European and Italian trades on the Silk Road: a reassessment

  • Salvatore Ciriacono University of Padua
Keywords: trades; Chinese Silk Road; commercial exchange; political affairs; Asian markets; Russian expansion; development; Chinese-Russian rapports; East-West economy connections; Italian artisans in India.


The principal aim of my essay is looking at the presence and the role of  the European and particularly Italian merchants on the so called “Silk Road” during the 17th and 18th century. We have to remember that this expression was introduced by the German geologist Ferdinand von Richthofen, a topic that is receiving a growing attention from the contemporary historians. Indeed this focus is connected to the attention that is given by contemporary economic/political actors to the fortune of the Chinese economy. It is not an accident that Chinese advance is seen by many as the cause of the declining role of Western economies inside the world market.


Harlaftis G. et al. (eds.), The New Ways of History, London, IB Tauris, 2009.
Teissier, B. Russian Frontiers: Eighteenth-Century British Travellers in the Caspian, Caucasus and Central Asia, Oxford, Signal Books, 2011.
Millward, J. Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864, Stanford, Stanford, University Press,1998.
Curtin, Ph. D. Cross-cultural Trade in World History (Studies in Comparative World History), New York, Cambridge University Press, 1984.
The Journey of Maps and Images on the Silk Road (Brill's Inner Asian Library), Ph. Foret, A. Kaplony (eds.), Leiden-Boston, 2008.
Asia and the West. Encounters and exchanges from the age of explorations. Essays in honour of Donald, F. Lach, C. K. Pullapilly et al. eds,, Notre dame, Cross Cultural Publications, 1986.
Jacquelard, C. De Séville à Manille, les Espagnols en mer de Chine, 1520-1610, Paris, Les Indes Savantes, 2015.
Di Cosmo, N. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History, Cambridge, CUP, 2002.
Di Cosmo, N. “State Formation and Periodization in Inner Asian. History”, in Journal of World History, 10:1, Spring 1999, pp. 1-40.
Erikson, E. Between Monopoly and Free Trade: The English East India Company, 1600–1757, Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press. 2014.
Perdue, Peter C. China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia, Cambridge, The Belknap Press, 2005.
Khodarkovsky M., Russia's Steppe Frontier: The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500-1800, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 2002.
Hugh R. Clark, “Frontier Discourse and China’s Maritime Frontier: China’s Frontiers and the Encounter with the Sea through. Early Imperial History”, in Journal of World History, 20: 1, 2009, pp.1-33.
Rota, G. “Diplomatic Relations between the Safavids and Siam in the 17th Century”, in Aspects of the maritime silk road: from the Persian Gulf to the East China Sea, Ralph Kauz ed., Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2010, pp. 71-84.
Jan de Vries. “Connecting Europe and Asia: a Quantitative Analysis of the Cape-route Trade, 1497-1795”, in Global Connections and Monetary System, 1470-1800, Dennis O. Flynn et al. eds., Aldershot, Ashgate, 2003, pp. 35-106.
Adolf Beer, Geschichte des Westhandels im neunzehnten Jahrhundert, Wien, Braumüller, Erster Band, 1864.
The Cambridge History of Inner Asia. The Chinggisid Age, Nicola Di Cosmo, Allen J. Frank and Peter B. Golden eds., Cambridge, CUP, 2009.
Paviot, J. “Les marchands italiens dans l’Iran mongol”, in L’Iran face à la domination mongole. Etudes réunies et présentées par Denise Aigle, Téhéran, Institut Français de Recherche en Iran, 1997, pp. 71-86.
Lombard, D. “Questions on the contact between European companies and Asian societies”, in Companies and Trade, Leonard Blussé and Femme Gaastra eds., Leiden, Leiden University Press, 1981, pp. 180-187.
Druhe, David N. Russo-India relations, 1466-1917, New York, Vantage, 1970.
Sladkovskii, M. I. History of Economic Relations between Russia and China, Jerusalem, Israel Program for Scientific Translations, 1966.
Monahan, E. The Merchants of Siberia. Trade in early Modern Eurasia, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 2016.
Asia Expansions. The Historical experiences of Polity Expansion in Asia, Geoff Wade ed., New York Routledge, 2015.
Andrade, T. “Asian States and Overseas Expansion, 1500-1700. An Approach to the Problem of European Exceptionalism”, in Asia Expansions. The Historical experiences… G. Wade ed., pp. 52-68.

Steensgaard, N. Carracks, Caravans and Companies. The Structural Crisis in the European-Asian Trade in the Early 17th Century, Odense, Studentlitteratur, 1973.
Ptak, R. Die maritime Seidenstrasse. Küstenräume, Seefahrt und Handel in vorkolonialer Zeit, München, C.H. Beck, 2007.
Die Seidenstrasse. Handel und Kulturaustausch in einem eurasiatischen Wegenetz, Ulrich Huebner, Jens Kamlah and Lucian Reinfandt, Hamburg, EB-Verlag, 2001.
Alessandrini, A. Viola, N. in “Reti finanziarie e reti commerciali”, in Rivista di Storia Economica, XVIII (2015), n.2.
Gipouloux, F. La Méditerranée asiatique. Villes portuaires et réseaux marchands en Chine, au Japon et en Asie du Sud-Est, XVIe-XXIe siècle, Paris, CNRS-Editions 2009.
Stanziani, A. After Oriental Despotism. Eurasian Growth in a Global Perspective, London, Bloomsbury, 2014.
Findlay-K.O’Rourke, R. Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2009.
Frankopan, P. The Silk Roads. A New History of the World, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Blanchard, I. “The 'Great Silk Road', ca.1650/70-ca. 1855”, in Small is Beautiful ? Interlopers and Smaller Trading Nations in the Pre-industrial Period, Markus A. Denzel et al., Stuttgart, F. Steiner, 2011, pp. 253-275.

Abstract views: 215
PDF Downloads: 178
How to Cite
Ciriacono, S. (2018). European and Italian trades on the Silk Road: a reassessment. Fundamental and Applied Researches in Practice of Leading Scientific Schools, 27(3), 131-135.