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of the ardour and ingenuity with which they BOOK carried on commerce; but because it demon- a strates, thắt during the ignorance which reigned in the rest of Europe, an extensive knowledge of remote countries was still preserved in the capital of the Greek empire. . At the same time, a gleam of light and and among knowledge broke in upon the east. The Ara- ans. bians having contracted fome relish for the sciences of the people whose empire they had contributed to overturn, translated the books of several of the Greek philosophers into their own language. One of the first was that valuable work of Ptolemy, which I have already mentioned. The study of geography became, of consequence, an early object of attention to the Arabians. But that acute and ingenious people cultivated chiefly the speculative and scientific parts of geography. In order to ascertain the figure and dimensions of the terrestrial globe, they applied the principles of geometry, they had recourse to astronomical observations, they employed experiments and operations, which Europe, in more enlightened times, has been proud to adopt and to imitate. At that period, however, the fame of the improvements made by the Arabians did not reach Europe. The knowledge of their discoveries was reserved for D 4
tion in Europe.
B 0,0 K ages capable of comprehending and of perfectmining them. .
. Revival of By degrees, the calamities and desolation and naviga. brought upon the western provinces of the Ro.
man empire by its barbarous conquerors, were forgotten, and in some measure repaired. The rude tribes which settled there, acquiring insensibly some idea of regular government, and some relish for the functions and comforts of civil life, Europe began to awake from its torpid and unactive state. The first symptoms of revival were discerned in Italy. The northern tribes which took poffeffion of this coun. try, made progress in improvement with greater rapidity than the people settled in other parts of Europe. Various causes, which it is not the object of this work to enumerate or explain, concurred in restoring liberty and independence to the cities of Italyk. The acquisition of these roused industry, and gave motion and vigour to all the active powers of the human mind. Foreign commerce revived, navigation was attended to and improved. Constantinople became the chief mart to which the Italians resorted. There they not only met with a favourable reception, but obtained such mercan
Hift. of Charles V. vol.i. p. 33.
tile privileges as enabled them to carry on trade BOOK with great advantage. They were supplied w both with the precious commodities of the east, and with many curious manufactures, the product of ancient arts and ingenuity which still fubfisted among the Greeks. As the labour and expence of conveying the productions of India to Constantinople by that long and indirect course which I have described, rendered them extreinely rare, and of an exorbitant price, the industry of the Italians discovered other methods of procuring them in greater abundance, and at an easier rate, They sometimes purchased them in Aleppo, Tripoli, and other ports on the coast of Syria, to which they were brought by a route not unknown to the ancients. They were conveyed from India by sea, up the Persian Gulf, and ascending the Euphrates and Tigris, as far as Bagdat, were carried by land across the Desert of Palmyra, and from thence to the towns on the Mediterranean. But from the length of the journey, and the dangers to which the caravans were exposed, this proved always a tedious, and often a precarious mode of conveyance. At length, the Soldans of Egypt, having revived the commerce with In dia in its ancient channel, by the Arabian Gulf, the Italian merchants, notwithstanding the vio. lent antipathy to each other with which Christ
, BOOK ians and the followers of Mahomet were then
pofseffed, repaired to Alexandria, and enduring, from the love of gain, the insolence and exactions of the Mahometans, established a lucrative trade in that port. From that period, the commercial spirit of Italy became active and enterprising. Venice, Genoa, Pisa, rose from inconsiderable towns, to be populous and wealthy cities. Their naval power increased; their vessels frequented not only all the ports in the Mediterranean, but venturing sometimes beyond the Streights, visited the maritime towns of Spain, France, the Low Countries, and England; and, by distributing their commodities over Europe, began to communicate to its various nations fome taste for the valuable productions of the East, as well as some ideas of manufactures and arts, which were then un.
known beyond the precincts of Italy. Their pro- . While the cities of Italy were thus advancing voured by in their career of improvement, an event hap
pened, the most extraordinary perhaps in the history of mankind, which, instead of retarding . the commercial progress of the Italians, rendered it more rapid. The martial spirit of the Europeans, heightened and inflamed by religious zeal, prompted them to attempt the deliverance of the Holy Land from the dominion of infidels. Vast
the Crue fades;
armies, composed of all the nations in Europe, BOOK marched towards Asia, upon this wild enter. prise. The Genoese, the Pisans, and Venetians, furnished the transports which carried them thither. They supplied them with provisions and military stores. Beside the immense fums which they received on this account, they obtained commercial privileges and establishments, of great consequence in the settlements which the Crusaders made in Palestine, and in other provinces of Alia. From those sources, prodigious wealth flowed into the cities which I have mentioned. This was accompanied with a proportional increase of power, and by the end of the Holy War, Venice, in particular, became a great maritime ftate, possessing an extensive commerce, and ample territories'. Italy, was not the only country in which the Crusades contributed to revive and diffuse such a spirit as prepared Europe for future discoveries. By their expeditions into Afia, the other European nations became well acquainted with remote regions, which formerly they knew only by name, or by the reports of ignorant and credu. lous pilgrims. They had an opportunity of observing the manners, the arts, and the accommodations of people more polished than
Ellai de l'Histoire du Commerce de Venise, p. 52, &c.