Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Economics of Outremer

Acre is an extremely rich little nation, based on trade - it is the southern termius of the Silk Road, and revenues are enormous. It is also a pre-industrial economy, based on weapons manufacture, but branching out into many other mechanical devices. This manufacturing is small, craft-based work, not factories, but the basis is there for expansion. The close ties of Acre with Damascus make the two very similar, though Acre imports most of its food, unlike Damascus.

Antioch is the lesser, northern terminus of the Silk Road, and its economy depends on trade. It also exports much food, as the Orontes Valley is very fertile and well-watered.

Aqaba owns the Hajj pilgrimage route, as well as the lucrative Red Sea trade of incense, gold, coffee, and slaves. Its merchants sail all over the Indian Ocean, bringing spices and riches into the ports. it mines some copper, and the distilleries export Arak, mostly to Christian countries.

Armenia is in a perpetual cycle of war with the Turks. It is more than self-supporting agriculturally, but buys a good deal of weaponry from Acre and Cyprus.

Ascalon is a Trade-and-Agriculture economy, bouyed by the adoption of radically new agricultural techniques by the orders, led by the Hospitalers. It cannot possibly feed itself, with its huge cities and tiny land area, so instead it produces valuable crops for export, like cotton, linen, dye-stuffs, liquors, and other luxuries, exports them, and uses the profits to import bulk food.

Cyprus is the other pre-industrial state in Outremer. It also has focused on weapons, which - along with glass-blowing and copper - make up the bulk of its exports. The farms are rich but primitive, and land use is far from optimal.

Damascus is the Muslim partner of Acre, and they share many similarities, though Damascus' large fertile land area allows it to be self-sufficient in food production even though large areas are semi-desert. Weaving of wool and cotton are important parts of its economy, along with trade and weapons production.

*Galilee is the prime agricultural area of Damascus. Much of its food is grown here, and exported to Acre or sent to the capital.

Edessa is famous for horses, which are bred for various tasks, from chargers to hill ponies. European breeds are crossed with Outremer's native Arabians, Barbs, and Turcomans to create new breeds optimized for climate, disease resistance, and task. The horses are exported overland to every nation except Rhodes and Cyprus, which go through Alexandrette and Armenia.

Homs exports specialized cloth - especially for harem-wear - and fruit and nuts. Pistachios and almonds are big export items throughout Outremer, along with the hardier fruits. Soft fruits like melons and grapes are consumed internally.

Jerusalem's only export is wool cloth, but it is a prime pilgrimage site, the third holiest city in Islam, and the holiest city in both Judaism and Christianity. The Muslim royal family keep hands off on religion, but tax the pilgrims, raking in a fortune. The city is full of churches, mosques, and yeshivot, and there are dozens of other sites like the Mount of Olives and the Via Dolorosa which are musts on every pilgrim's list, along with nearby Bethlehem.

*Caeserea is the port of Jerusalem, both the city of Caesarea and Arsuf to the south being busy ports. Nazareth is a major pilgrimage site on its own, and most Christians and Jews come through Caesarea on their waty to the Holy City. It is also the prime port for transhipping both cargo and Hajj pilgrims to Aqaba and the Red Sea, most importantly to Mecca and Medina.

*Moab is the Hajj gateway to Aqaba. Everything and everyone destined for the Red Sea comes through Moab on its way, and the Principality takes it's share of the tolls. It is a dry and treeless plateau, but fertile when irrigated, and after the winter rains. Balsam and salt are exported.

*Transjordan is the gateway to Baghdad and many overland caravans, coming from the north and east. The land is reasonably fertile, especially after the winter rains, and the land is sef-sufficient in food. Wool is its only export of note.

Rhodes itself exports wine and olive oil, but it is as trans-shipper for goods moving between Constantinople, Outremer, and Europe that the nation makes its living. The big, powerful Rhodian Navy keeps pirates at bay, and the route through Rhodes clear and profitable. Escorted convoys routed through Rhodes are slower than going it alone, but far, far safer. Only the Templar and Hospitaler ships from Ascalon compete using the southern route, and they escort only their own ships.

Tripoli trans-ships wines, liquors, and foodstuffs throughout the Outremer, serving as the port of preference for Homs and Aleppo. There is little to no manufacturing or mining here, and the county has little which is exportable on its own. The hinterland is productive but small, hemmed in as it is between mountains and sea.


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