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Trade. International economic and trade relations in 16th century Azerbaijan

In 16th century, Azerbaijan conducted trade with Russia, European and Asian countries. Major place in trade belonged to raw silk, which was produced from profusion. Main centres of silkworm breeding were Aresh, Shamakha, Ganja and Culfa. There were exported clothes, carpets, dry fruits, oil, salt, saffroon, rice, coloured items, gun and other goods from Azerbaijan to Russia and other countries too. The cities of Azerbaijan were visited by many Eastern and European merchants- Persians, Indians, Turks, Arabs, Uzbeks, Russians, Georgians, Venesians, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, Englishmen and so on. They brought silk and cotton clothes, golden and silver clothes, jewellry, spicies from their countries. Generally, the major item that was imported from India to Azerbaijan was highly qualified steel. There were imported copper, fur, wool clothes, gold, axes, wooden dish and etc. from Russia. Raw silk, which was produced in Azerbaijan, was widely utilized in Medieval Europe.

In 16th century, the shortest and widely exploited caravan road passed from Tabriz to the direction of Heleb, through Marand-Khoy- Khilat-Bitlis. The road, passing from Tabriz to the direction of Erzurum and Erzincan preserved its essence.

Venesia tried to extend the activity of its trade agents in the East, escaping from the unprofitable economic mediation with Eastern merchants. But its attempt did not achieve any success. Venesians, who stayed in Heleb exchanged their velvet with Easter, as well as Azerbaijan goods: raw-silk, wool, oak nut, oil, saffroon, leather, cotton, species. But the major point of international trade continued to be Azerbaijan silk and Azerbaijan merchants played an important role in this trade with Europe. Therefore, especially Culfa merchants brought raw silk from Shamakha to Heleb. They bought from Venesians namely, gold-clothed silk. In the beginning of the 16th century, there was imported copper, perfume and cheese from the East to Tabriz.

The essence of caravan ways, passing through Azerbaijan and tied Europe and East in the 16th century was great. International caravan ways, which began from India and China and passed through Azerbaijan, the cities of Mediterranian and Black Seas stretched to Europe. Volga-Caspian marine way also related Azerbaijan and Iran with Europe. Portugal and Spain, which led over the Indian ocean, captured major trade points of Persian Gulf as well. India species, exported to Europe through Azerbaijan, became under the control of Portugal merchants and seamen. Other European countries, especially England did its best to lead in the East and manage the raw materials and trade markets. They were especially interested in Azerbaijan silk at that period.

Safavids Shahs also did their best to set relations with European countries, which were the major customers of Azerbaijan silk. Tabriz was the biggest trade city of Azerbaijan at that time. There were imported/ wheat, raw silk, small horned cattle, various craft items from other regions to Tabriz. During the creation of internal market, Tabriz turned into the most essential economic centre. Safavids-Ottoman wars inflicted great damage to the life of the city. But, Tabriz again became the important economic centre of the state in 17th century. Evliya Chelebi informed about the presence of 700 shops, about 200 caravanserais and approximately 70 guest-homes. And Sharden wrote about the location of 15 thousand shops and the most famous bazaar of the East in Tabriz.

The profusion of raw silk in the circult of Shamakha increased the economic essence of the city. As in Tabriz, there was located big market in Shamakha. Although the wars of the 16th century, inflicted damage to the economy of the city, but they could not prevent the further development of the city. According to the source, there were annually sold 100 thousand pood silkworm in Shamakha. Adam Oleary mentioned about big trade centre, which was located in the city. There were existed shops, filled by various goods in the markets of the city.

Such goods, as silk, clothes, made with gold and silver, bow and axes were demanded a lot. There were many caravaseraies in Shamakha.Foreign merchants conducted whole sale trade in these caravanserais.

The role of the city of Ardebil, which possessed special status was big in the trade-economic life of the country. The city was located on the trade way, which united Southern and Northern regions of the country. Ardebil merchants conducted trade with many countries of the world. There were constructed big shops in both sides of bazaars square. The trade centres of the city were caravanserais. There was located squared bazaar in the city that called Keysariyye, which Adam Oleary called “trade exchange”. The traveler mentioned about Chinese merchant who sold dish, along with Turkish, tatarian and Indian merchants.

In the 16th century, the major role on trade relations belonged to caravanserais. Caravanserais were constructed on trade ways along with cities. One of the most famous caravanserais was the caravanserai that was located in Beshbarmaq, on the way of Shamakha – Derbend. Adam Oleary, who stayed in Beshbarmaq caravanserai wrote: “This caravanserai is very ancient construction and it built from squared stones. Squared and the length of each stone equals to 42 steps”.

In 16th century, at the beginning of growth of internal and foreign trade there was shaped internal market. The economic essence of cities increased. There were created economic ties among cities and villages, trade that was conducted in cities per week gave continuable and systematic character to these ties.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"