Julfan_Agreements_with_European_East_Ind

Julfan_Agreements_with_European_East_Ind - Sebouh D avid...

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Sebo uh D avi d As l anian University of California, Los Angeles Julf an Merchants and European East Indi a Companies : Overla nd T r ade , Protection Costs, and th e Limits of Collective Se lf-Representation in Earl y Modern Saf a vid Iran * During the Ottoman-Safavid wars of 1603-1605, the Safavid rul er Shah ' Abbas I deported Armenian silk merchants from the frontier town of Julfa on the Aras River and resettled them on the outskirts of his new imperial capital of Isfahan where the deportees fo unded a mercantile suburb named New julfa, in memory of their evacuated town. Shortly after their deportation, these merchants accomplished a remar ka ble feat by coming to preside over one of the greatest trade networks of the early modern period with settlements stretching from London, Cadiz, and Amsterdam in the West to Mug hal India, Canton (China), and Manila (the Philippines) in the East. The study of julfan history is a relatively new fiel d, and we are only now beginning to understand the complexities of the rich history cr eat ed by Armenians from this township. Much of the work in this fie l d, exemplified by the contributions of Levon and Sushanik Khachikian and Edm u nd Herzig, has focused on the economic facets of the township's history. 1 My own book on Julfa has *Earlier versions of this paper were presented at a international conference on "Armenia and Armenians in International Treaties," March 20, 2009, University of Michigan and at the 4th Berg International Conference, "In- Between: Trade and Legal Pluralism in the Era of the Geniza," Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, May 29 -31'\ 2013. I would like to acknowledge the organizers of these conferences, especially Gerard Libaridian, for
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Sebouh Aslanian 190 sought to illuminate the economic and social institutions that helped sustain the global trade networks of the Julfan community. 2 Emphasis on Julfa’s economic history is in part a reflection of the vast amounts of commercial documents written by Julfans that have remarkably survived in dozens of archives around the world. In contrast to the wealth of documentation on the commercial interaction of Julfans with other members of their own community, documentation on their diplomatic and political interactions with sovereign states and their representative bodies has been relatively lacking. The result is that we know considerably less about Julfan interactions with outsiders in the early modern period than intra-Julfan commercial interactions. 3 Inspired by earlier work by Ronald Ferrier and Edmund Herzig, this paper examines a series of trade agreements signed between Julfan merchants and foreign states and/or their chartered East India companies mostly but not exclusively during the second half of the seventeenth century. 4 The essay focuses encouragement while writing this piece, and Houri Berberian, Olivier Raveux, and Afshin Matin-Asgari for comments on an earlier draft of this essay.
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