Valeria Fiorani Piacentini


Abstract:It is remarkable how little attention has been given to a period of great significance in theevolution of Eastern–Western relationships, and their individual / intertwining historyand culture. During the 12th century new developments took place, which deeply affectedEurope and Central Asia, influencing – without changing the traditional basic structures –the attitude of their societies. On the Eastern Quadrant we witness the rise of newpotentates and dominions, and the reorganisation of the regional political asset under newbalances of power and institutional forces. On the Western Quadrant, new forces came tothe fore: the Italian City-States. Gradually, a stronger, well-organised asset sprang upfrom the ruins of the past. But its vitality stemmed from a new synthesis betweendifferent values and concepts which swept through the Mediterranean Sea, heralding theend of Byzantium and its system, and introducing a new world order with itscosmopolitan knowledge and learning and its closely intertwining cultural and mercantileinterests. Despite the competition from Venice, whose policy aimed at controlling theeastern waters of the Mediterranean Sea and achieving the monopoly of Euro-Asian tradeby diverting its flow through the Red Sea, Genoa had succeeded in putting into practice apragmatic policy, which allowed the republic to build up the most extensive andimpressive political-institutional and financial-commercial edifice of the time. A skillednautical experience and technology had brought a series of innovations both in sailingand warfare that soon significantly modified the traditional picture of maritime warfaredeveloping combat methods that would give Genoa unprecedented superiority at sea andon the seas. It was in this span of time that an important trade-route to/from the Black Seagrew up, and significant commercial relations were opened up by the peoples settled inthe Central Asian spaces with Genoese quarters (a sort of little “city-states”) and theiradvanced bases of the Black Sea.

Keywords:Genoa, Constantinople, Cyprus, Europe, Central Asia, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea,Caspian Sea, Euro-Asian trade.

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