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Jeddah and the India Trade in the Sixteenth Century: Arabian Contexts and Imperial Policy

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Chapter Summary

This article argues that despite the advent of Ottoman rule and the encroachment of the Portuguese, the commercial system of the sixteenth century Red Sea, in particular the trade in spices brought from India, was characterised by continuities with Mamluk practice. Further, it emphasises the importance of local politics, especially the role of the Sharifs of Mecca, and rivalries between individual Red Sea ports as factors in determining the nature of trade routes. Despite Ottoman dominance of the entire Red Sea littoral, Istanbul’s ability to impose its will on this so-called “Ottoman lake” was in fact very limited.



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