The financial crisis
In 1342-3 King Edward III precipitated the first and the worst of world scale financial crises. He committed the unforgivable sin of defaulting on his depts.
His actions destroyed the incredible wealthy Florentine banks of Bardi, Peruzzi and Acciaiuoli, thereby disrupting trade and committing the world to decades of deprivation.
There is however a different way of interpreting events.
The Trade Routes
Silk and spices were rare commodities in Europe. On the other hand fur, glass and wool were rare commodities outside of Europe. On the basis of this disparity, the spice and silk trade routes had been opened up long before the rise of the Roman Empire.
The spice route led through Egypt and Arabia to the Arabian sea. Then, as today the spices; pepper, cinnamon, cloves,nutmeg,ginger and turmeric enhanced the flavour of food. The only source was in the far east and the trading activity was frenetic.
Taking advantage of the seasonal winds Arab Traders sailed the arabian sea to reach the east cost of Africa and the western coast of India. From India came the spices. it was known that they did not originate in India but came from further east.
From Africa came the equally highly valued Frankincense and Myrrh. A measure of their worth may be gained from the fact that these were the gifts reputed to have been brought from the east to the newborn Jesus.
The distribution of treasures
The export of slaves was an important factor in the development of trade. As well as becoming a renowned centre for commodity trading Venice had a thriving slave market. From this trade the Venetian state grew rich.
The Venetian role
The Venetians were perceptive traders. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Arab incursions into North Africa, the seas of the Eastern Mediterranean sea were far from safe for trading ships.The Venetians invented the convoy system and built large numbers of heavily armed protection vessels to guard the convoys. The provision of naval support was addressed as if trade was total war. The Arsenale in Venice utilised a production line and if necessary a ship could be launched every twenty four hours.