Department of Italian
Presenter: Nicola di Cosmo (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)
Moderator: Pier Mattia Tommasino (Columbia University, Italian)
In the late thirteen and fourteenth centuries Venice, as one of the leading maritime and commercial powers in Europe, established commercial bases in territories that had come under Mongol rule. From Russia to Persia and China Venetian merchants, envoys, and political representatives entertained relations with the Mongol rulers, opening up trade routes and exploiting commercial opportunities, but above all entering a cultural and political space to which they had to adjust, in the process creating new forms of communication, trade, and diplomacy. Why did the Venetians go deep into Asia and what did they accomplish? How did the Mongols react to the European presence in their empire? And finally, what was the position of these colonies in the general landscape of late Medieval Europe and its global connections? While the historical literature is vast, some of the larger questions remain elusive, especially because relatively little attention has been paid to the position and actions of the Mongols. This talk seeks to highlight and explain some of the critical nodes across the temporal arc of the presence of Venetians in the Mongol, empire.