ABSTRACT

This chapter discusses the web of routes between Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, and on the economic factors which shaped these routes, only during the period of the Pegolotti route but also in the period before and in that to the end of the Middle Ages. Population growth in the countryside was spurred especially by an agricultural surplus, itself facilitated by changes in technology such as ironworking and the consequent use of metal ploughs and the employment of water and windmills. Silver, in the form both of coin and of bullion, was exported to the Aegean and Middle East essentially to pay for an imbalance of trade between those regions and western Europe. Constitutional changes which brought into being a large council, the Maggior Consiglio, as the Republic’s executive and legislative body, made the construction of a new Ducal Palace essential.