google79f3d4a96bd13f7b.html Why were medieval Europeans so obsessed with Banda spices? - Nature and Culture

Why were medieval Europeans so obsessed with Banda spices?

The influence of the development of civilization in Europe affects the consumption of spices

The caliphate camel group crossing the desert

Why were medieval Europeans so obsessed with spices?

At that time, spices could only be grown and produced in mainland Asia, especially the Banda-Naira Islands. Due to international trade, spices then spread widely in Asia. In the next phase, the culture and use of spices was absorbed by Indian, Chinese, Malay and Arab civilizations. For centuries these peoples were very familiar with the use of spices. The use of spices at that time was not only as a cooking spice but more importantly as a medicinal ingredient.

How did Europeans recognize the culture of using spices?

It is said that European soldiers who were involved in the crusade in the Arabian peninsula came into contact with Arab culture. At that time the culture of using spices was commonly applied in their daily lives. When the war was over, the surviving crusaders brought the spice culture back to Europe. Cultural influences from the east continued to grow in Europe and influenced the consumption of spices in the following centuries.

The emergence of Renaissance ideology brought the development of science, art, culture, and technology, as well as mercantilism which encouraged individuals to compete to accumulate wealth in the form of gold. The two ideologies above will later contribute to an increase in the number of new rich people in Europe.

The rich are motivated to conduct foreign trade and produce goods favored by foreign buyers. On the other hand, the rich, corporations and joint ventures are encouraged to explore the oceans to discover new continents.

Initially they carried out ordinary trade but later developed into mastering the economic potential of a new continent that was profitable for European trade.

As said earlier, the consumption of spices was known through crusaders returning from wars in the east. During the war, the soldiers came into contact with eastern culture including the processing and use of spices for cooking and as medicine.

It turns out that the aroma and taste of spices as spices in cooking can be accepted by the European tongue. The exotic aroma of the cinnamon spice mixture in food adds flavor, turmeric and other spices make dishes look attractive and taste delicious. . spicy and hot ginger, pepper, cloves, and nutmeg in drinks can make them through the winter more comfortably.

Another benefit of spices that they feel is as a medicine, which can overcome digestive complaints with the warm effect of spices.

After all, spices are applied in various needs, in households, from kitchens to bedrooms, the use of spices is found. 
In medieval times spices were used everywhere, from churches to brothels using the spices' aroma to remove unpleasant odors in the room.
In cosmetics, the spices used range from perfume to air freshener, frankincense, sandalwood, and mastic and agarwood.

Europeans became accustomed to the use of spices and the influence of spices became wider and the demand for spices became high. Since spices do not grow well in Europe, consumers rely on supplies from tropical countries. As a result, European consumers have to pay a lot of money to get the spices they need.

The spice trade from the east with a very long and long supply line, it is estimated that the route is around 15,000 KM.
Silk Route 16 Century Image:

From the east, take the Banda island route - Batavia port - Malacca - Cylon - enter Aden - Berenike - continue to Alexandria - Tire - Antioch - Constantinople/Mediterranean - to Europe. At that time, Egypt and Italy controlled the trade route by levying taxes.

The condition of the scarcity of spices makes rich people and trading partners think of looking for spices from their country of origin. The race to find a new continent began, initiated by Vasco Da Gama who managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean to the Malabar coast, India. It's became the motivation of other explorers.

From the Malabar Coast of India, European ships spearheaded by Portuguese sailors sailed further East towards Southeast Asia, Malacca. From Malacca then enter the waters of the Moluccas to the other Maluku islands. The first route to the Banda-Neira archipelago was opened by Francisco Serrao.1512 who managed to reach the island of Banda.

The entry of the Portuguese to the island of Banda was followed by Spanish, British, and Dutch explorers. 

When the spice trade reached its peak around the 1500 - 1600s, almost all the world's traders came crammed into the shores of Banda Island.

They came all the way and aims to make big profits by buying spices from the source at low prices.

As an illustration, the price of a kilo of pepper from first hands in the Port of Banda worth 1 or 2 Ducats (Ducats calculation based on grams of gold or silver), will rise to 10 to 14 Ducats in the port of Alexandria and the price can be from 14 to 18 ducats in the port of Venice. Upon arrival in Europe consumers, there have to pay between 20 – 30 Ducats. 

How great was the value of spices at that time that the Dutch were willing to exchange Manhattan, New York for the island of Run in Maluku, at that time the island of Run was controlled by the British. Run Island is included in the Banda Neira island group, which consists of Naira Island, Banda Besar Island, Ai Island, Gunung Api Island, and Hatta Island.

The barter agreement called the Treaty of Breda took place and was signed on July 31, 1667, not without reason the Dutch wanted to control the island of Run and its surroundings. The Dutch kept an obsession with holding complete control over the spice trade there. Later Britain was no longer free to trade there, causing a dispute, after 5 years of surviving the war between the two ended the agreement.

The beginning of the decline of spices price in the world market

The first period of the fall of spices price was when Vasco da Gama found a sea route to India. Calicut Harbor on the Malabar coast. The place for the spice trade before being transported by Arab traders to the route to Europe.

Second Period After the Portuguese managed to find a sea route to the Banda Naira archipelago which was then followed by Spain, England, and the Netherlands, the route to Banda Naira began to be widely known. and become common knowledge.

In addition, when the United States trade fleet began to enter the world's spice industry in the 18th century, American entrepreneurs began to encourage their own spice companies to trade directly with farmers in Asia. The more the new rich people in America, the more they enter the spices race.

In that century Americans made new contributions to the spice world, namely in the manufacture of chili powder by the Texan settlers and the development of techniques for drying onions and garlic.

As spices became more common, their value began to fall. Trade routes were wide open, people had found ways to cultivate spices from other parts of the world, and rich monopolies were beginning to crumble.

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