(chronosomatically) Contemplating the Navel

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The simultaneous rise of Portuguese and Turkish power during the 15th and 16th centuries thoroughly illustrates both sides of humanity's transition in mobility. The two forces resided at extreme ends of the Mediterranean, and both powers exhibited growth rates relatively equal to each other as well as far above any other political entity at that time. (The geographic polarity of the two sovereignties is worth noting because it continues the dualistic theme of both the hip bones and of East and West, and, furthermore, amplifies the notion of Italy as a new center.) Since the beginning of the 15th century, Portugal wished to participate in the trade between Europe and the orient. Goods from India and the Far East reached the Mediterranean by way of the Black Sea or over the Levant, and, for most of the 15th century, Venice controlled, and fiercely protected, a shipping monopoly throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Excluded from the established trade channels, Portugal decided to find a new route to the East by sailing around Africa. As the Portuguese progressively extended their domain by sea, the Turks, likewise, extended their domain by land. The Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453 marked the beginning of the Ottoman empire and its subsequent spread into eastern Europe, Asia Minor, and northern Africa, and thereby gained control of the trade juncture between the East and the West. The Turks continued to grant commercial privileges to Venice, but the Turks were also in a dominant position and the two parties were often at war. Just one year before the Turkish/Venetian war of 1499, the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India, and, thus, established a new and irrevocable trade route between Europe and the orient.




Stephen Lauf © 2017.02.12