Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/538

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rapid progress, while others failed to regain the prosperity they had enjoyed before the Black Death, or sank into deeper and deeper decay. The most obvious and important commercial result of the Wars in France was seen in the diversion of the traffic between Italy and Flanders from the Rhone valley, so as to increase the intercourse over the Alps and by the valley of the Inn. Augsburg, Nürnberg, and the cities of the Rhine-land came to be for a time on the great highway of Europe; while there was also increased maritime communication between the Mediterranean and the Low Countries by the Straits of Gibraltar and the English Channel.

Other political causes affected the more distant trading connexions of European cities. The union of the northern kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under Queen Margaret consolidated the opposition to the monopoly asserted by the Hanse League over the commerce of the North; while the rise of the power of Poland, and her successful contests with the Teutonic Order, interrupted the lines of its Eastern communications. When in 1477 Ivan, Czar of Russia, brought Novgorod into complete subjection and it ceased to be an independent city, the merchants of the Hanse League lost their footing at the point where they had established connexions with traders who were engaged in traffic with the East.

There were other movements in eastern Europe which seriously affected the course of merchandise. The advancing power of the Turks destroyed the commercial colonies on the Black Sea, and interrupted the trading intercourse in the Danube valley; in the latter half of the fifteenth century the commerce between East and West was almost entirely confined to the Egyptian and Syrian routes; Venice was the chief depot on the northern side of the Mediterranean for Eastern spices, and the centre from which these highly-valued commodities were distributed to Germany, Flanders, and the North.

The Turkish conquests had forced the principal trade of the East into restricted channels, and Christian successes were responsible for the increasing difficulties under which the commerce of the western Mediterranean was carried on. The expulsion of the Moors from Spain, which was completed by the conquest of Granada, was followed by an extraordinary development of national vigour and material prosperity in many parts of the peninsula; but the exiled population aroused the sympathy of their co-religionists in Africa; an increase of marauding expeditions by sea ensued, and the difficulties of merchants who trafficked with Morocco were seriously aggravated.

On every side, the old lines of distant trade were greatly modified by political changes; and the prosperity of the towns, which had risen into greatness as centres of commerce, was shaken at its very foundations, while rural and urban districts alike long continued to show the desolation caused directly and indirectly by the Black Death.