12:54:31 PM May 12th 2013
Just removed a nattery Wall of Text with only peripheral relevance to the topic. Here it is, for reference.
12:54:40 PM May 12th 2013
- Worthless Yellow Rocks/Ridiculous Future Inflation: Believe it or not, this actually happened, and a good history of the Renaissance will tell you about it. In the 14th century, the King of Mali, en route to Mecca for pilgrimage, made the mistake of shopping at the Cairo souk while ignorant of the local prices; the merchants fleeced him and his entourage for every penny, leaving a shit-ton of gold in Egypt. This caused the price of gold in Egypt to plummet (a.ka. inflation), and when Italians sold their wares in Cairo, the prices they got were ridiculously good back home. This interacted with the Black Death—which caused massive deflation in Europe—to make gold pile up in the hands of artisans and merchants rather than nobles, which provided the financial impetus for the whole Renaissance. The whole continent of Africa would like to say to Europe, "You're f***ing welcome, jackasses."
- That's a gross oversimplification, and a fringe theory to boot. The economic underpinnings of the Renaissance were new developments in European commercial law providing standards that would be followed in (more or less) the whole continent, the establishment of competitive European industries (such as Florentine cloth sold to the east, or Venetian silk produced in Italy sold to other Europeans), the commercial domination of the Eastern Mediterranean for centuries by Venice and Genoa (after the sack of Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204), the establishment of banking institutions (previously forbidden for much of the middle ages by the church), the development of modern accounting (double-entry bookkeeping started in Italy), and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of merchants and bankers, as opposed to just kings, nobles and the church. A dose of gold from Mali (or the effects thereof) would have been spent quickly enough, and would not have been sufficient to fuel or even significantly contribute to a 300-year long cultural flourishing.