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The Waning of the Mediterranean, 1550–1870

A Geohistorical Approach

Faruk Tabak

Publication Year: 2008

Conventional scholarship on the Mediterranean portrays the Inner Sea as a timeless entity with unchanging ecological and agrarian features. But, Faruk Tabak argues, some of the "traditional" and "olden" characteristics that we attribute to it today are actually products of relatively recent developments. Locating the shifting fortunes of Mediterranean city-states and empires in patterns of long-term economic and ecological change, this study shows how the quintessential properties of the basin—the trinity of cereals, tree crops, and small livestock—were reestablished as the Mediterranean's importance in global commerce, agriculture, and politics waned. Tabak narrates this history not from the vantage point of colossal empires, but from that of the mercantile republics that played a pivotal role as empire-building city-states. His unique juxtaposition of analyses of world economic developments that flowed from the decline of these city-states and the ecological change associated with the Little Ice Age depicts large-scale, long-term social change. Integrating the story of the western and eastern Mediterranean—from Genoa and the Habsburg empire to Venice and the Ottoman and Byzantine empires—Tabak unveils the complex process of devolution and regeneration that brought about the eclipse of the Mediterranean.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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p. v

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p. vii

‘‘All that is finished, let it fade,’’ said Yates, but not before the author acknowledges the immense debt he incurred in completing this book. Immanuel Wallerstein, Terence K. Hopkins, and Çaglar Keyder read and commented on an earlier version. ...

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Introduction: Unrelieved Weight of Wealth in the Inner Sea

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pp. 1-30

From the fourteenth century to the turn of the sixteenth, the Mediterranean was a world unto itself, a world-economy. The economic fabric of this world was initially woven by city-states strung along the northern shores of the Italian peninsula, and it was under their aegis that ‘‘the whole sea shared a common destiny, ...


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1 Empires and Empire-Building City-States

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pp. 33-83

The first sixteenth century commenced in the 1450s. With its onset, territorial states and imperial polities crippled by the 1250/1300–1450 downturn began to recover their strength.1 During the tumultuous times of this drawn-out downturn, empires circumscribing the Mediterranean experienced a considerable weakening in their hold over their territorial possessions ...

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2 City-States and the Inner Sea

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pp. 84-133

The second sixteenth century commenced in the 1560s. By then, Antwerp’s greatest merchant-bankers and merchants, Gasparo Ducci, Luis Perez, and Erasmus Schetz, to name a few, had already risen to prominence as grainbrokers for Lisbon and Castile. Inundated by the wealthy marranos from Iberia, ...

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3 Eclipse of the City-States and the Resurfacing of the Mediterranean

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pp. 134-186

The second sixteenth century commenced in the 1560s. By then, Jewish populations expelled from the kingdom of Castile had taken up residence in distant corners of the Mediterranean, including Salonika and Safed on the eastern shores of the basin, in the Ottoman lands.1 ...


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4 Reversal in the Fortunes of the Plains

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pp. 189-241

The second sixteenth century commenced in the 1560s. By then, the relatively short-lived medieval warm period had come to an end and the Little Ice Age had promptly resumed after the brief hiatus of the beau seizi

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5 New World of the Hills

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pp. 242-298

The second sixteenth century commenced in the 1560s. It was then—with the onset, most prominently, of the Wars of Religion—that the upheavals and traumas that violently shook the empires in the Mediterranean until the midseventeenth century commenced. The principal factors that triggered this wave of social and political turbulence were twofold: ...

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Conclusion: The Mediterranean between the Leek-Green Sea and the Green Sea

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pp. 299-308

The Mediterranean was all but a timeless entity with invariable ecological and agrarian features. Some of the characteristics we attribute to it today as ‘‘traditional’’ or ‘‘olden’’ are products of relatively recent developments, the historical pedigree of which is not lost in the mists of time. ...


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pp. 309-368


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pp. 369-416


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pp. 417-432

E-ISBN-13: 9781421402604
E-ISBN-10: 1421402602
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801887208
Print-ISBN-10: 0801887208

Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 2 maps
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 794701458
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Waning of the Mediterranean, 1550–1870

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Subject Headings

  • Human geography -- Mediterranean Region -- History.
  • Human ecology -- Mediterranean Region -- History.
  • Mediterranean Region -- History.
  • Mediterranean Region -- Environmental conditions.
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