The History of International Trade

International Trade history: events, documents, sources, inventions, etc. Special Thanks to Rafael Arteaga (, feel free to suggest inputs: @VEJAR_C

This timeline features the most relevant historical events related to trade (with particular emphasis on international trade): establishment of relevant international organizations, enactment of treaties, events, discoveries, instruments, etc., which have all shaped in a significant manner the way we trade. In preparing this timeline, different doctrinal sources, direct reference to trade, and investment legal instruments were consulted.

0000-12-06 04:25:41

The Romans gain control of Syria and Palestine

The Romans gain control of Syria and Palestine, the natural terminus of the Silk Road, for goods can move west more easily from here by sea.

0106 BC-12-06 04:25:41

The Silk Road

The Silk Road was opened. For the first time, a caravan leaves China and travels through to Persia without the goods changing hands on the way.

0200 BC-12-06 04:25:41

Ptolemaic Greek Commerce

After 200 B.C. Ptolemaic Greek merchants gradually extended their trading activities eastward toward India.

0300 BC-10-29 17:04:50

Foundation of Antioch

Seleucus founds another city at the northeast tip of the Mediterranean; he calls it Antioch, Its port, at the mouth of the river, is also named Seleucia.

0300 BC-12-06 04:25:41

Trade in the Gulf of Aqaba

An Arab tribe, the Nabataeans, displaces the Edomites. They soon come into conflict with new neighbors in Mesopotamia, the Seleucid Greeks, who have an interest in diverting trade from the Gulf of Aqaba.

0305 BC-10-29 17:04:50

Foundation of Seleucia

Seleucus founds a city called Seleucia as the capital of his empire; it was perfectly placed for trade, at the point where a canal from the Euphrates links with the Tigris.

0336 BC-10-29 17:04:50

Alexander the Great and Trade

Alexander the Great extent the Macedonian empire from Greece and Egypt to India, forcing the integration of the empire, including trade relations.

0384 BC-10-29 17:04:50

Aristotle described commerce

Aristotle described benefit and rationale of commerce as an exchange of what each had plenty to get what everyone is missing.

0395-12-06 04:25:41

Byzantium establishes a currency

Byzantium was one of the major trading centers of the world, establishing a currency that circulated throughout the Mediterranean.

0507 BC-08-05 06:43:13

Ius Gentium arose in Rome

In the Roman Republic arose Ius Gentium to regulate the acts of the non-roman citizens, including trade.

0600 BC-08-05 06:43:13

Completion of the Ancient Suez Canal

Darius I completed the ancient Suez Canal begun by Necho II, It linked the Nile to the Red Sea and facilitated trade.

0610-08-05 06:43:13

Islam founded

Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, united Arabia into a single Muslim polity and ensured that his teachings, practices, and the Quran, formed the basis of Islamic religious belief. After his childhood Muhammad primarily worked as a merchant. Islamic traders and its teachings of the Quran marked many of the customs related to trade exchanges in their time. (many other relegions have impacted trade too, but the contributions of islamic traders for shaping the world seems far more relevant).

0660-08-05 06:43:13

Foundation of Byzantium

Around 660 B.C. Greek Colonist from Megara founded Byzantium and Chalcedon.

0675 BC-12-06 04:25:41

Athenians Patrol the Black Sea

In order to secure its trading routes, the greatly enlarged Athenian navy began patrolling the Black Sea.

0700-12-06 04:25:41

Vikings and Varangians Trade

Vikings and Varangians Trade; they sailed from, and to, Scandinavia. The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks was a trade route that connected Scandinavia, Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire. The route allowed traders along the route to establish a direct prosperous trade with Byzantium, and prompted some of them to settle in the territories of present-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

0700-12-31 17:57:17

The Islamic Golden Age.

Although the Muslim commercial web possessed many advanced features, including bills of exchange, sophisticated lending institutions, and futures markets, no Islamic state ever established the bedrock financial institution of modern world: a national or central bank.

0750 BC-03-31 23:27:44

Growth of Greek Commerce

Greek Commerce due its origin to Phoenicians. They never got to be as good sailors as the phoenicians, but they understood in a better way the moral and social influence of traffic.

0750 BC-08-05 06:43:13

Tiglath-Pileser III

Tiglath-Pileser III attacks Gaza in order to control trade along the Incense Route

0910-02-02 21:26:59

Abbasid Caliphate

The Abbasids ruled the Middle East, incluiding trade.

1000 BC-01-17 03:10:15

The substitution of donkeys

Caravans of camels are bringing precious goods up the west coast of Arabia, linking India with Egypt, Phoenicia and Mesopotamia.

1001-12-06 04:25:41

Venice's spices trade

Venice expanded its rule due to trade of spices and silk from Constantinople.

11698 BC-10-29 17:04:50

Camel Domestication

Camel domestication served Arab nomads in the commercial long way trade travels of spices and silk from Far East.

1187-11-17 20:43:17

Kurd Saladin conquest Jerusalem.

Kurd Saladin conquest Jerusalem, acquiring the power to regulate commerce.

1200-11-17 20:43:17

Italian merchants

Italian merchants became the world’s most prosperous slave traders, buying humans on the eastern shores of the Black Sea and selling them in Egypt and the Levant. Long distance trade in the medieval period thus revolved around three stories: the spice trade, the slave trade and the age-old struggle for mastery the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.

1200-11-17 20:43:17

Monopoly of Trade in China

Persian and Arab traders had more or less monopolized trade in China.

1202-11-17 20:43:17

Doge Enrico Dandolo sabotaged the Fourth Crusade

Doge Enrico Dandolo sabotaged the Fourth Crusade; He saw it as a threat to Venice´s spice trade with Egypt, and led the sacking of Constantinople.

1258-11-17 20:43:17

Siege of Baghdad.

Baghdad was capture and sack by the Mongols who had intended to further extend his rule into Mesopotamia.

1271-11-17 20:43:17

Marco Polo begins it's Travel

Marco Polo begins a travel with his father and uncle on the Silk route to China.

1291-06-07 11:03:23

Collapse of the the Bosphorus-Black Sea slave route

Just as quickly as the demand for the Bosphorus-Black Sea slave route arose, it collapsed with the dissolution of the Ilkhan Mongol threat and the fall of Acre and Tyre.

1300-01-23 17:09:59

World’s most sought-after commodities.

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Mace and Cloves were the world’s most sought-after commodities.

1300-08-24 02:14:51

Medieval Malacca, The point of Contact

Medieval Malacca connected India, the Arab world and Europe to its west with China and the Spice Islands.

1347-06-07 11:03:23

The Black Death arrived to Europe

The Black Death arrived to Europe by sea when 12 Genoese trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea.

1358-06-07 11:03:23

The Hanseatic League was established

The Hanseatic League was established. It was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns that dominated Baltic maritime trade along the coast of Northern Europe (1400-1800).

1400-06-07 11:03:23

Creation of the Caravel

Portuguese developed caravel to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. It made the spice trade possible.

1405-10-05 00:37:00

Zheng He´s expeditions

Zheng He´s seven massive expeditions into the Indian Ocean produced an important commercial Exchange.

1415-10-05 00:37:00

Conquest of Ceuta

Conquest of Ceuta by John I of Portugal. Possession of Ceuta would indirectly lead to further Portuguese expansion. Portugal create school of Navigation.

1444-10-05 00:37:00

Creating new routes. Infante Dom Henrique

Infante Dom Henrique realized a trans-Saharan route to the Indies. After he sponsored the fifteenth century Portuguese exploration of the African coast.

1445-10-05 00:37:00

East India Co. and India

East India Co. rules India as an enterprise.

1453-10-05 00:37:00

The Ottomans took Constantinople

The Ottomans took Constantinople and shut off all the trade with the Christians.

1487-10-05 00:37:00

Pedro da Colvilha's journey

The Portuguese monarch King John II sent Pedro da Covilha out on a dangerous overland journey to India. Disguised as an Arab, Covilha gathered vital information on the ports of the east African and Indian coasts during his three-year journey.

1487-10-05 00:37:00

Bartholomew Diaz set off on the voyage that finally reached the southern tip of Africa.

Bartholomew Diaz set off on the voyage that finally reached the southern tip of Africa. By rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Diaz proved that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were not landlocked, as many European geographers of the time thought, and revived the idea that a sea route to India might indeed be feasible.

1490-10-05 00:37:00

Ibn Majid wrote “Book of Useful Information on the Principles and Rules of Navigation"

Ibn Majid wrote “Book of Useful Information on the Principles and Rules of Navigation”, considered to be his most important work, is a navigation encyclopedia, describing the history and basic principles of navigation, lunar mansions, the difference between coastal and open-sea sailing, the locations of ports from East Africa to Indonesia, star positions, accounts of the monsoon and other seasonal winds, typhoons and other topics for professional navigators. World Commerce would ever been the same.

1492-10-12 00:37:00

Discovery of America

Cristopher Columbus became the first Christian European to make landfall in the Americas in his quest to find new commercial routes to Orient.

1494-08-24 02:14:51

Tordesillas Treaty

Isabel and Fernando, kings of Castilla and Aragon, and John II of Portugal signed the Tordesillas Treaty, by which they distributed the cruising areas and conquer of Atlantic Ocean and The New World.

1497-08-24 02:14:51

Vasco da Gamma's journey

Vasco da Gamma set off on the voyage that finally arrive to India and trade with spices.

1500 BC-07-02 00:12:17

Donkey, the ancient packing animal

Until about 1500 B.C. Donkey had been the pack animal of choice.

1500-03-23 21:53:58

Pedro Alvares Cabral Expedition to Brazil

Pedro Alvares Cabral departed with 13 ships and approximately 1500 men to America (Brazil).

1500-08-24 02:14:51

Atlantic Slave Trade in Africa

The Atlantic slave trade or transatlantic slave trade took place across the Atlantic Ocean from the 15th through to the 19th centuries. The vast majority of those enslaved that were transported to the New World, many on the triangular trade route and its Middle Passage, were West Africans from the central and western parts of the continent sold by other western Africans to western European slave traders, with a small minority being captured directly by the slave traders in coastal raids, and brought to the Americas.The numbers were so great that Africans who came by way of the slave trade became the most numerous Old World immigrants in both North and South America before the late 18th century.The remnants are still visible today in dozens of forts and castles built by Europeans.

1500-08-24 02:14:51

Portugal Trade Empire

Alfonso de Albuquerque built Portugal´s Empire, including commerce, in the Indian Ocean and seized the critical checkpoints at Malacca and Hormuz.

1500-08-24 02:14:51

Ming Dynasty economy

Ming Dynasty economy growth due to commerce with Portugal, Spain and Dutch.

The History of International Trade

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