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Review Of Medieval Trade And Commerce History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

During the peak of Roman Empire, overseas trade thrived where there was trade between Europe, China, and the Far East.

After the collapse of Roman Empire, a lot of famous trade routes weren’t used anymore.

Overseas trade was revived and increased during the Middle Ages.

Why was it Important?

Trade in the Middles Ages brought forth the Industrial Revolution foundations and European exploration.

Majority of the countries relied on trading as a important and precious source of money and resources.

Pictures of Industrial Revolution

Expansion of Trade and Commerce – Crusades

The Crusades, which had assisted the relationships with countries in the Eastern became interested in the native productions of the West.

Crusades traded with Italy and the Mediterranean eastern edge points.

Their bigger vessels for sailing and galleys was used to take Orient’s luxuries to Scandinavia and England courts.

Medieval Merchants

Who is a Merchant?

Medieval merchants were peddlers in the beginning who traveled through and sold wares to towns and villages.

More goods were produced as Europe prospered in the 12th century.

Therefore, merchants developed into dealers, employers and ship owners with their carriers trading through trade routes network connecting the important European cities.

Pictures of Medieval Merchants

Pictures of Medieval Towns and Villages

Was Being A Merchant Risky? How?

It was risky purchasing and selling in foreign countries.

During a time, a mercer, or a medieval merchant could be busy trading overseas for months.

The journey could be dangerous which applies to both at sea and land, and robbers could attack anytime stealing the money and goods.

How did the Merchants developed?

A merchant traded independently at first.

Later on businessmen hired gangs of merchants, purchasing ships fleets for exports that is overseas.

Wares or goods are particularly made for foreign markets.

What did Merchants do for Protection from Robbers?

In order to protect themselves, merchants decided to travel together.

Huger businesses or companies would send gangs of merchants usually protected by troops of the government with huge amounts of wares for sale.

Therefore when pirates or robbers were encountered, it will be safer.

Pictures of Merchant Caravans

Merchant Guilds

They were one of the first Middles Ages town guilds.

Especially from and after the 11th century, towns flourished, merchant guilds held large power over the communities.

A lot of them created mutual protection societies, promising to shield and defend the wares, wagons and horses of their comrades while traveling.

Pictures of Medieval Merchant Guilds

Things that Increased Trade and Commerce


Markets were held at the square in towns of the middles ages at least one time per week.

Stalls were constructed for local merchants to sell their goods.

Neighboring towns would deliver any extra goods they have that can be sold.

Pictures of Medieval Marketplace


One or two times in a year, there would be a fair for attracting merchants from faraway places bringing items not purchasable from local stores.

It would have strolling minstrels, performers showing athlete skills, tricks, etc. and shows of animals with bears and horses that were trained.

Fairs in the Middles Ages could last for few days.

Pictures of Medieval Fairs


The compass allowed the mercantile navy to find new trading paths and ways and Middle Ages overseas trade and commerce to begin.

Mediterranean sailors dared to cross the Straits of Gibraltar to the ocean with the assist of the compass.

Trade and commerce which only happens at land before now can be both land and sea.

Pictures of Compass

Medieval Trade Routes

Silk Road

Europe and Asia began trade with each other again like in the past when Roman Empire didn’t collapse yet.

The ancient Silk Road from China to the Mediterranean became famous again.

Rich Europeans purchased goods like silks, spices and valuable metals from the East.

Pictures of Silk Road

Where are the routes located?

Majority of the sea trade roads were close to the coast.

So, the trading ships would be safer.

What are the Problems at the Trading Routes?

A lot of ports stopped or decreased trade at time of Black Death where Asian merchant ships might have brought it to Europe.

Even the best organized sea trading roads were full of pirates and founders of shipwrecks stole things.

Some trading roads on land had robbers that ambushed people with goods.

The roads weren’t in good conditions.

Pictures of Black Death

Pictures of Shipwrecks

What are the Solutions to the Problems?

Roads and safety was improved.

The coasts were shielded from invasions of the pirates.

Lighthouses were build at treacherous places to stop shipwrecks.

Pictures of Medieval Lighthouses

Trade Products

What are the products?

Spices, food, fabric, Egyptian paper, pearls, perfumes, etc. were imported by Medieval Navigators.

They gave mainly the valuable metals in bars instead of coins.

Iron, wines, oil, and wax was exported. England was prosperous during the Middle Ages because of their export of wool.

What are some examples of trade?

Genoa and Venice’s ships gave valuable metals, silks and other luxuries from the eastern Mediterranean to England and Flanders (Belgium) and got wool, coal, and timber in exchange.

German and Dutch traded iron, copper, and lead for wine, oil, and salt from southern Mediterranean using ships.

Recordings of Accounts, Debts, etc.

Tally Stick

At first cuts were made in a tally stick to record the amount of debt.

Then it was broken in half and each group kept one.

When the debt was finished the tally was thrown away or preserved as a document to show evidence or record .

Pictures of Tally Stick

Double-Entry Book Keeping

Later on in 14th century, traders of Florence created Double-Entry Book Keeping system.

It was because merchants needed keep more precise money and stock accounts.

Deals was written in two ledgers, the credits and debits and their values should always be even or balanced.

Double-Entry Book Keeping Pictures

Merchants and Clerks/Scribes

As trading process or procedures became more complicated, the need for paperwork was increased.

Merchants paid clerks and scribes to assist them like writing letters giving information about deals of business, sale bills, orders, and contracts to suppliers and documents insure fee or payment.

Merchants have seals of wax where they have to mark and sign.

Pictures of Medieval Scribes/Clerks


What are Some Facts About the Revival of Gold Coins?

Majority of the coins used in the Medieval Period were silver coins.

At Florence city during 1252, the first gold coins were created or minted.

It was called the Golden Florin and it was used since the times of Roman.

Pictures of Golden Florin Coins

How did Merchants Handle with Different Currencies?

Throughout Europe there were a lot of different currencies.

Merchants take a small set of coin balances with them.

It is for finding out the amount or value by checking their weight.

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