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rude tribes which settled there acquiring insen
fibly some idea of regular government, and some i relish for the functions and comforts of civil is life, Europe began to awake from its torpid
and inactive state. The first symptons of revival were discerned in Italy. The northern tribes which took poffeffion of this country, made pro
gress in improvement with greater rapidity than -: the people fettled in other parts of Europe. VaE rious causes, which it is not the object of this s! work to enumerate or explain , concurred in Brestoring liberty and independence to the cities w of Italy i). The acquisition of these roused indu* ftry, and gave motion and vigour to all the active E powers of the human mind. Foreign commerce i revived, navigation was attended to and impro
ved. Conftantinople became the chief mart to * which the Italians resorted. There they not
only met with a favourable reception, but obtai. ned such mercantile privileges as enabled them to carry on trade with great advantage. They were supplied both with the precious commodities of the east, and with many curious manufactures, the product of ancient arts and inge nuity, which still fubfifted among the Greeks. As the labour and expence of conveying the productions of India to Conftantinople by that long and indirect course which I have described ,
rendered them extremely rare, and of an exor. 47 bitant price, the Industry of the Italians disco.
i) Hift. of Charles V. vol. I p. 33.
vered other methods of procuring them in grea, ter 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 Gulph , and ascending the Euphrates and Tigris , as far as Bagdad , were carried by land across the Desert to Palmyra , and from thence to the towns on the Mediterranean. But from the lengt 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 lenght , the Soldans of Egypt, having renewed the commerce with India in its ancient channel, by the Arabian Gulf, the Italian merchants, notwithstanding the violent antipathy to each other with which Christians and the followers of Mahomet were then poffeffed , repaired to Alexandria, and endu. ring , from the love of gain, the infolence 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, rofe from inconfiderable towns to be populous and whealty 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 some taste for the valuable productions of the east, as well as some ideas of manufactures and arts, which were then unknown beyond the precincts of Italy.
Their progress favoured by the Crusades.
While the cities of Italy were thus advancing in their career of improvement , an event happened, 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 deliver the Holy Land from the dominion of infidels. Vaft armies, composed of all the nations in Europe, marched towards Afia , upon this wild enterprise. The Genoese, the Pisans, and Venetians furnished the transports which carried them thither. They supplied them with provisions and military stores. Beside the immense sums which they received
on this account, they obtained commercial pri• vileges and establishments, of great consequence
in the settlements which the Crusaders made in Palestine, and in other provinces of Afia. From those fources, prodigious wealth flowed into the cities which I have mentioned. This was accum. panied with a proportional increase of power, and by the end of the Holy War, Venice, in
particular, became a great maritime state , pofsefsing an extensive commerce, and ample territories k). 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 Asia, the other European nations became well acquainted with remote regions, which formerly they knew only by name, or by the reports of ignorant and credulous pilgrims. They had an opportunity of observing the manners, the arts, and the accommodations of people more polished than themselves. This intercourse between the east and west fubfifted almost two centuries, The adventurers, who returned from Afia, communicated to their countrymen the ideas which they had acquired, and the habits of life they had contracted by yisiting more refined nations. The Europeans began to be sensible of wants with which they were formerly unacquainted; new desires were excited ; and such a taste for the commodities and arts of other countrys gradually spread among them, that they not only encouraged the resort of foreigners to their harbours, but began to perceive the advantage and necessity of applying to commerce themselves 1). . By the discoveries of travellers by land,
The communication, which was opened between Europe and the western provinces of k) Essai de l'Histoire du Commerce de Venise p. 52. &c. 1) Hist, Charles V. vol. I. p. 25. &c.
Afia, encouraged several persons to advance far beyond the countries in which the Crusaders car, sied on their operations, and to travel by land into the more remote and opulent regions of the eaft. The wild fanaticism, which seems at that period to have mingled in all the schemes of individuals , no less than in all the counsels of nations, first incited men to enter upon those long and dangerous peregrinations. They were afterwards undertacken from prospects of commercial advantage, or from motives of more curiosity: Benjamin , a Jew of Tudela , in the kingdom of Nayarre poffefsed with a superstitious veneration for the law of Moses, and solicitous to visit his countrymen in the east, whom he hoped to find in such a state of power and opulence as might redound to the honour of his feet , set out from Spain in the year 1160, and travelling by land to Constantinople, proceeded through the countries to the north of the Euxine and Caspian seas, as far as, Chinese Tartary. From thence he took his route towards the south, and after traverfing various provinces of the farther India , he embarked on the Indian Ocean , visited several of its islands, and returned at the end of thirteen years, by the way of Egypt, toEurope, with much information concerning a large district of the globe, altogether unknown at that time to the western world m). The zeal of the head of the Christian church cooperated with the super
m) Bergerou Recueil des Voyages, &c, tom, !, p. 1.