After the collapse of the Han Empire in China and the Roman Empire in the west, agricultural technologies and innovations slowed, but in the seventh century, the reestablishment of control and empire created stable political and social foundations for economic recovery. In most places, although different in time and pace, agricultural innovation and diffusion allowed for the rise of commerce. While the dynamics of the change varied in China, the Islamic World, Southeast Asia, and Europe, the underlying trends were remarkably consistent. Agriculture stimulated trade, which created a need for money and credit. In additions, new routes and networks were formed to further advance trade. Commerce advanced to the point where organizations and associations were used to better facilitate trade, and often to allow merchants and organizations to gain wealth and status. However, in some places, such as the Hawaiian Islands, highlighted in the Counterpoint of this chapter, rulers forged powerful states based on their monopoly of not only resources but also the exchange of goods, and wealth remained yoked to political power. In most other places, agricultural growth and commercial integration generated a sustained economic expansion that nourished population growth in cities and the countryside alike.

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