Medieval Trade Italy - the Italian States
The conquest of Palestine by the Crusaders had first opened all the towns and harbours of this wealthy region of Italy to Western traders, and many of them were able permanently to establish themselves there, with all sorts of privileges and exemptions from taxes. The Eastern commerce furnished the first elements of that trading activity with Italy which showed itself on the borders of the Mediterranean and the emergence of the republics of Amalfi, Venice, Genoa, and Pisa becoming the rich depots of all maritime Medieval trade in Italy.
Medieval Trade - Products
The Medieval navigators imported spices, groceries, linen, Egyptian paper, pearls, perfumes, and a thousand other rare and choice articles to Italy and Europe. In exchange they offered chiefly the precious metals in bars rather than coined, and it is probable that at this period they also exported iron, wines, oil, and wax. England prospered during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages due to the commerce and trade in the wool which was brought from England.
Middle Ages Trade Centres
Many new products were introduced to Europe via Italy during the the Middle Ages which came from the Eastern lands which the Crusaders travelled through to reach Jerusalem. Medieval Trade and Commerce changed to include different products, especially spices, from Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt, Damascus in Syria, Baghdad & Mosul in Iraq and other great cities which became important commerce and trading centres because of their strategic location, astride the trade routes to India, Persia and the Mediterranean, especially Italy. The products were then carried across the Mediterranean to the seaports of Italy and then on to the major towns and cities of Europe.
Obstacles to Medieval Trade
The bad state of the roads, the little security they offered to travellers, the extortions of all kinds to which foreign merchants were subjected, and the System of fines and tolls which each landowner thought right to exact, before letting merchandise pass through his domains, all created obstacles to the development of Middle Ages trade and commerce.
The Development of Medieval Trade
Improvements to the Middle Ages trade and commerce were made by improving the roads and security. Security was an important issue and one of the reasons for the emergence of Guilds in Medieval Times Commerce and trade became safe and more general; the coasts of Italy were protected from piratical incursions; lighthouses were erected at dangerous points, to prevent shipwrecks; and treaties of commerce with foreign nations, including even the most distant, guaranteed the liberty and security of traders abroad. The Italian States capitalised on the opportunity of developing and becoming wealthy - Medieval Trade in Italy flourished.
Middle Ages Maritime Trade & Commerce
The compass, known in Italy as early as the 12th century but little used until the fourteenth, enabled the mercantile navy to discover new routes, and it was thus that true Middle Ages maritime trade and commerce may be said regularly to have begun. The sailors of the Mediterranean, with the help of the compass dared to pass the Straits of Gibraltar, and to venture on the ocean. From that moment trade and commercial intercourse, which had previously only existed by land, and that with great difficulty, was permanently established between the northern and southern harbours of Europe. Bristol was one of the the central ports for merchant vessels, which arrived in great numbers from the Mediterranean.