And All Nations Shall Gather To It - A Crusades TL

Enough about Protestants. What if a group such as the Bogomils, Waldensians and Paulicians have early access to the printing press? Or the anti-feudal Tondrakians? Lots of potential.
 
Enough about Protestants. What if a group such as the Bogomils, Waldensians and Paulicians have early access to the printing press? Or the anti-feudal Tondrakians? Lots of potential.
It depends. The printing press is all well and good, but if there isn't the popular literacy there to read these works, then they will fall on deaf ears. You need to see the creation of the Universities to really help generate the levels of literacy needed to help the printing press catch on (and, for that matter, you also need the literacy rate to get high enough so that there is a demand for books, which helped spur on the printing press as well). And to get the universities, you need high urbanization and the resulting call for more clergy and lawyers to minister to the needs of those urban populations. Without that, even if the printing press is developed and some young radical starts printing missives against corruption in the Church, the invention and the writer are likely to either get ignored, or to only reach a very small segment of the population and - as a result - have little to no influence.

Sometimes I think people (and I'm not saying you're one of them! I mean no insult) view technologies like the printing press as akin to tech in a game of Civ: generate the proper amount of technology points, choose the tech and *boom* now you can build libraries. In fact, printing technology didn't really work like that. It was more a case of technology being developed to meet a growing need, rather than the inverse: an, honestly, there were other systems in place that also met that same need. Prior to the printing press, there was a nice business in what can best to described as mass-production scriptorums, where individuals would simply copy out the same page of a work. If you have 100 scribes (who didn't even need to be heavily literate) and each produces a single page a day, and a manuscript was 100 pages, you could produce 100 copies in a single day. There was also full plate printing (where each page of a manuscript was carved onto a plate and then mass produced). If anything, I think it would actually be easier to delay the invention of the printing press and movable type than to actually speed it up. (interesting side bit: Guttenberg didn't just invent movable type. He also had to create a new kind of ink that stuck to the lead blocks: standard ink of that era ran right off. So, even i movable type is invented, but the person in question isn't all that good at experimenting with inks, you likely see the invention not catching on until much later).
 
If anything, I think it would actually be easier to delay the invention of the printing press and movable type than to actually speed it up. (interesting side bit: Guttenberg didn't just invent movable type. He also had to create a new kind of ink that stuck to the lead blocks: standard ink of that era ran right off. So, even i movable type is invented, but the person in question isn't all that good at experimenting with inks, you likely see the invention not catching on until much later).
That would be an interesting premise, though I wonder how far you can hold it back before someone finally discovers the ink that sticks?
 
Interlude 4 (Part I) - About The Life in the Outremer - Economics New
Already, folks, hello again! This chapter might be one of the longest (if not the longest one) so far. It clocks in something near 30.000 characters, and there are LOTS of information and tidbits, some minor spoilers and etc. Overall, its just a non-linear and non-narrative effort into worldbuilding. I've tried to divide it in sections to facilitate reading, but I imagine that there will be many details you guys will be interested in discussing.


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INTERLUDE 4 - ABOUT THE LIFE IN THE OUTREMER (PART ONE) - ECONOMICS


The Levantine economy in the 12th Century is, as are most of the pre-modern societies, predominantly agrarian, but with a substantial urban infrastructure, relatively more developed and populous, even in comparison to the Mediterranean polities. However, we can be certain that a very substantial fraction of the overall wealth and revenue produced in the Outremer comes from the urban settlements, mainly due to their role as a siphon of the Asiatic commerce into the Mediterranean basin, but also because of their well-developed industries, which only beginning to (re)develop in Europe, after the long period of decline after the downfall of the Carolingian monarchy.


1.1. From the earth and from the sea


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A Medieval Painting depicting a Biblical scene of the Exodus, where the Israelites are shown consuming the "heavenly" manna

Canaan - the region corresponding to central Palestine - is famously known, in the Bible, as the land of mannah and honey. Palestine, even if comparably drier than the surrounding regions, experienced nonetheless a variety of seasons, from tepid and malaria-stricken summers, to drenching rains and frigid winters. Well-served by an ancient irrigation system, its agriculture is wholly dependent on small-scale gardener cultivation, with but a few plantations in the Jordan valley. While the population as a whole depended on the cultivation of traditional Mediterranean crops, such as wheat, barley, olives and grapes to sustain itself, the Franks - as the Arabs before them - greatly prized fruits such as date palms, figs and bananas and made efforts to grow these produces for both internal consumption and for the external markets. The most remarkable and favored one, however, was sugarcane, whose high value in the Asiatic and European markets meant its production was deserving of constant regulation by the Latin authorities. After the conquest of Egypt, indeed, the Franks would become de facto monopolists of sugar production in the eastern Mediterranean.

Another important economic segment in many agrarian societies is the exploitation of animal resources, from which we can highlight some practices: (i) cattle raising, predominantly of bovines, sheep and swine (ii) animal husbandry, notably of horses and camels; and (iii) hunting. Even if shepherding has a special place in Judeo-Christian cultural worldview, being an activity often referenced in Biblical scripture, be it by association with historical characters, such as King David, or by allegory, when it identifies the Christians as the flock of God, its economic relevance is all but negligible in the Crusader Era. Money was to be found in the production of various other raw goods: meat and milk, wool, hide and fur, honey and wax, and so forth. In Syria, differently from Palestine, we still see, to this day, rudimentary corporations, usually centered in parochial villages, mediating the trade between individual producers and the urban hubs of Antioch, Aleppo and Damascus; this, however, was but a feeble vestige of the complex socio-economic structures that existed in the prosperous years of the Umayyads and of the Abbasids, severely disturbed by the collapse of the Caliphate.

A Muslim chronicler from late 12th Century Baghdad famously described that the holy sites of al-Quds [Jerusalem], as well as the routes of pilgrimage used for the hajj were now infested with swine, a double entendre that likely referred to both actual pigs and Franks. Nonetheless, there is no evidence that the arrival of the Crusaders provoked an increase of pig-herding nor of pork consumption, for the simple reason that the Islamic authorities that used to rule the realm before them had never actually interfered in non-Muslim dietary practices. By the same token, these activities, regarded as basic fixtures of daily life, were submitted to few controls by the newly-established Latin authorities, with the exception of those seen as pertaining to nobiliar interests, such as milling, creation of horses and hunting, which were submitted to specific feudal obligations.

Yet other aspect so fundamental to Levantine society, that also warranted several mentions in the Bible, is fishing, both riverine and maritime. The eastern Mediterranean in particular seemed particularly blessed by Neptunian plentiness ever since time immemorial, as the wealth of Phoenicia attested, and, in the centuries of the Crusader Era, the goods harnessed from the water bodies were still fundamental to the basic diet, from the rich to the poor. From fish to crustaceans, seafood forms a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, and, sometimes, we see some oddities such as dolphin skin and whale meat mentioned by contemporary authors as pertaining to the communal table of the wealthy merchants and noblemen. Other worthy mentions are given to the harvest of sea snails that produce the purple dye (Tyrian purple), so venerated by the ancient Romans, senators and emperors, and the extraction of corals from the reefs near Egypt and Cyprus, well-valued in the Syrian emporia.

Finally, one essential production of Mediterranean societies is that of salt. For millennia, the sea littoral has seen the construction of various structures designed to harvest this infinite resource that whitens the blue water of the globe, and, like every other rulers before them, the Latins in the Outremer enforced their own policies to carefully regulate the production of salt. As most of the aforementioned economic activities, the menial and intensive labour dedicated to produce salt is ever performed by the submitted native Palestinians and Syrians, but the greatest profits of this commerce, heretofore reaped by the Arabic and Jewish merchants, now pertain mostly to the Italian and Provençal entrepreneurs, by the decree of the Latin Princes.

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A 14th C. painting from Milan depicting two fishermen and a fantastic giant fish


1.2. From the cities


In general terms, it is correct to say that the manorial system peculiar to European feudal entities was imported by the Frankish equestrian caste to the Outremer, but it had to be adapted to suit the socioeconomic structures developed in the Near East. This means that a lord, in the countryside, holds a share of the land as an hereditary property, granted to him by the suzerain - or, as was the case of the veterans of the First Crusade, by the right of conquest - and the people who work the land are obliged to provide a share of their labor to sustain the “household”, including those employed by the lord, his knights and sergeants. This in contrast with the iqta system adopted by the Arabs, one in which the nobleman is entitled to a share of the wealth produced by the laborers, in pecunia, but does not possesses the land itself.

In the cities, however, the dynamics of power and wealth distribution are markedly distinct, and more similar to the aforementioned tax-farming structures hitherto adopted by the Arabs. The Count of Tyre, as much as the Count of Acre, is deemed the lord protector of the subjects residing inside the limits of the walls, much like the King of England for London; however, one would be more likely to find his vassals living in a palace or mansion in Tyre than in a rural manor, this very much unlike the English barons. And to sustain their wealth, the suzerain will entitle the vassal not with a piece of the city itself, evidently, but rather with a share of the collected tributary and fiscal income. And, indeed, it was a very substantial portion of their wealth, likely larger than that of the agricultural income.

While the income derived from the tributation of the urban activities by itself was large enough to justify detailed regulations by the Frankish lords - whose charters defined provisions for all sorts of activities, from smithing to shoemaking -, the one that incited their constant interest (and greed) was commerce. And a lot of attention is dispensed to ensure that the merchants bringing their goods, from either land or sea, are paying the lordly dues. The lordly retainers and sergeants are appointed officers of a cadre of agents dedicated to oversee the wharfs and gates, so that no wagon of Arabic insense, Ethiopian ivory or Cathayan [i.e. Chinese] silk, nor any shipment of French wine or Burgundian timber penetrates into the city without this very fact reverting in a payment to the lord. And the magnanimity of one magnate incurs in the loss of another one, because the merchants, knowing that the tolls in Acre are lesser than those of Beirut, will undoubtedly prefer the first instead of the latter.

Predictably, the prevention of the nobiliar conflicts arising from this “fiscal war” will be a perpetual concern of the Latin Princes, and, later of the Kings of the Outremer, lest the nobles might shed their own blood out of a conflict fostered by “Mammon”.


1.3. The guilds and the caravans


A guild is a corporation of laborers dedicated to a certain craft, an hierarchical and rule-bound structure of compulsory adhesion. More than simply a code of conduct, the statute of the guild is a norm. And just as a fish cannot swim without being immersed in water, so a craftsman cannot develop his industry without being integrated into the guild.

The lord, being the suzerain, has the right to exact tribute and impose certain obligations over the lowborn caste, but, unless he is a tyrant, he will be well aware of the complexities of the different strata, and preserve the distinctive treatment owed to each of them. The serf is bound to the land, but the yeomen and free tenants are not, and they are all too different from the artisans and craftsmen, whose skills make the fruit of their labor more valuable, because they are unique. And the lord knows, after all, that he cannot interfere or attempt to control the corporations, because they are bound to their own order, much like the monks are bound to their monastic congregation, and not to his household or his vassalage, as are the sergeants and the knights.


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Painting depicting a parchment producer (c. 14th C.). Owing to the demand for parchment to sustain the Outremerine bureaucracy, this production rose to proeminence in the Levant during the 12th Century, and this led to the formation of a guild in Jerusalem


For a long period of the Crusader Era, the venues of maritime trade were de facto monopolized by the Italian city-republics, with the prime agents of the flow of goods from the Orient being Venice and Genoa. Later on, we see a greater presence of other groups, notably the Provençals from Montpellier, the Ragusans, the Iberian Galicians and even the Flemish, who will arrive to exploit the profitable Egyptian markets. And everyone of these peoples are benefited by different lords of the Outremer according to the respective political interests, usually with the grant of special rights of private districts and self-applied laws and customs.

If the maritime commerce is dominated by the Europeans, the same cannot be said about the land one, which is still a domain of the Jews, the Syrians, the Arabs, and the Persians because they harness the routes of Asia. Travels in these are dangerous ones, for every merchant can be easy prey to a dedicated band of Turcoman raiders, Bedouin bandits or Yemeni pirates, unless he is joined in a caravan, and, even so, he ought to sacrifice some coins to be worth the protection of sellswords. Some of these even became the stuff of popular legends in Arabia and in Persia, and a common motif is that of the noble mercenary - usually an exiled noble - who vows to protect pilgrims in the way to Mecca and is assaulted by impious cross-bearing barbarians, only to find out that the caravan is transporting a princess, to whom he will marry.

And the various caravans, whether they dialogue in Arab, in Persian, or even in Hindi, all come to Cairo, Damascus or Aleppo, and from there to Acre, Beirut and Antioch, among others, and so the wealth cycles from the four corners of the Earth in one season, only to begin anew in the next one.


1.4. The Arteries and Veins of Commerce

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Detail of an illustration inside of a Medieval "Peryplus" depicting a caravan of merchants in a venue of the Silk Road (c. 13th C.A.D.)

The heart of Asia pumps the flow of commerce across the four corners of the continent, much like the heart of man movements the humors to every of its flesh crevices. Silk, jade and other precious stones, porcelain and teas flow from the bountiful realms of Serica and Mangi [i.e. Manzi/Southern China] into Transoxiana, and from there it spreads northwards to the steppe of Cumania, westwards to the riverlands of Babilonia and southwards to the realm of Ghor, all of these that once were mere provinces in the universal kingdom of Alexander the Great.

From India Magna [i.e. Indian Subcontinent] comes the spices and saffron, the medicines and the colored woods, but these more often than not come by the venues of the ocean, because the realms of the Indians are bordered by insurmountable mountains and unforgiving deadlands. These ships go by the way of Hormuz or around Arabia into the Red Sea, and are avidly procured by the viziers of the Sultan of Persia and by the camel-lords of Oman and Yemen before they can be conducted to the Mediterranean littoral, but here the routes are acresced of incense, camels, dyes and sugar.

And from the distant realms of Abyssinia [i.e. modern Ethiopia] and Azania [i.e. Horn of Africa region] the Franks also fortunate to receive so much as they are awarded from Asia; of ivory, exotic furs and hides, incense, gems and even live animals, many of which will adorn the menageries of the crowned princes, from striped horses to bald black lions, and unicorn-bulls.

All of these goods flow into the Mediterranean, as aforementioned, and by this virtue the masters of the Levant were fated to be the benefactors of the flow of commerce, considering that it is by the ports of Palestine, Phoenicia and Syria that these riches will be transshipped to Italy, Iberia, Francia and beyond. Once the Crusaders made themselves the masters of the realm of Egypt, they finally welded the conduit between the profitable “Erythreian” venue and the Mediterranean one and the collected wealth inaugurated a new age of material development for Europe as a whole, even as much as the Silk Road continues to be submitted to the monopoly of the Persian commonwealth.


1.5. Money in itself


Until the Crusader Era, the circulation of gold coinage was rare in Latin Europe. Barring what could be harvested from Transylvanian and Bohemian mines or the Rhenish alluvium, most of it had to be imported from the Moorish caliphates, which, in turn, acquired precious metals from the distant kingdoms of Ghana, of Nigritica and Farosiana [i.e. Nigritai and Pharusii, refers to Songhay/Mali] and of Benichileba [i.e. “Bnichilebs”, ITTL refers to the Fulani], inhabited by coal-skinned giants and dog-headed barbarians.

European gold, in general, was “recycled” from what was already in circulation, as it was common for it to be reforged from centuries-old pieces of treasure and similar devices. It is said that the Avar hoard plundered by Charlemagne some three centuries before the Crusades was the one destined to finance Duke Godfrey’s Lorrainer army, coming from the Archbishopric of Aachen, whose gold pieces had been gifted by the greatest scion of the Carolingian dynasty.

To be fair, precisely because it was comparatively rare, there was never a substantial demand for gold before the Crusader Era; it could really only be acquired by crowned aristocrats and ecclesiastic institutions, and it was not commonly used as a medium of exchange. Silver, in contrast, was produced continuously through the Middle Ages in Europe, and even exported from there. It was mainly extracted from Sardinia (11th-12th C.), Franconia (10th-12th C.), Saxony (12th - 14th C.) and Bohemia, the latter which supplied silver in great quantities to the occidental markets for centuries. While gold was commonly used for ornamental purposes, silver’s main function was exactly to furnish material for the production of coinage, and thus it was more usual to be seen circulating as money than as a decoration.

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Currencies - then wholly dependent on the exchange of metal, as paper money was unheard of, barring one or another regional oddities such as in Prague - were generally based around the copper (sometimes bronze) billon and the more valuable (silver) denarius (later: Denier or Denario) thus named by the Carolingians in an attempt to emulate the ancient Roman coinage paradigms.

In Europe, Rhōmania alone had a complex currency that orbited around gold coinage, descended from the ancient Roman (gold) solidus, and which for centuries until the 11th one had been a standard of international commerce, owing to its substantial fineness, until its abrupt debasement by Imperial fiat. Yet another applause that must be bestowed to the the terrific Komnenoi because they restored prestige to the gold currency in the form of the hyperpyron. To understand its influence, one must see that two words to refer to gold coinage that will be elsewhere in the continent for some centuries to come - “besant” and “perpera” - are related to “Byzantium” and to the Greek name of the currency, respectively. There were, of course, other currencies such as the silver “aspron” and the copper “tetarteton” (one which, before Alexios I Komnenos, referred to a type of gold currency), but outside of the Empire, none of these were as popular as the gold coinage.



Depiction of an hyperpyron of the reign of Basileus John II Komnenos

In the Arabic world, including al-Andalus and the Maghreb, the gold standard was in force too, and, oddly enough, the name for the gold coin, dinar, derived from the Roman name for the silver coins, the aforementioned denarius.

Now, this explained, we must repeat that the, in the Crusader State, urban economy had a strong numismatic element, and, unlike in other polities in Europe, the central government, even in the earlier moments of its political consolidation, made an effort to control and develop coinage production, to make it less dependent in the acquisition of Rhōmaiōn or Saracen gold - even if these were free to circulate. Thus, while in Europe it was acceptable for counts and barons, as well as bishops, to struck coins, without any sort of royal oversight (even if a common motif for coins was the depiction of the monarch’s effigy), and this from Castille to Poland, in the Levant, the Archiepiscopalian Office from a very early date evoked the powers to determine the minting of coins in Jerusalem. Nobles were not actually forbidden to do so, but it seems that, for a long time, they consolidated a customary consensus around the notion that the coins had to be produced by the Jerusalemite mint, and were more content with simply imposing tolls over monetary circulation than actively participating in production. This centralization of the currency making would become the norm throughout all the existence of the Crusader State in the Orient, unlike what would later happen in the Latin Kingdom of Egypt, where coinage minting would be devolved to provincial level for many other decades before being centralized in Damietta.


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Depiction of the templimi or Frankish besants (c. 13th C.A.D.). Cross motifs, as one can imagine, were in vogue for most of its period, in association of the central symbolic element of the Crusader ideology


If in its first century, the Latin-Levantine currency could not be regarded as anything better than a vulgar imitation of the Saracen and Rhōmaiōn numismatics, by the middle of the 13th Century, it was developed enough to circulate as an autonomous and particularly valuable trade due to its purity in comparison to its European counterparts. Its gold standard was mostly on the hyperpyron, commonly called Frankish besant (bezanti francorum) or “templimi”, because the mint was established near the Temple of Solomon. Its earlier production showed a preference for varied religious iconography, from crosses and fishes to lions and angels, but later on, as it became standardized, depictions shift to consistent patterns, such as an abstract representation of a river sided by date palms, representing the Jordan or perhaps the Garden of Eden, and the symbol of the true cross. It is worth mentioning that royal effigies are very rarely used in Jerusalemite coinage, in all its centuries, a bizarre similitude with Islamic traditions in detriment of what was more usual in Christian polities.

The silver coinage was called denario, another one based in the denarius, and, perhaps because it was less valuable and the metal itself was more readily available, it experienced a greater production and exchange than that of gold currency. The most common one, however, was the bronze "papalesco", thus named because in its early years it served to homage Pope Urban II, and was frequently used in commercial intercourse, notably between the Italian republics and the Levantine emporia.

Now, as mentioned previously, considering that gold exchange was mostly dependent on the Moorish intermediaries in the trans-saharan commerce, it would take until the late 13th Century, with the consolidation of the Crusader Kingdom of Egypt, for alternative trade routes to be solidified the links between Europe and Ultragetulia and western Ethiopia [OBS: Ethiopia here is referencing the Sahel region as a whole, and not the modern country, which will be referred as Abyssinia in this time frame].

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The consolidation of the monastic militarized orders and of the trading guilds in the Levant quickly led to the development of the first forms of paper currencies of the Medieval Occident, in a similar fashion to what had already happened in Imperial Cathay some centuries before.

In the case of the Templarians, most certainly inspired by earlier developments by the Venetians and other trade-venturing agencies, we see, as early as the 1180s one of the first evidences of the adoption of a rudimentary banking system. This worked by employing a deposit/draft mechanism: one could place his liquid assets in the custody of a chapter of these institutions, and then obtain a similar value in other place, all of this controlled by a “letter of good-faith” [i.e. a credit document]. It was a matter of time before this system became complex by the establishment of a series of provincial houses, most notably in Provence, in Burgundy and in Italy. By the late 13th Century, their wealth had grown so much that it put the orders in conflict with ecclesiastic and monastic institutions, and in 1273 A.D. the incumbent Pope summoned a council to discipline aspects related to the dispensation of largess by the sword orders. This, in spite of imposing a sort of regulation, did not prevent them from doing so - not in the least because the Papacy itself was the main beneficiary of the stipends paid by the Templarian overmasters, and this, for a long time, would prevent them from being afflicted by the will of crowned heads and epicoscopalian entities alike.

Last, but not least, a word about the credit titling system developed by the Venetians. It was most certainly not created by them, as there is evidence about the use of contractual negotiable instruments in other commercial polities before, but it were certainly the Venetians that perfected it by employing a sophisticated regulation and even devising incentives for individuals to act as intermediaries as “micro-banks”, thus pulverizing the use of credit and hard money. This because, unlike other feudal and republican rulers, the Doges of Venice frequently interfered in the private circulation of credit and in contractual activities by imposing statutes, which usually were conducted by the guilds. If the mercantile guilds at first frowned upon the State’s interference, they soon realized its benefits when it became clear that the Republic itself would guarantee the fulfillment of their contracts and instruments, even against foreign contractors.

Unlike many of the other political entities in the Mediterranean, the “Serene Republic” had the military strength and will to enforce their own laws and contracts, and this they often did in Alpine and Sicilian Italy, even across the sea, in their colonies and client states such as Ragusa and Zara. Ancona, for example, would learn this in the worst way in 1288, when the Republic of Venice declared war on her to demand the fulfillment of contracts defaulted by Anconitan debtors against a firm of four Venetian citizens. The price to pay was a heavy one: the Venetian armada destroyed that of Ancona and stormed the city, plundering it with such a violence that the Pope himself issued a formal protest threatening the Doge with excommunication. Fortunately for the Venetians, the question was solved by a hefty donation to the Holy See.

The trustworthiness of Venetian credit instruments was proverbial, so much that one would say that it was easier to break a castle wall than a contract signed under the banner of the winged lion. Not unlike what used to happen in ancient Rome, there was a bizarre superstition and ceremonial element in contract-binding in Venetian (and, by extension, in Franco-Levantine) entrepreneurial culture, because all contracts had a preamble entrusting the fulfilment of its clauses to the protection of the saints. Even more curiously, there were various forms to “bypass” the eccleasiastic prohibition of usury, by simplory expedients such as using specific terminology that avoided mentioning “interest” and more peculiar ones such as inserting in the contract a clause obliging both parties to pay a fraction of their wealth to the Church to guard it from the devils that infested the human soul with greed…


1.6. By the hand of Man


After the establishment of the Latin Principality of Jerusalem, it did not took long for the arriving European settlers to assimilate into the Levantine economic arena, with its own peculiar crafts and industries. If it is correct to say that the Oriental hand-work practices were in some ways more sophisticated than those of the contemporary Europeans, one can not ignore the fact that the latter had some of their own to contribute and, even more than that, that they quick learned how to endeavor in these “foreign” professions.

Regarding basic crafts, the most noteworthy mentions go to the development of various Frankish textile establishments, as it happened in the city of Jerusalem itself, and also in Tyre and Beirut. While it was a norm, in Europe, to have separate agencies dedicated to various processes involved in the creation of clothing, like dyeing, tanning, weaving, and so forth, in the Levant, these were usually concentrated in the same establishment, and, with time, they became large enough to create their own regional guilds. The most notable example was that of Damascus, where one could find, in these years, a bustling district saturated with fabric workshops.

Regarding textiles, the most significant craftsmanship was tapestry, because it was particularly lucrative; in the course of the 12th to 14th Centuries, the acquisition of fine clothing and carpets became a fixture of the European elites, from Leon to Krakow, usually under the umbrella-term of “Saracen cloth”.

Even if the Syrians, Arabs and Egyptians were quick to belittle the Latin industriousness, believing their own work to be much superior to that of these barbarians, the truth was that the Franks did have their own areas of expertise. Two of these were woodwork and masonry, most notably in the construction of fortresses and cathedrals, with few parallels in the Islamic world when we compare the complexity and durability of the structures. Harnessing the plentiful cedar forests of Lebanon and the dependable quarries of Palestine and Syria, the Franks endeavored into a multitude of projects, from military to civilian and religious purposes. While one could suppose that aristocrats would impose these sorts of buildings, it is worth noting that the operations, in many places, especially in provincial parishes, were executed as a communitarian affair, in which whole families joined into an association to undertake a project, commonly furnished by donations in kind to sustain their efforts.

One of the most prized industries of the Orient, which exploded in popularity during the Crusader Age, was glassmaking. The demand for it was always high in Europe, be it to create stained glasses in temples, or utensils such as vials for perfume and substances and culinary vessels, and even artistic sculptures, like the enameled black-glass lion gifted to King Thomas I of England by a certain Latin-Levantine monarch in 1193 A.D., which to this day survives in the Palace of London. And the supply of raw materials in the Levant is particularly significant; in fact, the preferred site for the extraction of sand to produce glass by the ancient Romans was precisely in a beach near Acre, where sand is naturally mixed with lyme. The main foundries would be established by the Latins in Tyre and Caesarea for the production of raw glass, one that can be acquired by other specialized craftsmen to devise their own personal compositions, most notably in Homs.



Depiction of a enameled glass chalice of Outremerine confection (c. 13th C.A.D.)

A similar fashion was developed in contemplation of ceramics, and the growth of economic institutions in the Near East coincided with a mass-production increase of pottery, both for the domestic and international markets. Much like glassware, pottery can either be fashioned for utility or for ornamentation, and there are plenty of contemporary examples.

Finally, one can not ignore the role of metal-making in the Franco-Levantine economic culture. As in Europe and in every other place of the world, metals are transformed and alloys forged for a multitude of purposes that defy any necessity of listing. However, one single aspect, so peculiar to the Asian craftsmanship, is very deserving of a mention, that is, the forging of “Iosuean steel” - thus named in reference to the Biblical figure Joshua, widely venerated as a pre-Christian hero in the Medieval Era; folklore of the 13th Century ascribed to him a legendary magic sword -, a fixture of the Damascene industry. It was, then, a priceless specialty of the heartland of Syria, made from steel imported from India and forged by the foundries of Damascus into fine blades with bizarre, wave-like carvings.
 
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Where is "Ultragetulia"? Also, are the thoroughly Latin names for the Sahel a sign of future Christian dominion over North Africa?

I also noticed a mention of Galicians -- interesting that they'd end up with privileges somewhere instead of Catalans...
 
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For a long period of the Crusader Era, the venues of maritime trade were de facto monopolized by the Italian city-republics, with the prime agents of the flow of goods from the Orient being Venice and Genoa. Later on, we see a greater presence of other groups, notably the Provençals from Montpellier, the Ragusans, the Iberian Galicians and even the Flemish, who will arrive to exploit the profitable Egyptian markets.
The Ragusans?! Perhaps I should ask about Zara and the Dalmatico this go around! Sure, the last interlude still had Dalmatia under the Venetian yoke, and implied it to be continuous, and there probably isn't anything to undermine the Venetians, but it would be interesting to see Zara's continued survival, as the 1202 Siege of Zara isn't likely to repeat as it did OTL. Dalmatia does have great potential to be a competitor to-

Unlike many of the other political entities in the Mediterranean, the “Serene Republic” had the military strength and will to enforce their own laws and contracts, and this they often did in Alpine and Sicilian Italy, even across the sea, in their colonies and client states such as Ragusa and Zara.
Then Zara said to him, "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Ausonia?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Benecia."

Jokes and biblical references aside, good update! As with Dan, economics aren't exactly my thing, but it was quite interesting to see how developments have gone!
 
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Oh, this is very good indeed. It stands to reason that the persistence of the Crusading effort would entail the continued relevance and good standing of the Templars and other such orders. Despite that fact that the position of the Templars might chafe here and there (not to mention that certain parties would certainly love to use an excuse to plunder their coffers), the events of OTL will not come to pass. (Or at least, not without a significant delay.)

The continued existence (and thriving success) of the Templars, and in particular their proto-banking system, paired with the financial developments of (primarily) Venice, strongly hints at an earlier financial/mercantile renaissance. This is immensely bolstered by the (enduring) re-commitment to solidly backed currency on the part of both the (much strengthened, compared to OTL) Byzantines and the Crusader state. In this context, note that the OTL adage "bad money drives out good" (which is oft-misunderstood) was initially coined in the context of the monarchy debasing the currency. That is: if the crown supports currency debasement and offers perverse incentives, this leads to bad money driving out good money. However, if various powerful monarchies explicitly commit to solidly backed currency, all sane people will (if given the chance) opt to accept only this reliable currency (and will refuse to accepted unbacked currency).

All this means that there will be major effects on the economic development of all Christendom. Money will, in general, be more likely to be reliable; the systems for the transfer of money will be more elaborate and more secure than in OTL during the same time-frame; and the instruments for mercantile ventures and their financing will be more refined.
 
Suffice to say. I don't know much about economics of the period, partially because I don't really know the economic malases that debasement causes, other than the fact its bad, in the long-term. Then again, I was never good at economics in general.
 
@St. Just - Ultragetulia is supposed to be a region of West Africa, as @Sarufiyyun correctly predicted, encompassing the historical lands of the Empire of Ghana. I realize that the name is kinda horrid, it should be something like Transgaetulia (beyond Gaetulia). I'm still toying with the idea of having these Ptolemy-inspired names catching up in the Middle Ages. There will certainly be a greater Christian presence in the Maghreb, but, even if it doesn't happen, it won't be directly related to the establishment of certain naming conventions. In this case, it is simply an exonym used in a Frankish-POV chronicle. These are things I'll be interested in fleshing out better in the future, once we get to tackle the affairs in North Africa.

In any case, I should have put some footnotes *facepalm* ... When I edit the post, I'll post here in the thread.

Also, I might have had a brainfart when I mentioned the Galicians... It would have indeed been more senseful to work with the Catalans. But I'll try to work with this idea too!

@DanMcCollum - thanks for the compliment! Next one will be about religion. We'll be taking a lot of subjects.

@Damian0358 - Ragusa and Zara will certainly avoid their ultimate fates compared to OTL. For a long time, they'll stay in the sphere of influence of the Venetians - which, in itself, is not a bad thing altogether, if it prevents them from being pushed around by regional powers. What we can be sure about is that they will retain their status as client maritime republics and will have a role to play in the grand scheme of things regarding the Mediterranean commerce.

@Skallagrim - very very acute observations!!! We'll indeed see a world in which not only the alt-Templars but the Orders as a whole will survive longer with their own peculiarities. We have historical examples of long lasting ones such as the Order of Malta and the Teutonics, so it is no stretch to conceive a world in which the Templars can have a lasting presence in European geopolitics. Ironically enough, if they survive into some modern form, it is less probable that we'll see so many conspiracy theories abounding, because they owe more to their abrupt extinction than to their actual historical reach (at least IMHO). We'll see multi-sided political institutions developing, between feudal lords, ecclesiastic authorities, organized merchant groups and monastic orders.

And you also correctly predicted one of my intentions when writing about economics: I intend to explore a world in which we see a much earlier commercial renaissance, as you mentioned. Perhaps it won't incur exactly in an alt-analogue to the Great Divergence, but we can certainly conceive a scenario in which complex socioeconomic interactions can produce more significant and "modern" structures and institutions, diffuse as they ought to be, especially because we'll be seeing a greater integration between the Mediterranean world, vis-a-vis a (re)growing Byzantine Empire, Italian republics, later on a relevant Aquitanian/Provençal/Catalan political sphere and Christian establishments in North Africa. All of this coupled with Crusader states in Egypt and Syria that allow easy accesses to the Indosphere and to the Far East, and without neglecting OTL growth of the North Sea and Baltic-based entities, such as England and Flanders and the Scandinavians. With this, we'll have Europe arguably even more integrated into sophisticated economic complexes during the High Middle Ages, something that seems to have begun IOTL during the Late Middle Ages, but suffered a serious blow with the plague, and then restarted anew in the 15th Century, getting stronger after the Great Discoveries.

Let's see how we can experiment with these ideas!
 
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Ragusa and Zara will certainly avoid their ultimate fates compared to OTL. For a long time, they'll stay in the sphere of influence of the Venetians - which, in itself, is not a bad thing altogether, if it prevents them from being pushed around by regional powers. What we can be sure about is that they will retain their status as client maritime republics and will have a role to play in the grand scheme of things regarding the Mediterranean commerce.
If nothing else, the assimilation of the Dalmatico by the Venetians is something that I want to see avoided, since it adds an interesting new element to the region (one which, due to its history, ended up gradually and eventually disappearing by 1898), not just in terms of culture and language, but also in the cultural interactions with the neighboring Slavs (which might still cause it to gradually disappear, but conflict with Venice might reinforce an individual identity for the Dalmatico, especially since they did lean towards the other relevant regional power, that being Hungary/Croatia, as seen in OTL; one example being the final Zaratin rebellion in roughly 1181, placing itself under the protection of Hungary and, in turn, the Papacy, with Venice being distracted enough to not immediately deal with them. The power struggle between Venice and Hungary certainly allowed Zara and the Dalmatico to position themselves towards whomever the balance shifts to, even if the latter was preferred due to recognizing their official municipal status). The most visible example of this interaction which survives in modern Serbo-Croatian is the name used when referring to the Venetian Republic - Mletačka republika.

Starting with Venecia, we first see betacism as it passes through Dalmatian Romance, becoming Benecia. Then we see a vowel reduction, causing the first "e" to drop off, becoming Bnecia, which, under interaction with the Slavic tongue (which referred to Veneti as Venetci with a silent first e), becomes Bnetci/Bneci (as seen in Fausto Veranzio's 1595 five-language dictionary, depicting the word for Venice in Chakavian as Bnetczi; though it seems the vowel reduction occurred after the change in tongue, but I can't be sure because finding info on this is difficult). Following that, assimilation causes the b next to the n to become an m, turning into Mneci. And finally, dissimilation caused the mn to turn into an ml, becoming Mleci, which is, from my understanding, the way Venice was apparently referred to by the Slavs during this period. So, Mletačka just means Venetian (Mlečanin being someone from Venice). At least, some folks online say so. Since betacism is something found throughout the Slavic world due to the Greeks, 'Bneci' could've developed independently from Dalmato-Romance (as possibly the case with the Slovene Benetke [some saying that local Slavs did the betacizing, whether it be proto-Slovenes or a now-extinct Slav tribe in Slavia Friulana], and [related?] Czech/Slovak Benátky, when referring to Venice). Still, random fact of the day!

It'd probably be hard to achieve, avoiding their assimilation, but a man can dream!

Also, speaking of editing posts, you haven't forgotten to replace Zavida in Chapter 52 with "the Serbian prince Desa of Rascia, son of the Grand Prince Uroš I Vukanović," have you?

EDIT: I'm not as knowledgeable on Dalmatico affairs, but the Dalmatia Ascendant timeline by Iluvatar (both the original thread and its reboot) provides a lot of insightful info on them, both from Iluvatar's own research and all those whom commented on it, such as MakiRoc. Would recommend giving them a look (alongside just general searching), if you're interested in the topic!
 
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@Damian0358 - excellent post, as always! I should have you nominated special consultant for all the aspects related to the Balkans and Slavic nations, you are very, very knowledgeable about it. I had never heard even once about "Bnecian", nor I understood, at first, the linguistic changes experiences by the Dalmatian cultures under Venetian influence. Very, very interesting stuff. I'll be sure to flesh it out someday. This brings interesting perspectives.

And thanks once again for the reminder about replacing Zavida. I've indeed forgotten. Now we're good.

I appreciate the suggestion about "Dalmatia Ascendant" TL. I don't recall seeing it before, so I'll sure give a look, it might give some inspiration to work with Adriatic-related parts.

This in fact reminds me I have to edit the OP to update the TL year-by-year developments.
 
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Excellent post, as always! I should have you nominated special consultant for all the aspects related to the Balkans and Slavic nations, you are very, very knowledgeable about it. I had never heard even once about "Bnecian", nor I understood, at first, the linguistic changes experiences by the Dalmatian cultures under Venetian influence. Very, very interesting stuff. I'll be sure to flesh it out someday. This brings interesting perspectives
You're too kind! I wouldn't agree about being nominated special consultant, I'd more suggest a special council if you insisted on the nomination, especially including some of the fine folks whom commented on Iluvatar's TL. Just keep in mind it isn't just linguistic changes experienced OTL, but straight-up assimilation and attempted integration - that is, the Dalmatico all but replaced by Venetians/Italians. Venetian domination and assimilation of the region would be among the things that would later influence Italian irredentist beliefs that Dalmatia needed to be part of their nation.

Also, interestingly enough, because of the Slovenes using Benečija for Veneto and Beneška Slovenija for Slavia Friulana in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Benecìa is apparently used in modern day Italian when referring to Slavia Friulana, Veneto and its Slovenes.
 
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Just so you guys now, specially newer readers who might have a difficult time catching up with all the chapters, I've finally updated the OP to include all the relevant episodes of the year-by-year timeline. If you note any inconsistences, please let me know.
 
I think my favorite aspect of how this timeline is developing is how we seem to be seeing the Crusades reframed as one of histories Great Migrations in a way; as the Arabs burst forth in the 600s and brought their languague, culture and religion and interacted with the lands they conquered, so now we're seeing feudal "Franks" do the same and I've never thought of that possibility before.
 
A guild is a corporation of laborers dedicated to a certain craft, an hierarchical and rule-bound structure of compulsory adhesion. More than simply a code of conduct, the statute of the guild is a norm. And just as a fish cannot swim without being immersed in water, so a craftsman cannot develop his industry without being integrated into the guild.

The lord, being the suzerain, has the right to exact tribute and impose certain obligations over the lowborn caste, but, unless he is a tyrant, he will be well aware of the complexities of the different strata, and preserve the distinctive treatment owed to each of them. The serf is bound to the land, but the yeomen and free tenants are not, and they are all too different from the artisans and craftsmen, whose skills make the fruit of their labor more valuable, because they are unique. And the lord knows, after all, that he cannot interfere or attempt to control the corporations, because they are bound to their own order, much like the monks are bound to their monastic congregation, and not to his household or his vassalage, as are the sergeants and the knights.
This is going to lead to some interesting effects down the line. Like several others, I await the rise earlier modern commerce.

And from the distant realms of Abyssinia [i.e. modern Ethiopia] and Azania [i.e. Horn of Africa region] the Franks also fortunate to receive so much as they are awarded from Asia; of ivory, exotic furs and hides, incense, gems and even live animals, many of which will adorn the menageries of the crowned princes, from striped horses to bald black lions, and unicorn-bulls.
These alternate names for African animals are quite fascinating. Though, I should point out, the rhinoceros had been named as such by the Greeks a while back. I would also expect the black leopards to be referred to as panthers in a land as suffused with Latin as the Crusader State.

like the enameled black-glass lion gifted to King Thomas I of England by a certain Latin-Levantine monarch in 1193 A.D.,
His majesty, king Tommy of house Atkins?
 
I think my favorite aspect of how this timeline is developing is how we seem to be seeing the Crusades reframed as one of histories Great Migrations in a way; as the Arabs burst forth in the 600s and brought their languague, culture and religion and interacted with the lands they conquered, so now we're seeing feudal "Franks" do the same and I've never thought of that possibility before.
@5000 Cows - that's an interesting observation. It's something I've thought about when I delved in the matter of the colonization projects of the Crusading European populations, but, indeed, I have yet to flesh it out more. I'll be sure to give it some other insights as we advance deeper into the TL's chronology.

It also reminds me of one of Steven Runciman's quotes, in which he says that to some controversial perspectives, the Crusades were the "last of the barbarian invasions", at least from the Islamic and Byzantine POVs.

@Icedaemon - Good point, indeed. I forgot to look up the terminology about Afro-Asiatic fauna to see if the modern names were actually antique, so I took the easiest path and simply made up some names. I'll reconsider the necessity of adressing them as such, in light what you've pointed out.

EDIT: Oddly enough, the Meriam-Webster Dictionary points out that "rhinoceros" in spite of being a Greek name, was only used from about the 14th Century onwards. They cite no source, however. Perhaps we can indeed experiment with some alternate terminology for non-European fauna?
 
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