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Armenians in Asian Trade in The Early Modern Era

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Item Code: AZA254
Publisher: Manohar Publishers And Distributors
Author: Sushil Chaudhury and Keram Kevonian
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788173049934
Pages: 436 (Throughout Color and B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 11.2 x 8.5 inches
Weight 1.33 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

The ability of the Armenian traders to measure the risks of long-distance trade and a readiness to vary the size of commercial transactions, their capacity to thrive on low profit margins and move into remote producing centres, appointing their own kith and kin or people of their own community as their agents were some of the important factors for their phenomenal success in overland trade from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century.

The present volume showcases that the scale of what individual caravan could transport might produce reservations concerning grand affirmations, but the quick succession of such enterprises, the network they supplied and from which they drew their products put paid to such skepticism. This was especially true when this perspective was combined with the sure knowledge that those who organized enterprises held together both production and a solid link with maritime options.

This comprehensive stidy on the role of Armenians in the long-distance trade in Asia will help refute afresh and convincingly among many others the canard that the Portuguese and not the Asians, were the dominant factor in the Indian ocean trade in the sixteenth century and that the advent of the Companies in the early seventeenth century sounded the death-knell of the traditional overland trade of the Asian merchants.

Contributors with varied interests include Michel Morineau, Edmund Herzing, Keram Kevonian, Sushil Chaudhury, Shireen Moosvi and Richard Pankhurst among many others, making the volume indispensable for the students of Economic, Maritime and Colonial History of Asia.

About the Author

Sushil Chaudhury, former University Chair Professor of Islamic History & Culture, Calcutta University, is Nationa Research Fellow, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, England. He was a fellow in Residence at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study; a British Academy Visiting Professor; a Fellow-inResidence at the Rockefeller centre, Bellagio, Italy and a Visiting Professor, MSH & EHESS, Paris. His major publications include The Prelude to Empire: Plassey Revolution of 1757 (2000); Merchants, Companies and Trade: Europe and Asia in the Early Modern Era (ed. with Michel Morineau 1999); From Prosperity to Decline: Bengal in the Eighteenth Century (1995); Trade and Commercial Organization in Bengal, 1650-1720 (1975) and numerous articles in historical journals of repute.

Kéram Kévonian is one of the most renowned authorities on Armenian studies, especially Armenian history a trade in the early modern era. He has written numerous articles, mostly in French, on the Armenians in reputed international journals. He worked as a Research Professor in EHESS and MSH, Paris, for a long time.



No comprehensive study has yet been made on the role of the Armenians in the long-distance trade in Asia in the 16th to the 18th century. But this is a very important subject in trade history, especially in view of the fact that the Armenians were one of the most active groups, perhaps the most dominant, in overland trade in the early modern era. Moreover a study of the theme is all the more essential for a proper understanding and clarification of some the crucial issues and the on-going debate on the relative importance of the traditional overland trade vis-à-vis the seaborne European trade as also the characterization of the Asian trade in the 16th through the 18th century.

One of the major issues concerning the long-distance trade in the Eurasian continuum in the early modern era is whether the advent of the Europeans resulted in the ultimate demise of the Asian overland trade. It has been held for long that with the advent of the Europeans in the Indian Ocean region, first under the Portuguese in the 16th century, followed by the English and the Dutch East India Companies in the 17th century, the overland trade was doomed and from then onward, especially from the early 17th century, the oceanic trade of the Europeans ruled supreme in the long-distance trade. The most eminent protagonist of this theory is Niels Steensgaard who in his seminal work, The Asian Trade Revolution of the Seventeenth Century, propounded that the Companies succeeded in breaking the caravan's hold over the overland trade of Asia from the early 17th century, though he somewhat qualified his position in two later essays (Steensgaard, 1974; 1987; 1999, 55-73).

It is true, no doubt, that the discovery, and hence the opening of the direct maritime route from Europe to Asia by Vasco da Gama around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498 brought about a "commercial revolution" and resulted in the integration of trade on a global scale between the 16th and 18th centuries. The huge profit earned by the Portuguese from the spice trade with the eastern archipelago lured the North Europeans to venture in the East, and as such the English East India Company was formed in 1600, followed by the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC) in 1602. In this connection it is well to remember that the inflow of silver from the Americas made it possible for the Europeans to have trade with Asia with ease. A part of the silver that came to Europe from the “New World” could be used for commerce with Asia and this along with the silver that was brought in from Japan enabled the Europeans to buy commodities in Asia for export to Europe (Chaudhury, Morineau, 1999, 1, Introduction).

However, even before Steensgaard, William H. Moreland, one of the pioneers in the field of Indian economic history, emphasized the role of the Europeans in the Indian Ocean trade in the 16th century. He held that the advent of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean in the 16th century ushered in "a new era" in the region. Though he acknowledged that the Asian ships were active in some parts of the Indian Ocean during this period, he however maintained that the important routes of maritime trade in this area were dominated by the Portuguese. He was also of the opinion that India's traditional overland trade in the 17th century was of little importance and that the important development took place at sea (Moreland, 1920, 186188, 192-209, 218; 1923, 58). The idea was so much entrenched that Kavalam M. Panikkar, writing almost forty years after Moreland, talked of the "Western dominance" in the Indian Ocean with the coming in of the Portuguese (Panikkar, 1959).

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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