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  • Hi, I’m John Green,

  • this is Crash Course World History,

  • and today were going to be discussing trade here,

  • in the Indian Ocean.

  • How’d my handwriting get so good?

  • Oh, my globe had a globe!

  • Were gonna do some new-school history where we talk about a system instead of talking

  • about individuals or some boring boring dynasty

  • no, Stan,

  • not that kind of Dynasty

  • yes, that kind of dynasty.

  • So many world history classes still focus on

  • People Who Wore Funny Hats,

  • and how their antics shaped our lives, right?

  • And while it’s interesting and fun to note that, like,

  • King Charles VI of France believed that he was made out of glass,

  • relentlessly focusing on the actions of the Funny Hatted who ruled us

  • makes us forget that we also make history.Mr. Green, Mr. Green!

  • Did Charles VI of France

  • really believe that he was made out of glass?

  • Yes, he did,

  • but today were talking about Indian Ocean trade and

  • it’s going to be interesting, I promise.

  • So pay attention.

  • ALSO,

  • NO HATS!

  • This is a classroom,

  • not a Truman Capote beach party.

  • [music intro]

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  • So Indian Ocean trade was like the Silk Road,

  • in that it was a network of trade routes that connected people who had stuff to people who

  • wanted it

  • and were willing to pay for it.

  • And just as the Silk Road was not a single road, there were lots of Indian Ocean trade

  • routes connecting various port cities around the Indian Ocean Basin, including Zanzibar

  • and Mogadishu and Hormuz and Canton.

  • By the way, before you criticize my pronunciation, please remember that mispronunciation is my

  • thing and I’ve been doing it since episode one, and nobody ever notices that it’s a

  • thing!

  • Sorry, I lost it there...

  • But Indian Ocean trade was bigger, richer, and featured more diverse players than the

  • Silk Road, but it is much less famous probably because it does not have a snazzy name.

  • What do you think, Stan?

  • Like theNeptunian Network”?

  • No.

  • The Wet Web”?

  • No, that’s definitely not it.

  • The Sexy Sea Lanes of South Asia”?

  • No, that’s too hard for me to say with my lisp...

  • THE MONSOON MARKETPLACE”!

  • Thanks, Danica.

  • And now the tyranny of dates:

  • By about 700 CE, there was a recognizable Monsoon Marketplace, but it really blew up

  • between 1000 CE and 1200.

  • It then declined a bit during the Pax Mongolica, when overland trade became cheap and safe,

  • because---

  • wait for it---

  • The Mongols.

  • But then the Indian Ocean trade surged again in the 14th and 15th centuries.

  • So who was trading? Swahili coast cities, Islamic empires in the Middle East, India,

  • China, Southeast Asia, and

  • NOT EUROPE,

  • which is probably one of the reasons that Monsoon Marketplace isn’t as famous as it

  • should be.

  • Let’s go to the Thought Bubble.

  • So if you live in China, and you need some ivory to make the handle for a sword, you

  • have to trade for it, because elephants only live in India and Africa.

  • One of the reasons Indian Ocean trade took off is that there were a wide range of resources

  • available and a wide range of import needsfrom ivory to timber to books to grain.

  • But the most important thing was the wind. The Indian Ocean is home to a set of very

  • special winds called Monsoons.

  • You generally hear about Monsoons in the context of rain in India, but rather than thinking

  • of Monsoons as the rain itself, think of them as the wind that bring a rainy season.

  • The great thing about seasons is that they come regularlyand so do the Monsoon winds.

  • So if you were a sailor, you could count on the wind to bring you from Africa to India

  • if you sailed between April and September, and one that would bring you back to Africa

  • if you sailed between November and February.

  • These winds were so predictable that early maritime travel guides often listed ideal

  • times of departure down to the week and sometimes the day.

  • Predictable winds make trade a lot less risky:

  • Like, back in the day when the only power for ships were sails and oarsmen, your cargo

  • might not arrive on time, or it might spoil, or you might die, all of which are bad for

  • the health of global economic trade.

  • But predictable winds meant lower risk, which meant cheaper trade, which meant more trade,

  • which meant more people could have awesome sword handles.

  • Thanks Thought Bubble.

  • Okay, there are a few more facets of Indian Ocean trade worth mentioning. First, Indian

  • Ocean trade incorporated many more people than participated in Silk Road trade.

  • There were Jewish people and people from Africa to Malaysia and India and China, all sailing

  • around and setting up trading communities where they would act as middle men, trying

  • to sell stuff for more than they bought it for and trying to find new stuff to buy that

  • they could sell later.

  • But despite this diversity, for the most part, especially on the Western half of the Indian

  • Ocean basin, the trade was dominated by Muslim merchants.

  • Why?

  • Largely because they had the money to build ships, although we will see that in the 15th

  • century the Chinese state could have changed that balance completely.

  • By the way,

  • I need to point out that when I say that the trade was dominated by Muslim merchants, the

  • emphasis should be on the merchants- not the Muslim or the dominated.

  • As previously noted,

  • we tend to think that states and governments and the funny-hatted people who rule them

  • are the real movers and shakers in history,

  • but that’s really not the case.

  • In the Indian Ocean,

  • the terms of trade were set by the merchants and by the demands of the market,

  • not by the whims of political rulers.

  • And the self-regulating nature of that trade was remarkable and pretty much unprecedented.

  • I mean, the most amazing thing, except for a few pirates, all of this trade was peaceful.

  • For the better part of seven hundred years these merchant ships were free to sail the

  • seas without the need for protection from any state’s navy.

  • This despite the fact that some pretty valuable crap was being traded. No, Bubble, I meant

  • that colloquially.

  • Alright, we need to do the open letter before Thought Bubble tries more puns.

  • [scoots]

  • Magic!

  • For today’s Open Letter, to further discuss the relationship between merchants and nobles,

  • were going to go inland to Kashmir where Kota Rani was the ruler until 1339. Mostly

  • I just love this story...

  • But first, let’s find out what’s in the Secret Compartment. Oh, it’s Blowouts. Stan,

  • are you asking me to make a diarrhea joke?

  • Because I’m above that. I will, however, give you a party blower solo:

  • Dear Kota Rani,

  • So, you had a pretty crazy life. When you were a kid you were kidnapped by a rival noble

  • who disguised his army as a bunch of merchants.

  • Than you were forced to marry your kidnapper who was the ruler of Kashmir, but, then he

  • died.

  • And then you became the ruler and you were really good at it and everything was going

  • awesome and you were lining things up for your sons, but then some dude comes in and

  • decides he’s going to marry you and forces you to do it by attacking you.

  • And so what do you do? Immediately after your second wedding you commit suicide by slicing

  • open your belly and offer your intestines to your horrible new husband as a wedding

  • present.

  • Oh, Stan.

  • I don’t want to say it but I have to;

  • That really took guts, Kota Rani!

  • Sorry...

  • And all this because your father welcomed an army into your house thinking they were

  • merchants.

  • Best wishes, John Green

  • So, right.

  • You wouldn’t let an army, or a rival noble, into your house, but everyone welcomes a merchant

  • and not just royalty.

  • The great thing about seaborne trade is that you can trade bulk goods like cotton cloth,

  • foodstuffs, and timber that’s all too heavy to strap onto a camel or mule.

  • So for the first time we see the beginnings of goods being traded for a mass market, instead

  • of just luxury goods, like silk for elites.

  • Wood, for instance,

  • can be used to build houses

  • but it’s not all that plentiful in the Arabian peninsula, however, when it becomes cheaper

  • thanks to trade, suddenly more people can have better houses.

  • Much of the timber that was shipped in the Monsoon Marketplace came from Africa, which

  • is kind of emblematic. Africa produced a lot of the raw materials like animal hides and

  • skin and ivory and gold.

  • The Swahili city states imported finished goods such as silk and porcelain from China

  • and cotton cloth from India. Spices and foodstuffs like rice were shipped from Southeast Asia

  • and especially Sri Lanka where black pepper was a primary export good, and the Islamic

  • world provided everything from coffee to books and weapons.

  • But it wasn’t just products that made their way around the eastern hemisphere thanks to

  • the Indian Ocean. Technology spread, too.

  • Like the magnetic compass, which is kind of crucial if you like to know where youre

  • going, came from China.

  • Muslim sailors popularized the astrolabe which made it easier to navigate by the stars.

  • Boats using stern-post rudders were easier to steer, so that technology quickly spread