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The Silk Roads: A New History of the World The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan
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“So widespread was slavery in the Mediterranean and the Arabic world that even today regular greetings reference human trafficking. All over Italy, when they meet, people say to each other, “schiavo,” from a Venetian dialect. “Ciao,” as it is more commonly spelt, does not mean “hello”; it means “I am your slave.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“And yet, despite the horror it caused, the plague turned out to be the catalyst for social and economic change that was so profound that far from marking the death of Europe, it served as its making.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“A talent for following the ways of yesterday’, declared King Wu-ling in 307 BC, ‘is not sufficient to improve the world of today.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Kiev became a linchpin of the medieval world, evidenced by the marriage ties of the ruling house in the second half of the eleventh century. Daughters of Yaroslav the Wise, who reigned as Grand Prince of Kiev until 1054, married the King of Norway, the King of Hungary, the King of Sweden and the King of France. One son married the daughter of the King of Poland, while another took as his wife a member of the imperial family of Constantinople. The marriages made in the next generation were even more impressive. Rus’ princesses were married to the King of Hungary, the King of Poland and the powerful German Emperor, Henry IV. Among other illustrious matches was Gytha, the wife of Vladimir II Monomakh, the Grand Prince of Kiev: she was the daughter of Harold II, King of England, who was killed at the battle of Hastings in 1066. The ruling family in Kiev was the best-connected dynasty in Europe.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“So widespread was slavery in the Mediterranean and the Arabic world that even today regular greetings reference human trafficking. All over Italy, when they meet, people say to each other, ‘schiavo’, from a Venetian dialect. ‘Ciao’, as it is more commonly spelt, does not mean ‘hello’; it means ‘I am your slave’.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“As the two bullets left the chamber of Princip’s Browning revolver, Europe was a continent of empires. Italy, France, Austro-Hungary, Germany, Russia, Ottoman Turkey, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, even tiny Belgium, only formed in 1831, controlled vast territories across the world. At the moment of impact, the process of turning them back into local powers began. Within a matter of years, gone were the emperors who had sailed on each other’s yachts and appointed each other to grand chivalric orders; gone were some colonies and dominions overseas—and others were starting to go in an inexorable progression to independence.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“We think of globalisation as a uniquely modern phenomenon; yet 2,000 years ago too, it was a fact of life, one that presented opportunities, created problems and prompted technological advance. As”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Only a European author could have concluded that the natural state of man was to be in a constant state of violence; and only a European author would have been right.70”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Sensitive pricing and a deliberate policy of keeping taxes low were symptomatic of the bureaucratic nous of the Mongol Empire, which gets too easily lost beneath the images of violence and wanton destruction. In fact, the Mongols’ success lay not in indiscriminate brutality but in their willingness to compromise and co-operate, thanks to the relentless effort to sustain a system that renewed central control.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“We think of globalisation as a uniquely modern phenomenon; yet 2,000 years ago too, it was a fact of life, one that presented opportunities, created problems and prompted technological advance.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“although scholars have long called this period the Renaissance, this was no rebirth. Rather, it was a Naissance – a birth. For the first time in history, Europe lay at the heart of the world.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Indeed, statistical modelling based on these results even suggests that one of the effects of the plague was a substantial improvement in life expectancy.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Money, rather than men, began to be used as currency for trade with the east.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“While the Muslim world took delight in innovation, progress and new ideas, much of Christian Europe withered in the gloom, crippled by a lack of resources and a dearth of curiosity.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“The future, he predicted, would belong either to the Muslims or to the Christians; it could not belong to both.38”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“One caliph in the eighth century went so far as to conduct a series of experiments to freeze a range of different furs to see which offered the best protection in extreme conditions. He filled a series of containers with water and left them overnight in ice-cold weather, according to one Arabic writer. ‘In the morning, he had the [flasks] brought to him. All were frozen except the one with black fox fur. He thus learned which fur was the warmest and the driest.’22”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“An English visitor to Amsterdam in 1640 could not hide how impressed he was by what he saw. In the Low Countries, wrote Peter Mundy, even houses of “indifferent quality” were filled with furniture and ornaments “very Costly and Curious, Full of pleasure and home contentment, as Ritche Cupboards, Cabinetts…Imagery, porcelain, Costly Fine cages with birds” and more besides. Even butchers and bakers, blacksmiths and cobblers had paintings and luxury trinkets in their homes.60 “I was amazed,” wrote the English diarist John Evelyn about the annual fair in Rotterdam at around the same time; it was flooded with paintings, especially with “landscapes and drolleries, as they call those clownish representations.” Even common farmers had become avid art collectors.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“The Middle Ages in Europe are traditionally seen as the time of Crusades, chivalry and the growing power of the papacy, but all this was little more than a sideshow to the titanic struggles taking place further east. The tribal system had led the Mongols to the brink of global domination, having conquered almost the whole continent of Asia. Europe and North Africa yawned open; it was striking then that the Mongol leadership focused not on the former but on the latter. Put simply, Europe was not the best prize on offer. All that stood in the way of Mongol control of the Nile, of Egypt’s rich agricultural output and its crucial position as a junction on the trade routes in all directions was an army commanded by men who were drawn from the very same steppes: this was not just a struggle for supremacy, it was the triumph of a political, cultural and social system. The battle for the medieval world was being fought between nomads from Central and eastern Asia.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“The age of empire and the rise of the west were built on the capacity to inflict violence on a major scale. The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, the progression towards democracy, civil liberty and human rights, were not the result of an unseen chain linking back to Athens in antiquity or a natural state of affairs in Europe; they were the fruits of political, military and economic success in faraway continents. This seemed unlikely when Columbus set sail into the”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“In Afghanistan, a word was coined for the practice of seeking support from both superpowers: literally meaning ‘without sides’, bi-tarafi became a tenet of a foreign policy that sought to balance the contributions made by the USSR with those of the US.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“It is ironic, therefore, that while Constantine is famous for being the Emperor who laid the basis for the Christianisation of Europe, it is never noted that there was a price to pay for his embrace of a new faith: it spectacularly compromised Christianity’s future in the east. The”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Indeed, even in the Middle Ages, there were many more Christians in Asia than there were in Europe.50 After all, Baghdad is closer to Jerusalem than to Athens, while Teheran is nearer the Holy Land than Rome, and Samarkand is closer to it than Paris and London. Christianity’s success in the east has long been forgotten.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“The similarities with Christianity and Judaism later became a sensitive topic, which was partly dealt with by the dogma that Muammad was illiterate. This insulated him from claims that he was familiar with the teachings of the Torah and the Bible – despite near-contemporaries commenting that he was ‘learned’, and knew both the Old and New Testament.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“One result of this was that Hitler’s oppression was deemed worse than that of Stalin. The narrative of the war as a triumph over tyranny was selective, singling out one political enemy while glossing over the faults and failings of recent friends. Many in central and eastern Europe would beg to differ with this story of the triumph of democracy, pointing out the price that was paid over subsequent decades by those who found themselves on the wrong side of an arbitrary line. Western Europe had its history to protect, however, and that meant emphasising successes—and keeping quiet about mistakes and about decisions that could be explained as realpolitik.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“There was a natural overlap, for example, between the deep anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime and that of some leading Islamic scholars. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muḥammad al-Ḥusaynī, had welcomed the rise of a man he later referred to as “al-ḥajj Muḥammad Hitler.” The German leader’s anti-Semitic views were grist to the mill of a man happy to call for the death of Jews, whom he referred to as “scum and germs.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“In the 730s, a crushing defeat was inflicted on the Türk nomads, whose ramifications were made more severe when Sulu, the dominant figure on the steppes, was murdered following a bad-tempered game of backgammon.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Albrecht Dürer was stunned by the quality of the craftsmanship of Aztec treasures he saw exhibited in 1520. “Nothing I have seen in all my days rejoiced my heart so much as these things,” he wrote of objects that included “a sun entirely of gold” and a silver moon, both six feet in width. He”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“There is more going on, then, than the clumsy interventions of the west in Iraq and Afghanistan and the use of pressure in Ukraine, Iran and elsewhere. From east to west, the Silk Roads are rising up once more. It is easy to feel confused and disturbed by dislocation and violence . . . . What we are witnessing, however, are the birthing pains of a region that once dominated the intellectual, cultural and economic landscape and which is now re-emerging. We are seeing the signs of the world's centre of gravity shifting—back to where it lay for millennia.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“But two other important reasons also help explain the triumph of Islam in the early part of the seventh century: the support provided by Christians, and above all that given by Jews.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
“Concerns had been growing about the rising levels of Jewish immigration to Britain, with the numbers arriving from Russia alone rising by a factor of five between 1880 and 1920. At the turn of the twentieth century, there had been discussions about offering land in East Africa to encourage Jewish émigrés to settle there, but by the time of the war attention had shifted to Palestine. In 1917, a letter from the Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, to Lord Rothschild was leaked to The Times that spoke of ‘His Majesty’s Government [viewing] with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’. 7 Known as the Balfour Declaration, the idea of designating territories for Jews to settle was what Balfour later described to the House of Lords as ‘a partial solution to the great and abiding Jewish problem’. 8 Although the championing of a homeland for European Jews has understandably attracted attention, Britain also had its eye on Palestine for its position in relation to the oilfields and as a terminus for a pipeline linking to the Mediterranean. This would save a journey of a thousand miles, planners later noted, and would give Britain ‘virtual control over the output of what may well prove to be one of the richest oil fields in the world’.”
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

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