Merchants, Pirates and Crusaders in the Medieval Mediterranean

The Mediterranean in the Middle Ages was a melting pot of different cultures and religions who fought against one another, but also traded across its waters, exchanging goods and ideas from around the world. For Latin Christians the papacy was the preeminent spiritual power in Europe and the Mediterranean: it launched crusades against its Muslim opponents (and others), in order to expand Christendom and secure the Holy Land. Yet, many Latin Christians, especially merchants from the great maritime cities of Venice, Genoa and Barcelona, accrued huge wealth from trading with the Islamic Levant, the goods from which were highly valued in western Europe. This lecture will explore this supposed contradiction by looking at how religion and trade influenced one another in a time of holy warfare and long-distance trade. Piracy, economic warfare, smuggling and religious zeal all infused to create a region and period of violence and instability, yet also opportunity, vibrancy and surprising modernity.

Speaker Bio

Mike Carr is a lecturer in Late Medieval History at the University of Edinburgh. He has written and edited several books on the medieval Mediterranean, the crusades and medieval trade, and has made a number of media appearances, such as for BCC Radio 4’s In Our Time

Curated and Hosted by

Dr. Amy Hale is an Atlanta-based anthropologist and folklorist writing about esoteric history, art, culture, women and Cornwall in various combinations. Her biography of Ithell Colquhoun, Genius of the Fern Loved Gully, is available from Strange Attractor Press, and she is also the editor of the forthcoming collection Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses from Palgrave Macmillan. Other writings can be found at her Medium site and her website

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Christian and Muslim merchants shipping contraband in the medieval Mediterranean, from the Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis of Marino Sanudo Torsello, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat. 2972C, 11v.