3

CONFLICTS FOR AN EMPIRE

Prefigurations

Even before the expression colonial empire existed, the city republics of the end of the Middle Ages did, in a real sense, possess one. It had strong points, it had the characteristics of modern capitalism, and all this well before the Great Discoveries. With regard to Genoa and Venice, Fernand Braudel has spoken of “European expansion” taking place as early as from the twelfth century. It was an enterprise realized by the new towns and cities. These aggressive little entities were oriented towards external trade and no longer lived in an exclusive relationship with the countryside around them.

Henceforth with economic life gaining the ascendancy over the agrarian, these clusters of city-states very quickly constituted two groups: the North and the South, Italy and the Netherlands, linked by trade routes which had their junction in Champagne. These two clusters complemented each other and competed with each other. But the North had the forests as its border and the South the treasures of Byzantium and the Arab world. Commercially stronger than the North as a result, it was the cities of the South, particularly Venice and Genoa, which at least for three centuries prevailed over this first micro world-economy with its boundaries marked by Lisbon, Fez, Damascus, Azov, in addition to Bruges and the Hanseatic League. After the elimination of Amalfi and Pisa, these two Italian cities owned trading outposts and possessions abroad, from the Barbary coast up to Caffa on the Black Sea. It was like a Portuguese empire before its time, but confined to the interior of the Mediterranean. During the time of the Crusades Venice came close to occupying the Byzantine Empire, but Genoa restored the Paleologue dynasty. Which of the two would prevail? Neither. For, divided amongst themselves, they came up against a wall: Islam, strongly entrenched in the Levant which, as early as 1282, the Vivaldis, from Genoa, had attempted to bypass by means of expeditions round Africa. Their enterprises failed because they were too large for such small states. But the idea lived on.

Portugal inherited it when the capture of Ceuta in 1415 set it on the

-52-

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Colonization: A Global History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Colonization or Imperialism 1
  • 2 - The Initiatives 24
  • 3 - Conflicts for an Empire 52
  • 4 - A New Race of Societies 104
  • 5 - Rose-Coloured Legend and Pitch-Black Legend 163
  • 6 - The Vision of the Vanquished 186
  • 7 - The Movements for Colonist-Independence 211
  • 8 - Leaven and Levers 239
  • 9 - Independence or Revolution 262
  • 10 - Liberation or Decolonization 305
  • 11 - Decolonization Halted 344
  • Chronology 361
  • Filmographic Selection 370
  • Bibliography 376
  • Index 390
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