The awakening of the Christian West  in trade, industry and farming in the Middle Ages highlights and confirms many crucial points made previously:

 First, the impact of the 12th century translations in the awakening of such activities is inexistent, or shallow at best, which proves that the generally held theory in Western history that the 12th century renaissance of the Christian West  owes to the translations of Greek  science  is ridiculous.

Second, the changes in these areas highlight, once more, that all changes that took place in the Christian West  at the time were not due to fortuitous conditions, or to local factors, or to the recovery of lost heritage, but form part of a larger ensemble of changes, that affected each and every area of learning, science, economy, art, culture, and civilisation as a whole.

Third, as this chapter will confirm, these transformations, just  as every other transformation that took place in the 12th-13th century, did so only once contact with Islam was made, and bears obvious Islamic resemblance.

Fourth, this chapter also confirms previously observed patterns that it was principally the parts of Western Christendom  that had contacts with Islam that were first transformed in the particular fields they were in contact with Islam. This is most particularly relevant to the Italian cities, which were the most important traders with Islam, and which, by some coincidence, once more, were the first in Western Christendom to show major transformations in industrial crafts, techniques, and also trade mechanisms and banking.


Earlier Islamic Coins


The Pirenne Theory
In the early 1930s, Pirenne held in his Muhammad and Charlemagne that the advance of Islam led to the collapse of economic activity around the Mediterranean, thus driving Europe into the dark ages. In more detail, he said:
`European civilisation formed around the Mediterranean by the successive work of Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia, Greece and Rome. The latter, the last worker of an admirable work, has gathered in one single state all the people it was the inheritor.

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The Islamic Fundamentals of Trade
Basing himself on a diversity of sources, Cahen writes:
`Let us first rid ourselves of an idea that Pirenne himself seem to have had, namely, that Arabs and Islam are marked by a kind of native impotence in economics and trade.

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The Italian Role
Abu Lughod points out how during the so-called Dark Ages of Europe, the Italian ports never lost their continuity nor their connections with the East. The Italian port towns of Genoa and Venice, in particular, maintained an intense trade with Anatolia as well as with the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and North Africa, and because of that were able to learn from their eastern counterparts many of the institutional arrangements that facilitated long distance and cross-societal trade.

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