivan III annexes Novgorod, he expels the German merchants.Such factors contribute to the gradual decline of the Hanseatic League. What began as a positiveunion to promote trade becomes a restrictive league, attempting to protect German interestsagainst foreign competitors. But great enterprises fade slowly. The final Hanseatic diet is held aslate as 1669.Ups and downs in the economy: 12th - 14th century AD
Throughout Europe the period from about 1150 to 1300 sees a steady increase in prosperity,linked with a rise in population. There are several reasons. More land is brought into cultivation -a process in which the Cistercians play an important part. Rich monasteries, controlled bypowerful abbots, become a significant feature of feudal Europe.In tandem with the improvement in rural wealth is the development of cities thriving on trade, inluxury goods as well as staple products such as wool.Prominent among the trading centres of the 13th century are the coastal Italian cities, whosemerchants ply the Mediterranean; Venice is particularly prosperous after the opportunitiespresented by the fourth crusade. In a similar way the cities of the Netherlands are well placed toprofit from commerce between their three larger neighbours - England, France and the Germanstates. And the Hanseatic towns handle the trade from the Baltic.Together with this increase in trade goes the development of banking. Christian families,particularly in the towns of northern Italy, begin to amass fortunes by offering the financialservices which have previously been the preserve of the Jews.In the 14th century this economic prosperity falters. Land goes out of cultivation, the volume oftrade drops. There are various possible reasons. There is an unusual run of disastrously badharvests in many areas in the early part of the century. And social structures are painfullyadjusting, as the old feudal system of obligations crumbles.The final straw is the Black Death, which not only kills a third of Europes population in 1348-9;it also ushers in an era when plague is a recurrent hazard. The 14th century is not the best inwhich to live. But in the 15th century - the time of the Renaissance in Europe, and the age ofexploration - economic conditions improve again.
The Portuguese slave trade: 15th - 17th century ADThe Portuguese expeditions of the 15th century bring European ships for the first time intoregular contact with sub-Saharan Africa. This region has long been the source of slaves for theroute through the Sahara to the Mediterranean. The arrival of the Portuguese opens up anotherchannel.Nature even provides a new collection point for this human cargo. The volcanic Cape VerdeIslands, with their rocky and forbidding coastlines, are uninhabited. But they contain lushtropical valleys. And they are well placed on the sea routes between West Africa, Europe andAmerica.Portuguese settlers move into the Cape Verde islands in about 1460. In 1466 they are given aneconomic advantage which guarantees their prosperity. They are granted a monopoly of a newslave trade. On the coast of Guinea the Portuguese are now setting up trading stations to buycaptive Negroes.Some of these slaves are used to work the settlers estates in the Cape Verde islands. Others aresent north for sale in Madeira, or in Portugal and Spain - where Seville now becomes animportant market. Negroes have been imported by this sea route into Europe since at least 1444,when one of Henry the Navigators expeditions returns with slaves exchanged for Moorishprisoners.The labour of the slaves in the Cape Verde Islands primes a profitable trade with the Africanregion which becomes known as Portuguese Guinea or the Slave Coast. The slaves work in the
Cape Verde plantations, growing cotton and indigo in the fertile valleys. They are also employedin weaving and dying factories, where these commodities are transformed into cloth.The cloth is exchanged in Guinea for slaves. And the slaves are sold for cash to the slaving shipswhich pay regular visits to the Cape Verde Islands.This African trade, together with the prosperity of the Cape Verde Islands, expands greatly withthe development of labour-intensive plantations growing sugar, cotton and tobacco in theCaribbean and America. The Portuguese enforce a monopoly of the transport of African slaves totheir own colony of Brazil. But other nations with transatlantic interests soon become the mainvisitors to the Slave Coast.By the 18th century the majority of the ships carrying out this appalling commerce are British.They waste no part of their journey, having evolved the procedure known as the triangular trade.Jacques Coeur, merchant: AD 1432-1451The career of Jacques Coeur vividly suggests the opportunities open to an enterprising merchantin the 15th century. The greatest source of trading wealth is the Mediterranean, linking Christianmarkets in the west with Muslim ones in the east - known at this time as the Levant, the land ofthe rising sun.Jacques Coeur enters this trade in 1432. He soon has seven galleys taking European cloth to theLevant and bringing back oriental spices. At Montpellier he builds a great warehouse to form thecentre of his trading operation.
Agents promote Jacques Coeurs business from a string of offices which link the Mediterraneansource of his wealth with the markets of western Europe. He is represented in Barcelona,Avignon, Lyons, Paris, Rouen and Bruges.Rapid commercial success and a marked political talent soon bring Jacques Coeur influence ingovernment. Master of the mint in Paris from 1436, he is put in charge of royal expenditure threeyears later. In 1441 he is ennobled. In 1442 he becomes a member of the kings council.These are heady years in which to be close to the French court, as Charles VII recovers hiskingdom in the closing stages of the Hundred Years War. The king returns at last to Paris in1437, the year after Jacques Coeurs appointment to head the royal mint in the capital city. WhenCharles wins Normandy in 1450, he is financed by a large loan from his commercial friend.Jacques Coeur enters Rouen in pomp and ceremony beside the king.Meanwhile in Bourges, where for so many years Charles VII held his court, the merchant hasbuilt himself a house fit for a king. The Palace of Jacques Coeur, still surviving, is a spectacularexample of 15th-century domestic architecture.Such conspicuous wealth and power in an upstart brings its own dangers. Jacques Coeur has lentlarge sums to many in court circles. Greed and envy alike prompt his ruin. The king is persuadedthat Jacques Coeur is guilty of various financial crimes and may even be responsible for thedeath of Charless mistress, Agnès Sorel, in 1450.Jacques Coeur is arrested and imprisoned in 1451. He escapes two years later and makes his wayto Rome to serve the pope. All his possessions have been confiscated. Nothing survives of themighty merchants kingdom. Jacques Coeurs story reflects the dangers of the age - but also, evenmore abundantly, its opportunities.
Chinese sea trade: 15th century The greatest extent of Chinese trade is achieved in the early 15th century whenZheng He, a Muslim eunuch, sails far and wide with a fleet of large junks. At various timesbetween 1405 and 1433 he reaches the Persian Gulf, the coast of Africa (returning with a giraffeon board) and possibly even Australia.Typical Chinese exports are now porcelain, lacquer, silks, items of gold and silver, and medicinalpreparations. The junks return with herbs, spices, ivory, rhinoceros horn, rare varieties of wood,jewels, cotton and ingredients for making dyes.Europes inland waterways: 15th-17th century ADTrade up and down great rivers and in coastal waters is as old as civilization. Trade across seasdevelops as soon as adequate boats are built, most notably by the Phoenicians. The natural nextstage is to join river systems and even seas by man-made canals. Pioneered in Egypt and Chinain very ancient times, this development does not occur in Europe until the 15th century AD.With prosperity beginning to pick up after the depression following the Black Death, merchantshave need of cheap and reliable transport. Europes roads are rutted tracks, the use of which isslow and dangerous. There is good commercial reason to connect the rivers, the arteries of trade.The merchants of Lübeck take the first step.
From 1391 the Stecknitz canal is constructed southwards from the city of Lübeck. Its destinationis the Elbe, which is reached early in the 15th century. The new waterway joins the Baltic to theNorth Sea.This canal rises some 40 feet from Lübeck to the region of Möllner and then falls the sameamount again to reach the Elbe, all in a distance of 36 miles. This must be about the limit whichcan be safely achieved with flash locks. With mitre locks, from the 16th century, anything ispossible. And the most ambitious projects are undertaken in France.The Briare canal, completed in 1642, joins the Seine to the Loire; at one point it has a staircaseof six consecutive locks to cope with a descent of 65 feet over a short distance. Even moreremarkable is the Canal du Midi, completed in 1681, which joins the Mediterranean to theAtlantic by means of 150 miles of man-made waterway linking the Aude and Garonne rivers. Atone point this canal descends 206 feet in 32 miles; three aqueducts are constructed to carry itover rivers; a tunnel 180 yards long pierces through one patch of high ground.The potential of canals is self-evident. It falls to Britain, in the next century, to construct the firstintegrated system of waterborne traffic.Read more:http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?groupid=1920&HistoryID=ab72>rack=pthc#ixzz1rjRdfqxdPortugals eastern trade: AD 1508-1595The profitable trade in eastern spices is cornered by the Portuguese in the 16th century to thedetriment of Venice, which has previously had a virtual monopoly of these valuable commodities- until now brought overland through India and Arabia, and then across the Mediterranean by theVenetians for distribution in western Europe.By establishing the sea route round the Cape, Portugal can undercut the Venetian trade with itsprofusion of middlemen. The new route is firmly secured for Portugal by the activities of Afonsode Albuquerque, who takes up his duties as the Portuguese viceroy of India in 1508.
The early explorers up the east Africa coast have left Portugal with bases in Mozambique andZanzibar. Albuquerque extends this secure route eastwards by capturing and fortifying Hormuzat the mouth of the Persian Gulf in 1514, Goa on the west coast of India in 1510 (where hemassacres the entire Muslim population for the effrontery of resisting him) and Malacca,guarding the narrowest channel of the route east, in 1511.The island of Bombay is ceded to the Portuguese in 1534. An early Portuguese presence in SriLanka is steadily increased during the century. And in 1557 Portuguese merchants establish acolony on the island of Macao. Goa functions from the start as the capital of Portuguese India.Rivals in the overseas trade: AD 1555-1595With this chain of fortified ports of call, and with no vessels in the Indian Ocean capable ofchallenging her power at sea, Portugal has a monopoly of the eastern spice trade.Indeed the English, now developing interests of their own in ocean commerce, consider that theironly hope of trade with the far east is to find a route north of Russia. One of the first joint-stockenterprises, the Muscovy Company chartered in 1555, results from early efforts to find anortheast passage.Of the other Atlantic maritime powers, Spain is mainly occupied with its Americanresponsibilities. And the Dutch enjoy a direct benefit from Portugals trade. Their ships have amonopoly in ferrying the precious eastern cargoes from Lisbon to northern Europe.
The situation changes suddenly in 1580, when the Spanish (perennial enemies of the Dutch)occupy Portugal.The Spanish leave control of the Portuguese empire to Lisbon, but the political change in itselfdoes damage to Portugals trading interests. Deprived now of their share of the eastern trade, theDutch resolve to build up a commerce of their own. Like the English, their first instinct is to lookfor a northeast passage (a task which takes Willem Barents into uncharted waters). But in 1595they decide that their best course of action is to challenge the Portuguese on the southern route.It is a decision which will lead to major changes in the eastern trade. But in the short term, thegreater volume of trade is now being carried out by Spain across the Atlantic.Trade winds: from the 16th century ADThe development of ocean travel in the 16th century brings with it an increasing knowledge ofwind patterns. The phrase trade wind is ancient. Deriving from an old use of trade to mean afixed track, it is applied to any wind which follows a predictable course. Since such winds can beof great value to merchant ships making long ocean voyages, the term becomes understood in the18th century to mean winds which favour trade.The best known trade winds are those in the Atlantic which blow from the northeast in thenorthern hemisphere and from the southeast south of the equator. This predictable patternexplains why ships sailing between Europe and the Cape take a wide curving course through theAtlantic.
Even more useful as trade winds are the monsoons which blow in the Indian Ocean. Theirparticular benefit to long-distance merchantmen is a change of direction at different seasons ofthe year. The northeast monsoon blows from October to March and the southwest monsoon fromApril to September.East Indiamen therefore schedule their journeys to arrive at their eastern destination before thespring, and to depart for Europe again during the summer.Spanish silver: 16th century ADThe wealth of Spains new colonies in Latin America derives mainly from silver. In 1545 aprodigious source of the metal is discovered at Potosí, in modern Bolivia. This region, high inthe Andes, is so rich in both silver and tin that it eventually has as many as 5000 working mines.In 1546, a year after the discovery at Potosí, silver is found at Zacatecas in Mexico. Other majornew sources of the metal are found in Mexico in the next few years. At the same time sources ofgold are being tapped, though in much less quantity.Convoys of Spanish caravels, after delivering to Portobelo the European goods needed in thecolonies, carry back to Spain the precious bullion with which the colonists pay for it - togetherwith the 20% of all gold and silver due to the Spanish crown.These treasures attract privateers from northern Europe - meaning privately owned vesselsoperating, even if informally, on behalf of a government. Their captains are drawn to the SpanishMain (the mainland of Spanish America, where the ships dock) like wasps to a honey pot. Sailorsfrom England, such as Francis Drake, prey on the Spanish fleets in what is effectively aprogramme of national piracy.
At the Spanish end, all trade has to be channelled through the official Casa de Contratación(House of Trade) established in Seville in 1503. This monopoly brings great wealth to Seville,and an increase in prosperity from this flow of bullion spreads outwards through Europe. Theregion of Seville, and indeed the whole of Spain, cannot provide all the goods required by thecolonists. Raw materials and manufactured goods from far flung regions make their way toSeville for transport to America.Europe in the 16th century is already experiencing, for other reasons, an inflationary pressure.The Spanish bullion has an added effect in pushing prices up.The Atlantic cod trade: AD 1497-1583The voyage of John Cabot in 1497 directs European attention to the rich stocks of fish in thewaters around Newfoundland. Soon fishing fleets from the Atlantic nations of Europe aremaking annual visits to catch cod. They bring with them large supplies of salt. Summersettlements are established, on the coasts of Newfoundland, to process the fish before it istransported back to European markets in the autumn.England plays a leading role in the trade, and in 1583 Humphrey Gilbert formally annexesNewfoundland on behalf of the English queen. It is a claim which does not go undisputed -particularly by France, whose fleets are the main rivals of the English in these waters.Dutch trade in the east: AD 1595-1651The first Dutch expedition round the Cape to the far east, in 1595, is captained by Jan Huyghenvan Linschoten, a Netherlands merchant whose only knowledge of the orient comes from tradingin Lisbon. The survivors of this journey get back to Holland two years later. They bring valuable
cargo. And they have established a trading treaty with the sultan of Bantam, in Java.Their return prompts great excitement. Soon about ten private vessels are setting off each yearfrom the Netherlands to find their fortune in the east. The States General of the newlyindependent Dutch republic decide that this unlicensed trading activity, in distant and dangerouswaters, needs both control and protection.In 1602 the States General form a Dutch East India Company, with extensive privileges andpowers. It is to have a tax-free monopoly of the eastern trade for twenty-one years. It isauthorized to build forts, establish colonies, mint coins, and maintain a navy and army asrequired.With these powers the company takes only a few decades to deprive Portugal of the spice trade.A capital is established at Batavia, in Java, in 1619. The Portuguese are driven out of Malacca by1641 and from Sri Lanka by 1658. But the main focus of Dutch attention is the Moluccas - theIndonesian islands of which the alternative name, the Spice Islands, declares their centralimportance in the eastern trade.The Moluccas are the source of the most valuable spice of all, the clove, coveted for manydifferent purposes - as a flavour in food, as a preservative, as a mild anaesthetic, as an ingredientin perfume, even to mask stinking breath. In pursuit of Moluccan cloves, and also nutmegs, thePortuguese make local treaties as early as 1512.In the early decades of the 17th century the Dutch East India Company gradually excludes thePortuguese from trade in the Moluccas. The Dutch also take on, and oust from the islands,another European nation attempting to get a foothold in the region - the English East IndiaCompany.
The Dutch control the trade in cloves with ruthless efficiency. During the 17th century clovetrees are eradicated on all the Spice Islands except two - Amboina and Ternate - to limitproduction and keep prices high. Strict measures are taken to ensure that plants are not exportedfor propagation elsewhere (a restriction successfully maintained until the late 18th century).The Portuguese never recover their trading strength in the east. But in expelling the English fromthe Moluccas, the Dutch unwittingly do them a favour. The English East India Company decidesto concentrate its efforts on India.English trade in the east: 17th century ADOn the last day of the year 1600 Elizabeth I grants a charter to a Company of Merchants tradinginto the East Indies. Early voyages prove successful; by 1614 the East India Company ownstwenty-four ships. But competition with the Dutch in the spice islands leads to violence,culminating in a massacre of English merchants at Amboina by their Dutch rivals in 1623.This disaster causes the company to concentrate on its interests in India. In 1613 a factory(meaning a secure warehouse for the accumulation of Indian textiles, spices and indigo) has beenformally established on the west coast, at Surat. The first English vessel with a cargo of theseIndian goods sails from Surat in 1615.Surat remains the English headquarters on the west coast until it is gradually replaced, between1672 and 1687, by Bombay (given to Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry of his Portuguesebride, Catherine of Braganza, and leased by him to the company in 1668).Meanwhile the English are establishing secure footholds on the east coast. Fort St George is
begun at Madras in 1640 and is completed in 1644. Calcutta is eventually selected, in 1690, asthe best site for a trading station in the Ganges delta; it is fortified, as Fort William, in 1696. Bythe end of the 17th century the three English presidencies of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta aresecurely established.Triangular trade: 18th century ADThe triangular trade has an economic elegance most attractive to the owners of the slave ships.Each of the three separate journeys making up an expedition is profitable in its own right, withonly the middle voyage across the Atlantic involving slaves as cargo.Ships depart from Liverpool or Bristol with items in demand in west Africa - these includefirearms, alcohol (particularly rum), cotton goods, metal trinkets and beads. The goods areeagerly awaited by traders in ports around the Gulf of Guinea. These traders have slaves on offer,captured in the African interior and now awaiting transport to America.With the first exchange of merchandise completed, the slaves are packed into the vessels inappalling conditions for the Atlantic crossing. They are crammed below decks, shackled, badlyfed and terrified. It is estimated that as many as twelve million Africans are embarked on thisjourney during the course of the Atlantic slave trade, and that one in six dies before reaching theWest Indies - where the main slave markets on the American side of the ocean are located.The most valuable product of the West Indies, molasses extracted from sugar cane, is purchasedfor the last leg of the triangle. Back in England the molasses can be transformed into rum. Andso it goes on.