Revisionist history of 17th century Mediterranean trade

Molly Greene describes the complex anarchy that existed between the collapse of the Mediterranean powers and the entry of northern fleets.

Over at the wide-ranging and consistently interesting Economic History Blog, Ben reviews an article by Molly Greene which says that the northern powers did not simply displace the Mediterranean ones, but that instead there was a sort of interregnum, a vacuum filled by “pirates and lesser powers such as Malta [who] created a climate of constant violence on the sea. Commercially smaller players thrived, in particular the Greeks.” Echoing what we already know of the Reconquista–by no means simply Moors vs Christians–he writes:

Unlike what the commonly used lexicon of Holy War could let us believe, there was no strict religious divide. Merchants from a religion were often protected by governments of another religion, while pirates regularly attacked coreligionists. “Certain apparently impermeable boundaries were actually crossed with some regularity and little fuss”. For instance, the English captains were forced by treaty to defend their Muslim Tunisian passengers against Christian pirates.

Read the rest.

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