Credit Crunch 600 years ago

“The problems did not take long to materialise. Fragmentation and rebellion broke out in the Persian provinces as Timur’s heirs jostled to take control of his empire. But more structural difficulties were unleashed by a global financial crisis in the fifteenth century that affected Europe and Asia. The crisis was caused by a series of factors that resonate 600 years later: over-saturated markets, currency devalnations and a lopsided balance of payments that went awry. Even with the growing demand for silks and other luxury products, there was only so much that could be absorbed. It was not that appetites were sated or that tastes had changed, it was that the exchange mechanism went wrong: Europe in particular had little to give in return ┬╗, ceramics and spices that were so highly prized. With la effectively producing more than it could sell abroad, there to keep buying goods dried up – The result has often been described as a “bullion famine’.”

Frankopan P., The Silk Roads, ch 10, pg. 197, Bloomsbury, 2016

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The legal code under Suleiman the Magnificent 

“In Turkey, the reign of Sulaiman was at the same time an age of victorious warfare, of widespread construction and of substantial legislative activity. Sulaiman bore the title of Kanuni, or law-maker, indicative of a revival of law studies and the existence of a special class of jurists in the states under his rule and above all at Constantinople. His legal code so suecessfully regulated the judicial machinery that it was said that Henry VIII of England sent a legal mission to Constantinople to study its workings. His Kanun-name is to the East what the Justinian Code is to the West and the Recopilacion de las Leyes to Spain. All the legal machinery established by Sulaiman in Hungary was the work of the jurist Abu’l-Su’ud; such a major achievement of legislation was it on the question of property that many of its detailed provisions remain in force to the present day. And the jurist Ibrahim Al-Halabi, author of a handbook on legal procedures, the multaka can be ranked alongside the most eminent western
jurists of the sixteenth century.”  

 
From Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the age of Philip II, Volume 2, pg. 683, Fontana/Collins, 1973.

Reasons for the late unification of Germany and Italy, according to Braudel

“Let us visualize for a moment all those powerful cities in Italy, Germany, the Low Countries and England, so many inter-linked metropolises, forming between them what has been described as
the ‘economic backbone of Europe’, the key zone in a pre-capitalist and capitalist Europe, a network of inter-connected routes. If Italy and Germany both took such a long time to become unified
politically as nations, it was precisely because of this profusion of cities, early-flowermg, independent, extremely rich and taking good care to preserve their liberty. France stood somewhat aside
from this European development: for the isthmus running through France derived its principal energy not from the towns of Languedoc nor from Marseille, nor from the ports of Provence, but rather from the good will and self-interest of the Italian cities, the obligatory starting point for any effective economic cicuit at time.”

Fernand Braudel, Identity of France, Volume 1 History and Environment, 1986, Harper & Row.