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Independent r.barendse@WORLDONLINE.NL In response to Jonathan Even-Zohar' inquiry ----------------------------------------------------------------- I am doing research on diplomatic contacts between Russia and the Dutch republic in the 17th century (before Tsar Peter the Great) and there are some attempts by Dutch entrepreneurs to monopolise the Moscovian trade route to Persia and 'Bactria'. What must I read to understand more about these overland trade routes -- especially their volume and profitability? My main interest are these Dutch entrepreneurs, because they are the same people who organise a Levant Company to compete with Venetians. Also, what is the importance of the Russian overland trade routes? ----------------------------------------------------------------- Since nobody else replied to that very interesting question - presumably since it's holiday season let me just give my two cents. 1.) I recall the documents you're referrring to - I saw them too - fifteen years ago. The Levant traders and the Russia traders were both friends and rivals. As you may be aware (since the documents are reproduced in Heeringa's Bronnen tot de geschiedenis van den Levantsen Handel) Persian silk exported via the Volga to Amsterdam gave rise to a long controversy between the 'Directie op de handel naar de Middelandse Zee' which levied a 1% tax (called the tanza) on all trade to the Mediterrenean and the community of Amsterdam on whether this silk was a 'Mediterrenean commodity' in which case it was liable to tanza or not - in the sixteenth and seventeenth century the bulk of this silk was imported first via Aleppo and then via Izmir - Greek: Smirna - but Arkhangel'sk began to overtake Smirna in the 1680-1690's after which the entire trade drifted to Russia after 1720. In my new "Arabian Seas: the Indian Ocean World of the Eighteenth Century" book - on which I'm at work every whole day - I will have an extensive discussion on the overland-trade by way of Russia in the eighteenth century - including a retrospective section on the seventeenth century. However, for the time being you could read in English: R. Matee, The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver 1600-1730 (New York, 1999). And the well-known book of Bushkovitch on the Moscovian merchants you are probably familiar with - which has an excellent section on Astrakhan. S.Dale's book, Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade 1600-1750. Cambridge,1994. Though largely about the eighteenth century is also good on the Indian merchants in Astrakhan, although I disagree with much of what the book says on Persia and I disagree too (a point of detail but an important of detail) with his reading of the regional origins of the merchants: Dale basically thinks they originate from the town of Multan - in my view the Russian documents on which both Dale and I rely - say their SUBCASTE (Oswal banias) is from Multan but they themselves originated from towns throughout Northern India. It is a minor point but should n't it be of absorbing interest for world-historians to contemplate that much of the capital to build sumptious mansions in the obscure and dirt-poor Shekawati region of Northern Rajasthan was originally gathered on the banks of the Volga? There are quite a few good Russian studies on the trade to Persia as for example by: P.P. Busev, Istorija postolst'vo i diplomaticeskich othnoshenije russkogo i iranskogo gosudarst'va (po daniim ruskim archivam) Moscow 1976 and 1980. That covers far more than the title implies. M.I. Fechner, Torgovlija Russkogo gosurdarst'va so stranami vostoka v XVI veke Moscow, 1956. This is the classic for the sixteenth century although it is - in this statistically still badly documented period - necessary to keep a sense of proportions - the problem with the oriental trade of Russia was that it had basically no export product that it could sell in bulk to the East whereas it had no such problems in its trade to Europe. Thus the oriental trade of Russia was much smaller than its trade to Europe by lack of such an export-product. The one thing the Russians could sell were furs but that did not make a very big trade, since the market was but confined to court and nobility. On the early eighteenth century there is also N.G. Kukanova, Ocerki po istorii Russkogo-Iranskogo otnoshenie v XVII vv. Saransk, 1972. This based on the custom-ledgers of Astrakhan which only become available after 1680. The literature on the Russian trade with Central Asia is quite extensive see for example: M.J. Juldasev, K istorii posolvikh i torgovlikh sviazii Srednej Azii z Rosseiji v XVI-XVII vv. Tashkent, 1964. A brilliant study by a very great scholar on the Russian tribute missions to the khanates, which as Juldasev was simply trade but couched as mutual diplomatic gift-giving, obviously so - it was a long way between Khiva and Tobolsk and the caravans had to be heavily guarded which meant that only the 'state'on both sides could organize the trade. See also S.V. Bakrushin, Sibir i Srednei Azii (XVI-XVII vv.) volume III, 1 of his Naucnie trudi, Moscow, 1955, which uses the Siberian custom ledgers. How important is this trade? Not very important because at perhaps four million inhabitants the khanates were not a very large market. For the Khanates Russia probably only came a very distant fourth after India, Iran and China. This changed in the eighteenth century, though, because Russia then began to purchase en masse two basic 'commodities' from Central Asia: namely horses - for the army - and, above all, cotton. The calculation here is complex but - as so often in Russia - it involved both Russian mercantilism and the prices of commodities. On the one hand, the new Russian textile industry needed cotton and lots of it and Bukhara and Khiva cotton was considered better as West Indian cotton. Yet, on the other hand the Russian state did not want to become too dependent on imports from the Americas; so the trade with Central Asia was heavily subsidized by the state because Russia enjoyed a virtual monopoly on it by 1780 - it was nearely internal trade. What you got by the late eighteenth century in Bukhara and the Kokand Khanate - Tashkent - was a very rapid expansion of cotton-cultivation in which - I suspect - 'Russian' merchants (i.e. Tartar) merchants were heavily involved by handling forward advances to peasants and beys to cultivate cotton in monopoly contracts where they then had to deliver cotton to them - that was particularly so in the Fergana region. There was (I think) a gradual peripheralisation of Kokand and Bukhara in the late eighteenth early nineteenth century which made them increasingly entirely dependent on both the Russian market and on Russian credit. BTW: this briefly makes me reflect on the 'who reads Wallerstein now?' discussion on this list a few months ago. If applied in the proper context Center/periphery theory is an absolutely indispensable tool for historic research in general and World History in particular: not reading Wallerstein (or my late friend and teacher Andre Gunder Frank) is like doing physics and not reading Einstein or Planck. Best wishes R.J. Barendse