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Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Swig

The Essence of Wars and the Spice Wars (October 1, 2008)

 

If you cannot acquire cheaply what you badly want then, borrow money at high interest rates to set up a stealing operation.  Since time immemorial, wars were the most expensive alternatives in order to get what States wanted for refusing to purchase at fair market values.  This article will describe the Spice Wars which Stephen Swig introduced in his “Magellan, the vanquisher of the seas”. As it is known, Magellan is the first mariner to circumnavigate earth’s seas and oceans. 

Medieval Europe got hooked and addicted on all the varieties of spices and perfumes arriving through the Arab Moslem World; the aristocratic classes even added spices to their drinks and the values of spices were more expensive than silver and gold; people even sold lands in exchange of spices and perfumes because they were common currencies.

            Prices of spices and perfumes were extremely high because the sources of their production were found on remote lands in South-East Asia and by the time every port taxed the shipments and then traveling the deserts of Iraq and Syria and with the loss of one ship for every five in the seas due to the danger of sea faring and pirates then the prices skyrocketed through multi-levels of middlemen. 

The Arabic kingdoms knew well the sources of production in Malaysia but they didn’t reach the main islands that were rich in spices beyond the Malacca Straight.  Malacca Straight is still now the most strategic location for maritime commerce where all the ships coming from China, Japan, Viet Nam, Thailand, Burma and the south-east Asian countries and islands have to cross that straight westward and the reverse for the Nations doing commerce eastward. 

All the spices and perfumes had to cross the Arab kingdoms, one way or another, and most middlemen, before the shipments of spices reached Europe were Arabs. The European States decided to conquer the Near East under the pretense of a Holy War to re-conquer Jerusalem. 

 The main target of the crusading campaigns was Egypt as the shortest route to shipments arriving by the Red Sea.  Unfortunately for the European coalitions three targeted Crusading invasions of Egypt failed miserably and the whole business failed for lack of incentives to finance further campaigns. 

In the meantime, Venice vanquished Byzantium naval power and became the exclusive wholesaler of spices.  The English, Holland and German middlemen auctioned out the spices on the Rialto Square in Venice and then sold them throughout the main European markets.

            It happened that in 1415, one of the sons of the King of Portugal, Prince Henrick, started to doubt the theory and affirmations of Ptolemy which stated that there are no exits in the Atlantic Ocean when you sail west or south and that past the equator in Africa nobody can return alive because of the heat, fire and Evil emanations.  Ptolemy even said that past the equator Africa is not inhabited and is a desolate land. Henrick resumed his research and investigations and trained mariners and built ships to verify his new theories.  Henrick died before he experienced the successes of his endurance and far sightedness.

            Within a century, Portugal, the tiniest and poorest State in Europe, became the strongest and richest nation.  Portugal ships colonized the whole of Africa, India, and Malaysia and even reached China and Japan. King Juan II of Portugal had a meeting with Christopher Columbus but didn’t see any value of discovering another route to India going west the Atlantic since the southern route was completely discovered and known and the Pope had allotted Africa and India to the kingdom of Portugal.  The King of Spain invested in Columbus and the Pope had to divide the Atlantic Ocean into two zones; thus, lands discovered were distributed between these two kingdoms; Brazil was within the dividing line of Portugal.

            Magellan decided to tour around the world by seas going westward as Columbus: his closest mariner friend Francisco Srao convinced him that the route westward is far shorter in order to visit him in the spice islands of Ternate, Mulouk, Panda and Ambo Ana.  Francisco had been living the good life for nine years among the aborigines’ four islands; it seems that the Arabs had not reached yet these islands.

            The 15th century was most active in maritime discovery and the cruelest; the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors slaughtered the aborigines and brought in to the conquered lands all kinds of diseases that the natives were not immune at.  It was the century that started the wholesale colonial wars among the powerful European States for cheap produces and large markets. 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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