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CHAPTER 3 Hispanic Expansion in the Old World The Beginnings of European Expansion: Crusades and Trade in the EasternMediterranean The vigor of Europe during the High Middle Ages not only opened large internal frontiers but generated that dynamic symbiosis of religious zeal, thirst for territorial conquest, and economic enterprise that characterized the early centuries of European overseas expansion. Beginning with the first expedition to the Holy Land in 1096, Christian warriors established crusader kingdoms guarded by massive fortresses in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Cyprus. Italian towns, Genoa, Pisa, and Venice, provided the transportation, supplies, and much of the capital the crusaders needed to get to their destinations and to maintain themselves there. In addition to the immediate rewards for their services, the Italians won commercial concessions in the Middle East. By the end of the thirteenth century , they maintained factories in Egypt, throughout the Levant, and along the shores of the Black Sea, linking with Oriental commercial networks whose ramifications had been revealed to them by their countrymen John of Pian de Carpine and the Polo brothers. The trans-Mediterranean trade that they opened contributed heavily to the first European cycle of capital formation, investment , profit, and reinvestment for further profit, and it stimulated the transition from a "natural" to a money economy in the West. In the process, the Italians sharpened their commercial acumen and developed forms of business, banking, and credit organization that, for a consideration, they later put at the disposal of European princes who looked outward into the Atlantic. 41 4 2 H I S P A N I C E X P A N S I O N I N T H E O L D W O R L D Early Hispanic Enterprises: Africa, Italy, and the Atlantic The main directions of overseas expansion for the Hispanicpeoples were limned out even before the Reconquest had halted on the frontiers of Granada. Africa offered the most immediate and powerful attraction. Christian kings and knights felt a strong urge to chase the Moors across the Strait of Gibraltar to their homeland, seize their lands and properties, destroy their power at its sources, and, at the same time, extend Christendom. Africa also held economic attractions. Catalan, Andalusian, and Portuguese merchants as well as Italians resident in Hispanic ports wanted commercial entrepots along the coasts of Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco. Gold, which in the late Middle Ages fell into increasingly short supply in Europe, could also be obtained in those regions. The Christians did not know its original source but understood that it came northward across the Sahara by caravan to North African terminals. Aragon and Castile regarded these several interests as so important—and so competitive — that in 1291 they negotiated a treaty whereby Aragon obtained rights of conquest and exploitation in the regions of Tripoli and Tunis, Castile in those of Algeria and Morocco. The two Hispanic kingdoms employed different forms of expansion in Africa. The Crown of Aragon acted primarily on behalf of its Catalan subjects who desired to place commercial factories in North African ports and, at the same time, discommode established Italian competitors and expel Muslim pirates who menaced western Mediterranean seaways. It therefore restricted its efforts to establishing protectorates and spheres of influence. Castile inclined more to military adventures and territorial dominion in the Reconquest tradition . Its rulers from Ferdinand the Saint to Charles the Emperor planned and occasionally mounted expeditions across the strait. In the face of determined Muslim resistance, invasions yielded only a handful of precariously held fortresses , and at enormous costs in livesand money. Yet North African conquests continued to lure and entrap Castilians until modern times. Off the Atlantic coasts of Africa, the direction of ocean currents and summer winds encouraged voyages to the south and west, where, it was hoped, gold, slaves, and spices might be found. The history of these explorations is obscure. Despite the Aragonese-Castilian treaty of demarcation, Catalans appeared on the Atlantic coast of Morocco in the late thirteenth century and in the early fourteenth century and may have sailed as far south as Senegal. In 1271, or perhaps it was 1291, Genoese navigators apparently reached the H I S P A N I C E X P A N S I O N I N T H E O L D W O R L D 4 3 Canaries, which they found inhabited by a Neolithic people who came to be called Guanches. By 1350 or thereabouts, Genoese as well as Mallorcans...


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