Transoceanic trade in Esquarium
Transoceanic trade has been a common occurrence across Esquarium since the 12th century, connecting all major landmasses of the globe outside Hyporia. With maritime transport being the transportation method with the highest capacity and, before the advent of airplane the fastest, it remains a crucial part of international trading in Esquarium since its emergence after the first millennium CE.
While its prominence has declined in modern age due to advent in air transport, maritime trade continues to contribute more to the global economy in both capacity and wealth in Esquarium today. Freedom of navigation, innocent passage and trade is established as principal law of the sea by the High Seas Treaty, one of the first international treaties in Esquarium that sees worldwide adoption and recognition.
Maritime history is commonly featured in many cultures, dating back to the beginning of recorded history with early seafaring cultures such as the Aburrites in Nautasia and Ama people in East Borea and Lahudica. Prehistorical transoceanic travel, although believed to be rare, is attributed to both early human migrations across Esquarium, as well as spread of culture across continents.
The first recorded transcontinental trade routes, however, did not appear until the 8th century CE between Nautasia and Borea, as well as between Nordania and Conitia, with the former relying heavily on maritime trade across the Central Ocean, and a mix of sea- and land-based transport in the latter.
Trade among Nordania and Conitia was facilitated by the security that the Port of Evonia in the Meduccian Merchant Republic (today, modern day Ravetia) provided. While the Ravetian city states were embroiled in constant war, their ports were a safe haven for any ships entering from abroad since the majority of the fighting was done on land. The large influx of foreign ships pushed the Ravetians to invest heavily in naval power, mostly in smaller, fast and agile vessels.
Trade across Voragic Ocean first occured in the 12th century, with Tuthinan explorers or possibly shipwreck victims arriving at western Nordanian coast. Their discovery culminated to the First Tuthinan Expedition in 1169, where Sjealandic explorers and merchants arrive in Lahudica after three weeks of sail. It soon leads to establishment of formal relations between Tuthina and Sjealand, leading to the birth of trans-Voragic maritime trade.
With trans-Voragic trade network extending to Conitia in the 14th century, and Aurega beginning to trade with western Borea, especially what would become Luziyca a century later, a global trade network was formed, leading to a significant increase in maritime trade across both Central and Voragic Ocean. Exchange of goods, people and idea is commonly attributed to golden age across the globe in that period, especially for contemporary trading powers, including the Gilded Age in Sjealand and the Palingenetic Radiance in Tuthina.
At the same time, decline in global trade and partial collapse of local trade networks has been a common cause for extended period of war and instability, with the most recent and most widespread one being the Volatile Century, a period in the 19th and 20th century where rise in nationalism and protectionism led to a cycle of warfare, military expansion and stagnation of economic growth in many areas of Esquarium.
Nordano-Borean trade was limited throughout most of the first millenium, with most trade being only minor occurences of ships blown off course and limited to the most out-lying Tuthinan islands and the westernmost parts of Nordania. In the early 1000's increasing reports of said trade had reached the Imperial Tuthinan Court, which took an interest to the foreign lands and dispatched several smaller fleets to explore and charter the coasts. The early expeditions reached Vestmannaland but found the local ports lacking thanks to the generally cold climates and the heavy storms plaguing Northern Nordania. Nevertheless the tuthinans managed to charter most of the Sea of Njord from Elsbridge to the Great Tynic Belt in the Tynic Sea. Minor commerce did happen during these expeditions, but they were limited in scope, with the trade serving more to bring artifacts home to the Emperor, than to actually enrich the captains.
This minor contact generally carried on for most of the 1000's and the beginning of the 1100's with sporadic Nordano-Borean contact happening at random. It wouldnt be until 1162 when the the first steps were taken by any party to make the contact more permanent and profitable. The Sjealandic Archking Knud II, having been exposed to primarily Tuthinan fineries in his childhood and having heard tales of Borea issued proposals to several Sjealandic merchant guilds for a massive trade expedition to Borea, with a fleet finished in 1168 and it finally departing in 1169, consisting of 12 cogs, 7 hulks and 5 dromons. Even before the dispatch of the expedition, the traders in cooperation with the government had contacted several city-states and kingdoms on the Nordanian western coast, negotiationg permission to dock and re-supply as well as the possibility for establishing trade-posts in the towns. This meticulous planning in part helped establish the route, giving the Nordanians a pre-existing network of resupply and docking opportunities.
Upon reaching Tuthina in late 1169 the expedition was at firt met with mild curiosity by the Tuthinan court, but upon further communication, the value in permanent ties to Nordania was seen. The upper class of many Nordanian societies had great interest in many Tuthinan wares such as silk, spice and dyes. In return Nordanias pre-existing trade-networks and access to large amounts of raw resources and goods such as furs and amber, enticed the Tuthinans, who signed a pact with the Sjealanders, establishing formal trading ties and giving each-other mutual preferential treatment in their respective ports. The first decades of trade were not as much marked by a continuum of trade, as they were by several larger expeditions and fleets mounted by the Sjealanders and Tuthinans which were regularly dispatched along the burgeoning route. While the Nordanians lusted for the spices and silks of Tuthina, the Tuthinans themselves soon saw a growing appetite for the famed Nordvakt Steel weapons that were made in the Sjealandic port. With iron primarily coming in from mines in Swastria and Vasturia, the smiths in Nordvakt created especially durable and strong weapons and armor, which the Tuthinans greatly sought for the expanding military leading directly to the birth of a weapons industry in Nordvakt fusing Borean and Nordanian weapon designs. The Sjealandic route generally kept itself like this for most of the 12-1300's with ship designs not yet strong enough to sustain a continuous trans-oceanic voyage many times. At this point Tuthinan trade was also limited in scope to only a few ports on the Sea of Njord and with the prices of Tuthinan goods in Nordania still being astronomically high. However this smaller scale trade served to laid the foundation for the explosion of trade that occurred in the 1400's.
By 1400 the Sjealanders had sprung back from the disastrous Swastrian invasion of Sjealand, as well as the civil war known as the Halmsfeld Heresy. The Sjealandic standard flew over Asgård, Elsbridge and Circevik, and Sjealand had had control over Vasturia as well before losing it in the tail end of the 1300´s practically making the Sea of Njord a Sjealandic lake for a century. This wide-spread maritime control led to an explosive development in shipbuilding with new types of vessels springing out of the dockyards of the country. Determined to actively use this to their advantage the Sjealandic Monarchy in cooperation with the Tuthinan Company led a series of diplomatic negotiations down through the western Nordanian coast and with the Tuthinan Emperor, laying the ground-work for the many Sjealandic trade-posts that would be constructed, leased, bought and conquered in the following centuries. In eastern Tuthina the Kwan'they archipelago was outright bought from the Tuthinans for a period of 400 years, becoming an integral part of the Sjealandic Realm, and one of the most important harbours in the Voragic Ocean. With the Sjealandic traders now firmly and constantly in Tuthina and East Borea, more Boreans also began sailing to Nordania; Tuthinans, Tinzans, Senrians, Min and Xiaodongese all began to mount trading ventures in both the Tuthinan Sea and further on to Nordania, with the Sjealandic trade-posts facilitating the journeys and bringing in much income for the local areas and the state itself. In particular Tuthinan and Tinzan merchants became a common sight in the western Sea of Njord and in the Tynic Sea, as Asgård became a de-facto trade-hub for almost all Trans-Voragic trade going to Nordania.
For East Borea and the Tuthinan archipelago this increased trade and newer modern shipbuilding techniques also led to a general rise of prosperity, as their wares were swallowed by the hungry markets of Nordania, and as they themselves were introduced to newer nordanian inventions, or developments of borean inventions, such as improved firearms designs. In Tinza, Trinitarian converts from Sjealand settled in the Tinzan coastlands, bringing with them the new Nordanian banking methods and helping kickstart the Tinzan economy in many ways, improving farming and leading to a small urban explosion as people sought towards the towns of the coast both for trading opportunities as well as the development of urban economies inspired in part by Tuthina and Nordanian free cities. In fact by 1600 much of the East Borean coast had been heavily urbanized with the help of architects from across Nordania and Conitia with a blend of Nordanian and borean architecture appearing in many of the most prominent towns, especially in the areas most frequented by the Sjealandic traders. By this time the route had also expanded significantly. As the first forays into the Akai archipelago had proved very profitable, with agreements being made with the Lazin rulers of Lazinato, and new trade-posts set up, laying the way for Lazin trade up the trade-route into east Borea.
The 1600's also brought with them a reversal on some of the goods trading along the trade-routes, as improved musket-designs from Xiaodong and Senria made their way towards Nordania, where-as many of the luxury products that the Boreans had earlier sold to the Nordanians died out, with Nordanian luxuries such as clocks, artwork and especially jewelry from Asgård. The Sjealandic merchants were buying precious gems by the tons in Borea and Nautasia, sending back to Asgård where they were cut and refined before being put into various types of crowns, and jewelry. These were highly sought both in Borea and Nordania, and many former and current monarchies in Borea still own many sets created in Asgård.
Conflict with the Erkemeni Sultanate in Nautasia had initially pulled resources away from the Sjealandic trade-companies, but with the final ceasefire the Sjealanders and Erkemenis signed several agreements, opening up the use of Sjealandic treaty-ports and trade stations along the Borean coasts to the Erkemenis. The reason for the Sjealandic ability to facilitate such trade was not in actuality that they produced the most, or held the most power in the region, but instead the incredible naval and administrative skill of the trade-companies and navies in the region. With the joint-stock companies that formed the trading-groups being able to manage a trade that crossed three continents while maintaining a sizable naval force to discourage piracy and privateering. This process of acting as the middlemen also served to ease general trade in Borea, as the large amount of Nordano-Borean trade had forced the many partners to standardize several units of measurement and general codes of conducts to save money and time, effectively streamlining much of the process. Many economists propose that the first basis of free trade began here in the Borean markets as Borean and Nordanian merchants together developed new schools of though and methods that fit with their views.
The trade-route reached its greatest period in the 1700's, improved ship-building designs made in cooperation between the Xiaodongese and Sjealanders led to larger ships that could sail further, and thus for the first time the number of trade stations actually decreased, not because the trade was slowing, but because the number of small offices and ports necessary to facilitate it was lowered. In return the other ports and trade-stations saw a great boost in size as visitors, as the larger ships significantly increased the number of wares a single ship could carry, coupled with the Sjealandic Golden Age and the general upturn in the quality of life in many parts of Borea significantly increased the market for many of the wares, and the merchants and trade-companies flourished, with the stockholders in Nordania and the rulers in Borea seeing immense profits and new commercial ventures. The 1700's also saw the involvment of the newly independent Ambrose in the trade, as Tuthinan and Ambrosian whalers together sailed across the northern waters of the Voragic, hunting the many whales in the area for their blubber, ambergris and oil. The Ambrosian port city of Peel Goodred and the Tuthinan town of Atkes both became respective centers for the whaling industry, developing new whaling methods as well as new equipment.