The Importance Of The Silk Road In Portugal

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(1) Introduction
The Silk Road was an ancient trade route, which ran from China and India to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Goods, such as Chinese silk and Indian spices, were traded along it using camels on the overland route (Newitt, 2005, pp. 2-3). Portugal, being located on the Atlantic coast, was therefore at the fringe of the Silk Road. However, Portugal managed to create a colonial empire despite being a country of marginal importance in the early Middle Ages (Disney, 2009, p. I).
The Silk Road is one of the relatively few factors in the onset of Portuguese exploration (Newitt, 2005). Most scholars (e.g. Disney, 2009; Frankopan, 2015) who wrote about the topic of the onset of Portuguese exploration nevertheless have a
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2-5) argues that Europe, therefore Portugal too, had an unfavourable commercial position. Even though Europeans were eager to purchase exotic goods that were traded along the Silk Road, their only method of payment for the goods was bullion. He argues that the reason for this was that Europeans had no other products that were in demand in the East. As a result, Europeans would start to look for other sources of these metals. As Anderson (2000, pp. 51-56) states, the first Portuguese voyages of exploration had the aim of finding gold to finance its trade with the …show more content…
Furthermore, the price of these goods was high, as the goods had been transferred from merchant to merchant, each time adding up to the price (Anderson, 2000, pp. 51-56). With the rise of the Ottomans and the Mamelukes, the prices of these goods went up even more, providing the Portuguese an economic incentive to look for new routes to the East. This meant that the Portuguese wanted to henceforth purchase goods directly from the suppliers, to be able to get a lower purchasing price and gain profits at the same time. Moreover, they would be freed of the conditions that were set on trading by the Ottomans and Mamelukes (Anderson, 2000; Diffie & Winius, 1977; Hansen, 2012). Furthermore, the scholars Diffie and Winius (1977, pp. 16-17) Anderson (2000, pp. 51-56) and Frankopan (2015, p. 221) note that Italian cities, such as Venice and Genoa, would monopolise the distribution of the goods arriving in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean ports to the rest of Europe. They note that this monopolised trade was highly profitable, which Portugal at the time also recognised. This therefore too was one of the stimuli for Portugal to start searching for a direct route to the East. The role of Genoa will be further elaborated on in the next

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