[Sca-cooks] Any more info on these Radanites?
t.d.decker at att.net
Sun Jun 3 17:50:23 PDT 2012
> Do you have any more information or references about them, that I might
> pass on in the Florilegium?
Fischel, Walter J., "The Jewish Merchants, Called Radanites," The Jewish
Quarterly Review, Vol. 42, No. 3, January 1952, pp. 321-325.
Rabinowitz, Lewis, Jewish Merchant Adveturers, A Study of the Radan'ies;
The Radanites were a rather shadowy bunch who appear to have replaced Roman
traders around the time the Western Empire vanished. In replacing the
Romans, they took over much of the spice trade and became the primary spice
traders of the early Medieval Period. There is some evidence that they were
based in France, but I've also seen a case made for Balkan origin. They may
have been a clan or a company of merchant adventurers or it may be just a
general name for individuals involved in what became a global trade network.
What we know is they were Jewish and they were traders.
The primary reference of their existence is ibn Khordadbeh's "Kitab
al-Masalik wal-Mamalik," from the late 9th Century. Ibn Khordadbeh
described four of the Radanite trade routes that began in the Rhone Valley
and ended in China. In the East, they were involved primarily with the
Khazars and the Tang Dynasty in China. They used letters of credit and
likely represent one of the earliest international banking systems. They
may also have been the primary force in introducing papermaking and
Hindu-Arabic numerals to the West.
The Radanite trade declined in the 10th Century beginning with the fall of
the Tang Dynasty early in the century and the fall of the Khazar Khaganate
to the Russians around mid-century. Combined with the western migration of
the Turkic tribes, these events disrupted trade from Central Asia to Eastern
Europe. For a time, they competed with the rising Italian city states, but
the loss of their Chinese trade and the growing Islamic control of the spice
trade crippled them. The last reference to Radanite trade appears to be
from the early 12th Century.
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