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The Ottoman Administration of the Spice Trade in the Sixteenth-century Red Sea and Persian Gulf

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Following the Ottoman conquest of Egypt and the Levant in 1516-17, administrators of the empire began to experiment with several innovative strategies to increase the total volume of the spice trade between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, and to maximize the state's share of its revenues. These became progressively more sophisticated over time, until by the end of the 1560s a comprehensive infrastructure was in place, including a rationalized empire-wide tax regime for regulating private trade, a network of "imperial factors" who bought spices for the sultan in overseas emporiums, and an annual convoy of spice galleys that shipped cargoes of state-owned pepper from the Yemen to the markets of Egypt and Istanbul. All of this, combined with natural advantages of geography and the goodwill of Muslim traders in the Indian Ocean, enabled the Ottomans to mount a formidable challenge to the "pepper monopoly" of the Portuguese Estado da India. À la suite de la conquête ottomane de l'Égypte et du Levant en 1516-17, les administrateurs de l'empire commencèrent à mettre en application diverses stratégies novatrices dans le but d'augmenter le volume total du commerce des épices entre l'océan Indien et la Méditerranée et de maximiser la part de l'État dans ses revenus. Ces stratégies se perfectionnèrent avec le temps et vers la fin des années 1560 une infrastructure complète était en place, incluant un régime fiscal repensé à l'échelle de l'empire afin de réglementer le commerce privé, un réseau de "facteurs impériaux" achetant des épices pour le compte du sultan dans les comptoirs d'outremer et un convoi annuel de galères transportant du Yémen aux marchés de l'Égypte et d'Istanbul des cargaisons de poivre appartenant à l'État. Grâce à tous ces éléments, de même qu'à leurs avantages géographiques naturels et à la disposition favorable des marchands musulmans dans l'océan Indien, les Ottomans purent présenter un défi de taille au "monopole sur le poivre" de l'Estado da India portugais.


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