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This Merchants and Bankers Listings website is years old and is now (from 2009) undergoing a marked identity change. Its timeline material on economic history (for 1560-1930) is being moved to a website managed by Ken Cozens and Dan Byrnes, The Merchant Networks Project. This will empty many of this website's pages which have always been in series. In due course, Merchants and Bankers Listings will carry information from the Crusades on the early development of what became “capitalism” in Europe to 1560 or so. As well as a conglomeration of data on modern developments, mostly on modern/technical industry, computing, and for the future, today's climate change problems. The editor's view is that in the context of climate change, the views of Merchants and Bankers (and Economists), the keepers of matters economic, are due for a considerable shake-up. If this website can encourage the shake-up, and help inform it reliably, well and good. -Ed
"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare,
terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo,
Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had
brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what
did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
Harry Lime (Orsen Welles) in movie, The Third Man, 1949.
Circa: 1450: recovery after plague leads to conspicuous luxury, fashion.
The history websites on this domain now have a companion website on a new domain, at Merchant Networks Project produced by Dan Byrnes and Ken Cozens (of London).
This website (it is hoped) will become a major exercise in economic and maritime history, with some attention to Sydney, Australia.
c1450: spring-driven clocks using sprung metal.
1450AD: Africa: The Buchweze from Nubia set up a kingdom in Uganda.
1451: More to come
1452: More to come
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1453: Turks take Constantinople, for Europe, so cutting off trade routes with the East. 29 May 1453: The Fall of Constantinople.
8 January 1454: Portugal: Pope Nicholas V gives to Henry the Navigator a Bull (a virtual divine right) to render navigable the seas by Africa ("the Indies"), to help western Christendom against the Saracens, and subdue the pagans left untouched by Islam. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 84.
1454-1455: Portugal: The Order of Christ (with Henry the Navigator as Grand Master), licences the Venetian merchant, Alvise da Ca' da Mosto (Cadamosto), to make two voyages to the upper Guinea Coast, resulting in perhaps the first European sighting of Cape Verde Islands. Cadamosto's narrative was not published till 1507 in Vicenza. From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 57. Also, G. R. Crone, (Ed.), The Voyages of Cadamosto. London. Hakluyt Society, 1937.
1455: Papal Bull Romanus pontifex grants exclusive rights to use of the Guinea Coast of Africa to Prince Henry's Order of Christ. From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 14.
About 1455: Portuguese establish the fortress of Sao Jorge da Mina on the Guinea Coast of Africa. The Saharan gold trade is one of the strategic interests under consideration. (Item from text by Paul Lunde, in magazine Saudi Aramco World, The Indian Ocean and Global Trade, issue July/August 2005)
1456: Europe: Introduction of printing.
Geoffrey /Boleyn/ Lord Mayor of London d. 1463, Geoffrey
elected in 1457.
(Item, per Peter Western)
1456: Venetian explorer Ca' da Mosto reaches the Cape Verde Islands of the Pacific, sailing for the Portuguese. (Item from text by Paul Lunde, in magazine Saudi Aramco World, The Indian Ocean and Global Trade, issue July/August 2005)
1457: Gutenburg prints Psalter with move able type.
1458: More to come
1459: More to come
1460: Portugal. When Henry the Navigator dies, he bequeaths
islands of Terceira and Graciosa in the Azores to his nephew Dom
Fernando, while the revenues of the island of Madeira went to The
Order of Christ. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ,
1462: Portugal: Pedro de Sintra is to prepare two caravels for an expedition which "discovers" Sierra Leone. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p.
From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 69.
1462-1503: Life of Ivan the Terrible who unites Russian states and stops payment of tribute to the Tatars.
1462: Islamic, Ahmad ibn Majid writes the Hawiya, a compendium in verse of navigational lore.
1463: More to come
1464: More to come
1465: More to come
1466: More to come
1467-1477: Japan: The Onin war (a civil conflict) devastates Kyoto civil war destroying the last of the residential architecture of Heian Period within the city limits of Kyoto Daimyo or feudal lord claimed absolute control of their own vassals and lands.
1467-1568: Japan: Period of Warring States rise of local feudal lords (Daimyo) with small estates, stockades breakdown of Ashikaga power By late 15th c - the imperial court and its aristocracy became poor Samurai - great emphasis on the military virtues of bravery, honor, self-discipline, and the stoical acceptance of death - suicide (no religious injunctions) - harakiri or seppuku - payment of the highest form, honorable way to escape an intolerable situation less emphasis on law, but morality -no room for the concept of political rights Confucian system - loyalty; family continuity - select one most suitable male heir, or take an adoption No cult of chivalry though women were considered as fragile and inferior beings (Buddhism influence plus Confucian influence) - yet Samurai expected women to be as tough as they were Buddhist concepts of the vanity of life or Shinto ideas of the permeation of nature and man the Pure Land, Nichiren (Lotus Sutra), Zen (concepts of meditation, simplicity, and closeness to nature).
1468: More to come
November 1469: Portugal's Dom Afonso wishes to continue with exploration of African coasts and gives for five years to a Lisbon merchant, Fernao Gomes (Gomes of Mina), for an annual rent of 200,000 reis, for rights to find ivory. The merchant employed captains Joao de Santarem and Pero de Escolar and pilots Martin Fernandes and Alvaro Esteves. Result was exploitation of "the Gold Coast" - and Mina. The Crown retained rights over trade by Africa. The Spanish also coveted the trade of Mina and in 1475 alone they sent 30 ships by Africa. Gomes' captains explored the bights of Benin and Biafra. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, pp. 69-71.
1469-1530: Life of Nanak, founder of the Sikh community in India.
1470: The Spanish take slaves to Spain and Canary Islands, and later to the West Indies, and by 1503 many slaves are escaping in the West Indies. See W. Walton Claridge, A History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti, pp. 80ff.
1471: Portuguese ships cautiously cross the Equator. Early
of period of European colonisation of eastern areas.
(Giles Milton, Nathaniel's Nutmeg. Penguin Books, 1999/2000.)
For general information, see Paul Herrmann, The World Unveiled: The Story of Exploration from Columbus to Livingstone. (Translated from the German by Arnold Pomerans) London, Hamish Hamilton, 1958.
Item: The role of Portugal
the rise of the European slave trades is outlined in Gilbert Renault,
The Caravels of Christ. (Translated by Richmond
Allen and Unwin, 1959.
1471: 14-24 August: Portuguese Dom Afonso sets sail from Lisbon with 400 ships and 30,000 men to attack Moorish city Arzila, which has been harassing the shore of Gibraltar and take a booty of 800,000 gold dobras. This later led to the fall of Tangier, and assumption by Portugal of rights to both sides of "the African Sea". Further exploration of the coast of Guinea (West Africa) followed, with the Portuguese fearful of the Venetians, Florentines and Genoese. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 68.
1474: 28 January: Portugal: King John gives to one of his officials, Fernao Teles de Meneses, any undiscovered islands (off or near Africa) he may happen to discover. Meneses can also buy the Floreiras, (islands of Flores and Corvo), to the west of the Azores, islands known since 1452, discovered by Diogo de Teive. In November 1745, Afonso (who is at war with Spain), grants Meneses the island of Sete Citades (Seven Cities/Antilla). Renault asks, had a discovery been made in the meantime, with these gifts of known and unknown islands? From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 136.
1475: Nuremberg, Germany: Publication by German astronomer Regiomontanus (Johann Muller), of his works, Ephemerides astronomicae and Tabula magna primi nobilis. Muller has a pupil, Martin Behaim von Schwarzbach by 1480. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, pp. 75-84.
1477: Christopher Columbus, son of a humble Genoese wool-carder of noble background, says he has briefly visited Northern Europe, and returns to Portugal in 1477. In 1448 he marries a daughter of Bartolomeu Perestrelo, who is capt-donatory of an island named Porto Santo, near Madeira, as Bartolomeu had discovered the island with Tristao Vaz Teixeira. Christopher's mother-in-law gives to Columbus all her late husband's maps and papers. Columbus becomes convinced that a ship sailing due west from Lisbon will find land beyond the Atlantic, on the coasts of Cipango (Japan, or Nippon). Columbus succeeds in bringing ideas for such a voyage to Portugal's Prince John, who keeps Portugal's maritime information wrapped in secrecy. The king's advisers suggest Columbus' plan is a hotch potch of existing ideas. Columbus is threatened by his creditors and retreats to the monastery of Santa Maria de la Rabida, in 1484 or early 1485. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, pp. 134ff.
1476: Swiss pike phalanx defeats Charles of Burgundy's knights.
1477AD: More to come
1478: Spain: Ferdinand and Isabella authorize seamen of the port of Palos to trade to Mina. The Portuguese seize their ships. In 1480 the Portuguese captain Diogo Cao brings to Lisbon several Spanish ships he has seized, one of which carries a French merchant. Portugal's Prince John orders his ships to attack any such interloper Spanish ships and builds a fort at Mina. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, pp. 72-75.
1479: More to come
1480++: From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 151 cites D. B. Quinn, 'The Argument for the English Discovery of America between 1480 and 1494', Geographical Journal, CCXVII, 1961., pp. 277-285.
Joao II (Aviz), "The Perfect Prince", King Portugal 1481-1495.
1481: A mission, perhaps a trade mission, makes its way from Ethiopia to Lisbon. Perhaps helping the rise of the European legend of the impressive Christian monarch somewhere in the East, Prester John. (Item from text by Paul Lunde, in magazine Saudi Aramco World, The Indian Ocean and Global Trade, issue July/August 2005)
12 December 1481: Portuguese Azambuja leaves Lisbon with nine caravels - and amongst crew is Bartholomew Dias, to build a fort, called St George, at Mina, Africa. Fort St George later guarded trade caravans from Timbuctoo and Uaden, with gold and ivory and slaves, moving to Mina. Such merchandise was unloaded at Lisbon after sailing of a secret route home, at "Casa da Mina", later called "the India House" of Portugal.
1481: Portugal: Joao II sends ships (with Lopo Goncalves and Rui de Sequeira) south of Africa by Gaboon to search for the extremity of Africa. From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 13.
1481: Portugal: Joao II sends ships south of Africa by Gaboon to search for the extremity of Africa. From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 13.
1482: Europe has 110+ printers, Aldus of Venice creates pocket classics.
1482AD: Africa: The Portuguese find the highly-organised Bakongo Kingdom, and in 1483 they reach Benin and later export slaves.
1482: Portugal: Diogo Cao (grandson and son of trusted servants of Kings of Portugal) sails to fortress of Mina and then south, passing Cape Catarina, the point furthest south of the Equator reached so far, to the Congo River. Cao possibly went further south to Cape Wolf (now St Mary's Cape), "in the year of the creation of the world 6681", near an entry to "the Gulf of Arabia", as the Pope was informed by 11 December 1485. Cao returns to Lisbon in 1484. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 86.
1482: Portugal: Diogo
the factory-fort of Sao Jorge da Mina on the Gold Coast, to protect
trade in gold dust, slaves and malagueta pepper.
From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 67.
1482: Portugal: At the court of King John, Martin
Behaim, a German
from Nuremberg, appears in Lisbon, (Martinho Boemio), who has heard
of the reputation of Portuguese Mina and wants to set up an
import-export house on the banks of the Tagus. By 1488, Behaim had
married a Portuguese woman, daughter of a woman of noble rank and a
Flemish father, Johst Hurter, Josse de Hurtere, captain of the
islands of Fayal and Pico in the Azores. From Renault, The
Caravels of Christ, pp. 131ff.
1486: 3 March: Portugal. Columbus "probably" hears of a new contract from King John which withdraws a concession of the island of Seven Cities to Fernao Tela de Meneses and gives it to Fernao d'Ulmo, captain of Terceira in the Azores. Later, Columbus meets Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain (who welcome arriving mariners from Portugal) via Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, Grand Chancellor of Castile. Columbus mentions this new situation re the island of Seven Cities. Portugal meantime is preparing the expedition of Bartolomeu Dias, while d'Ulmo may be planning an expedition of 1487 with the aid of a German, probably Martin Behaim. Renault feels that King John had become aware that there was land "to the west" in the Atlantic. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, pp. 137ff.
1487: King Joao of Portugal sends Arabic-speaking explorer Pero de Covilha overland in Africa to try to find the legendary kingdom of Prester John. De Covilha visits Mecca, gathers information on the trades of the Indian Ocean, and sails down the East African coast as far as Sofala, finally to Ethiopia. So if Ethiopia was the land of Prester John, he found it, to be held captive there for 30 years, although he managed to send a messenger home with his news. He also seems to have found out that it was possible to sail right around Africa and thence to India. Presumably, Arab traders had known this was possible for some time preceding major expeditions from Europe. (Item from text by Paul Lunde, in magazine Saudi Aramco World, The Indian Ocean and Global Trade, issue July/August 2005)
7 May 1487: Portugal: Pero da Covilha (who speaks Arabic, and had been a spy for Portugal in Spain and Morocco) and Afonso de Paiva reach Barcelona,. having been sent to examine the East. They are thence Naples, Rhodes (property of Knights of St John of Jerusalem), Alexandria, Cairo, for Mecca, thence Suakim the port of Nubia, and then separated. de Paiva was to go to Ethiopia to meet "Prester John". da Covilha took a Muslim ship for the coast of India, and landed at Cananor, a centre for ginger trade, then Calicut, where he saw gold and precious stones which astonished him, plus pepper. At Calicut, ships arrived from Aden and Ormuz with spices from India, porcelain from China, gems from Ceylon and goods from Malacca. da Covilha also saw Goa, where he found a ship sailing for Sofala, centre of the gold trade on the east coast of Africa. He visited Madagascar, then Ormuz, then back to Cairo to meet de Paiva. Later, da Covilha returned to Mecca, then Aden, Ormuz, Jedda (the port of Mecca)... then the story fades... since Pero da Covilha had stayed with a woman at Massawa, the port of Eritrea which received Muslim trade between India and Egypt. At this time, slaves from Africa are sold at Moka, the port of the Yemen. (From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 97.)
Manoel I (Aviz), "The Fortunate", King Portugal 1495-1521.
c1490: Arquebus with matchlock in Germany, defeats pikemen in Italy.
1490: Ahmad ibn Majid writes his book, Fawa'id, an encyclopedia of navigation.
1490 or so: Noted Arab navigator Ahmad Majid organises his information on the navigation of the Indian Ocean and the lower reaches of the Red Sea and produces The Book of Useful Information on the Principles and Rules of Navigation. He discusses the idea of circumnavigating Africa from east to west “as if it were common knowledge”. He knew of the existence of Madagascar, and of the coast of Maghrib, from Masa to Safi, and then the Moroccan coast. He also know of the Strait of Ceuta, the entrance to the Mediterranean. (Item from text by Paul Lunde, in magazine Saudi Aramco World, The Indian Ocean and Global Trade, issue July/August 2005)
1490s and later: The Asiento, the silver
exchange backing the supply of slaves from Africa to the Caribbean
and Southern America, seems to have gained its ultimate authority
from the papal Bulls of the 1490s which divided the world mare
clausum into two major areas of hegemony for Portugal and
divisions which also left other European powers - France, Italy,
Germany and England - with little to look as far as their colonial
expansionism or international trade was concerned. (Except that the
English defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1558 and a later Dutch
whipping of the Spanish in 1639 rendered mare clausum
meaningless for the future.) - Asiento chronology -
Encyclopedia Britannica says asiento is a Spanish word meaning "a farm of taxes, or a contract". - Asiento chronology -
1491: England: Bristol is regularly sending expeditions to the Western Atlantic, possibly in search of "Brasill". From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 279.
1492: Portugal: King John II calls to Portugal, a Jewish writer on astronomy, Abraham Zacuto, author of Almanach Perpetuum Celestiam Radix. (From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 60.)
1492: Amerigo Vespucci, a merchant from Florence and a student of modern navigation, goes to Seville, Spain representing the Medici, to supervise some marine supply contracts. He later left business for exploration, and various accounts of voyages (addressed to his patron, Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' Medici) were attributed to him, one regarding a voyage on the west coast of the South Atlantic. (From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., pp. 172-173.)
1492: 3 August: Columbus sails with three ships for the western Atlantic. He carries "an Arabic interpreter", as he believes that Arabic is spoken in lands to be discovered. (From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 141.) Genoese residents in Seville invested in Columbus' first and second voyages and were also the chief backers of Sebastian Cabot's expedition to the Rio de la Plata. (From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 23.)
1492: Men later regarded as old compatriots of Columbus, and
settling in Spanish territories in the New World include: Alonso de
Ojeda. Peralonso Nino. Vicente Yanez Pinzon. Juan de la Cosa, an
"eminent navigator" and companion of Columbus, who turned
from cartography to slaving, and died from a poison arrow while
slaving on the coast of Colombia.
From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., pp. 191ff.
March 1493: Columbus visits Portugal's King John, who asks if any new lands found are in Portuguese waters, and soon plans to send a fleet out under Dom Francisco de Almeida. Renault feels that King John already knew of lands to the west, since a line of demarcation John proposed re Spanish occupations (of Hispaniola/Haiti) would pass through the middle of Florida, Renault feels, noting that the natives of Hispaniola had told Columbus that "white men with beards" had already landed on their island. Renault says also that Prince Henry's Portuguese adventurers Diogo de Teive and a pilot, Pietro di Velasco, plus Pero Vasquez de la Frontera, had discovered the Floridas (Pietro being the same man as Pero). This is part-explanation for the long court case conducted after the death of Columbus on the extent of Spanish-Portuguese land claims in the New World. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, pp. 142-143.
1494: More to come
1495: Sofala: An Arabic book of sailing directions refers to
Portuguese vessels wrecked off Sofala, but this is not confirmed by
From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 72.
1496: More to come
1497: A patent from Henry VII, 5 March 1497, re ship Matthew, to Newfoundland, John and then Sebastien Cabot. Henry VII by 3 February 1498 made patent to Sebastien and some London merchants adventured small stock. Three or four small ships got to Chesapeake Bay, not to Cathay.
1497: In 1497 the Portuguese begin to supply other nations with slaves from West African coasts. See W. Walton Claridge, A History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti.
1498: Columbus sights the northern coast of South America and discovers the mouth of the Orinoco River. From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 172.
1498: Portuguese mariner Bartolomeu Dias finds explorer Duarte Pacheco Pereira (geographer, navigator, soldier, historian) ill with fever on the island of Principe. From Renault, The Caravels of Christ, p. 144.
24 April, 1498: The fleet of Vasco da Gama leaves the port of
Melindi to cross "the gulf of Arabia". Renault cites Rene
Grousset's book, Balance Sheet of History, to
the Portuguese were well aware of the broad historical significance
of their activities as an endgame of the Crusades. In 1498 the first
Ottoman troops entered Venetia near Vicenza, as da Gama reached
Calicut (northern India being a once-great Moslem empire now
decaying). The Frankish colonies in Greece and Syria had failed. In
1503, Turkey seized Modena, Coron and Lepanto from Venice. In 1509
the Portuguese viceroy Francisco de Almeida destroyed the combined
fleets of the Sultan of Egypt and the Samorin of Calicut. In 1522,
Rhodes was taken by Sulaiman the Magnificent, but in 1527 the
Portuguese scattered the fleet of the Sultan of Gujirat, India. In
1532 the Turks ravaged Austria, but in 1537 the fleet they sent to
help Gujirat was scattered by Joao de Castro. From Renault, The
Caravels of Christ, pp. 195-227.
Note: 1443: Florence, Italy: Establishment of the banking house of Marchionni in Florence. They later invested in the first voyage of Vasco da Gama.
From J. H. Parry, The European Reconnaissance: Selected Documents. London, Macmillan, 1968., p. 23. Parry pp. 72ff notes that da Gama's voyage indicated that the Portuguese could only break into Indian Ocean trades by force of arms.
Reference item: 1498: I. N. P. Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909. (Six Vols) 1915-1928. (Sometimes thought of as the most comprehensive history of a city ever written) *
1400-1500AD: Venice controls Mediterranean trade and introduces modern diplomacy by sending ambassadors permanently abroad.
William /Capel/ Lord Mayor Of London Sir William CAPEL elected
1503. Sir William CAPEL elected in 1510 second term.
(Item, per Peter Western)
1499: Vasco da Gama returns to Lisbon having found a sea route around Africa to India. Da Gama had used the services of Arab navigator Ahmad ibn Majid, who guided him the coast of East Africa to Calicut, India. (Item from text by Paul Lunde, in magazine Saudi Aramco World, The Indian Ocean and Global Trade, issue July/August 2005)
1500: Portugal begins to compile mariners' tables of the sun's declination.
From 1531 to 1660: The mines of Zacatecas and Potoso in Spanish South America officially send 16,887 tons of silver to Spain, though the real figure handled (contraband and private trade) might have been up to double that. (Item from text by Paul Lunde, in magazine Saudi Aramco World, The Indian Ocean and Global Trade, issue July/August 2005)
- Dan Byrnes (otherwise indicated in these pages as -Editor)
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