Commerce History

History of trade, commercial ventures, and industry. Do NOT use this topic to tag merchants that exist in the modern world; rather, it is for historical commerce.

"From heads to tails" change in fish trade in 13th century London

New research by archaeologists from UCL, Cambridge and UCLan shows that there was a sudden switch in the fish trade in London from local supplies to imported during the early 13th century. The paper, Fish for the city: meta-analysis of archaeological cod remains and the growth of London's northern trade, appears in the June 2014 issue of Antiquities Journal.

Slave trade in Eastern Europe chronicled

In a 2014 journal article for Russian History, The Baltic Finnic People in the Medieval and Pre-Modern Eastern European Slave Trade, author Jukka Korpela looks at the routes of the slave trade in Eastern Europe. Jukka is affiliated with the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland.

London's Borough Market celebrates 1000 years on site

Medievalists visiting London are often disappointed that little of the medieval city remains, but they may be cheered by a walk through of Borough Market in Southwark which is celebrting its millennium. Stephen Halliday has the story for History Today.

Minding the medieval teen

Parents of unruly teenagers may sigh wistfully at the notion of sending their children elsewhere for training, a common practice of northern Europeans in the Middle Ages. William Kremer looks at the practice of fostering in an article for the BBC News Magaine.

Spanish medieval vineyard study opens "window to the past"

In the 10th century, Zaballa, Spain was a quiet village that cultivated vineyards on terraces. Then the rich folks arrived in the form of a manor monastery which created a "highly significant rent-seeking system," and then a "veritable factory, a specialised estate in the hands of local lords who tried to obtain the maximum profits possible." The town was abandoned in the 15th century.

Viking trade connected with Persian and Byzantine Empires

A new study by Marianne Vedeler, Associate Professor at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, shows that Norwegian Vikings enjoyed a brisk silk trade with the Persian and Byzantine Empires. The study was based partially on silk fragments found In an Oseberg ship. (photo)

Weights important tool in Viking trade

Much of the trade during the Viking Age was international in nature, leading merchants to depend on the balance weight scale and its weights as an important tool. In Ireland, these weights were often made of small, decorative items, apparently broken off of larger objects, usually from churches or monasteries.

Arabs slam Vikings in historic texts

"They are the filthiest of all Allah’s creatures: they do not purify themselves after excreting or urinating or wash themselves when in a state of ritual impurity after coitus and do not even wash their hands after food," wrote Arab writer Ahmad ibn Fadlan about his encounter with Vikings in areas around the Caspian Sea and the Volga River.

What we can learn from Timbuktu

In the Middle Ages, Africa was a leader in the scientific research and knowledge. Now Umar Benna of the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Dammam, in Al-Khoba, Saudi Arabia believes that the lessons of Timbuktu's gradual development approach can teach modern Africa, as well as the western world, how to deal with globalism.

Golden Horde site in jeopardy from flooding

Saraichik, a medieval trade center of the Golden Horde in Kazakhstan, has withstood the Mongols, the Turks, and the Cossacks, but now the ancient trade city faces a worse fate: Mother Nature. The few buildings left at the site have been ravished by floods from the Ural River and beaten by storms.

European debt crisis - past and present

The debt woes of Cyprus and Greece, along with other European countries, have garnered headlines in recent days, but the stories are not new. Renaissance Florence had its own debt crisis, with a solution that looks surprisingly modern.

Economic crisis may have caused "hacked up" Roman silver

In 1919, archaeologists discovered a hoard of Roman silver at Traprain Law in East Lothian, Scotland composed of piles of "hacked up" Roman silver. They believed the late Roman period treasure was brought to Scotland as loot, but a new study by Dr Fraser Hunter shows that economics may have been the cause of the destruction of the dinnerware. (photo)

African king is history's richest man

Bill Gates who? CelebrityNetWorth has named Mansa Musa I, the 14th century leader of the Empire of Mali, the richest man of all time, with a personal worth of over US$400 billion.  Mali's role as supplier of salt and gold to much of the known world made the king rich and Mali an economic superpower.

How the English changed the Danes

There are documents a plenty on how the Vikings influenced the culture of England, but a new study looks at ways that Danish Norse were influenced by the English they conquered. According to Ph.D candidate Marie Bønløkke Spejlborg, it was the English who inspired Danes to organise themselves into cities."

Port near Birka larger than previously believed

Marine archaeologists working at a port near the ancient village of Birka, Sweden believe the port was larger than previously believed and may show evidence of the exensive trade system of the Norse.

Banking records found under 15th century heraldry

Economic historians at Queen Mary, University of London have discovered Italian banking records dating to the early 15th century half covered by English coats of arms in a book of British heraldry.

The dichotomy of greed in medieval Europe

While the world's financial crisis plays out, historians compare today's commercial world to the past. one, Stanford historian Laura Stokes, ponders how attitudes on greed were different in the Middle Ages. Camille Brown, of Stanford University News, has the story.

Modern Europe needs a Holy Roman Empire

In an article for the New York Times, Istvan Deak opines that what the European Union really needs is a unifying force, such as the Holy Roman Empire, led by a modern Charlemagne.

Whitechapel Road home of London's first black community

Parish records reveal that black citizens were in residence in Tudor England, especially after the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I. The free people lived, worked and married in the city, in particular around Whitechapel Road in east London.

German debt goes unpaid for 450 years

In 1562 the town of Mittenwalde, Germany made a formal loan to  Berlin of 400 gilders.  Berlin never paid the money back, and at the agreed upon 6% interest Berlin now owes Mittenwalde 11,200 gilders, the equivalent of 137 million US dollars.

Excavations reveal medieval trading center in Northern Ireland

Dr Philip MacDonald, leader of an archaeological excavation on Dunnyneil Island in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, believe he has found the "Holy Grail of retail" with the discovery of a 7th century trading emporium visited by merchants from around the world.

Class Central offers free university courses online

Eternal students who find themselves unable to attend traditional university classes may wish to consider the offerings of Class Central, a free, online project offered by Stanford's Coursera, MIT and Harvard led edX (MITx + Harvardx), and Udacity.

Danish ship information to go online

Records from more than 1.8 million ships that sailed through the Danish sound will go online in May 2012. The records date from the mid 15th century to 1857.

13th-Century Food Fights Helped Fuel the Magna Carta

The recent loan and display of a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta at the National Achives allows careful readers to note how food security and free trade prompted English Barons to negotiate with King John.

Adapting to change - Viking style

The world seems to be changing very quickly with climate change, economic turmoil and culture wars taking place around the globe. Scientists studying global change believe much can be learned from the Vikings and how they adapted to their turbulent world.

Archaic laws to be swept from UK books

Those hoping to kill a Scotsman in York for carrying a bow and arrow had better act fast. This law, along with many others dating as far back as 1322, will soon be removed from the UK law books.

The economics of Viking raiding

For those who want to mix economics with blood and gore, Mary Valante has posted a paper presented at the Fourth Annual Appalachian Spring Conference in World History and Economics (2009).

One medieval life tells story of change in14th century England

14th century England was a dark time, and a time of change in Britain. In a hour-long, online documentary, historian Michael Wood investigates changes in medieval life by following the family of peasant Christina Cok.

Remains of 12th century tolbooth found in St. Andrews

In 12th century Scotland, the "tolbooth or praetorium was the office from which the provost and baillies organised the running of the newly-created burgh." Now archaeologists believe they have found the remains of the tolbooth in St. Andrews.

"Ascent of Money" - How the Medicis created banking

How did the shipping of huge amounts of gold and silver from the New World contribute to the collapse of the Spanish Empire? Learn about that and how the Medicis evolved from a criminal gang into international bankers and the richest family in Italy in the PBS series "Ascent of Money" presented by Professor Niall Ferguson.