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Silver and States: The Birth of a World System

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Adam Sundberg

on 23 September 2017

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Transcript of Silver and States: The Birth of a World System

Silver and States: The Birth of a World System
Questions for the week
- What was the 17th and 18th century World System?
- what did it look like?
- When did it begin?
- What did it carry?

- Why was the silver trade so transformative?
- Where did all the silver come from?
- Where was the demand?

What are world systems?
- Social and economic organizations
- many different cultures
- integration of markets in labor and commodities

- Do not have to be the entire globe
world systems develop in the 16th and 17th centuries

- Necessarily impact local cultures, economies, societies, environments

- How does one describe it?
Gerardus Mercator, World Map, 1569

- 1521 - Magellan reaches the Philippines
- 1565 - Discovery of eastward route
- 1571 - Center of trade established at Manila

Fujian Manila Acapulco

- Problems -
- How to navigate there?
- What the Europeans/Americans
could trade with China?
New Spain

Early Modern Globalization
Ming Dynasty China (1368–1644)
- Early modern superpower
- 80% of global production
- 67% of global population
- Urbanization, agricultural development, porcelain/silk production
- Uninterested in European goods
- Convert to silver standard from paper currency
- import huge amounts from Japan
- still need more
- Chinese Demand Driver of Globalization
- How much?
Potosí and New World Silver
- Modern Day Bolivia
- Early Modern Boom-town
- culturally diverse
- 120,000+ inhabitants (as big as London or Amsterdam
- Exploitative labor system
- mit'a system
- kills 8 million indians

- Richest silver mine in history
- Produced 32 million lbs of silver and 360,000 lbs of gold between 1503-1660
- 80% of the value of Spanish trade
- 3/4 go to China
La Virgen del Cerro, Casa Nacional de Moneda, Potosi, Bolivia, 18th c.

Impacts of Globalized Trade?*
*Chinese demand
- expansion of Chinese Economy
- Chinese products in Europe/Americas
- “Chinese merchandise is so cheap and Spanish goods so dear that I believe it impossible to choke off the trade to such an extent that no Chinese wares will be consumed in this realm, since a man can clothe his wide in Chinese silks for 200 reales (25 pesos), whereas he could not provide her with clothing of Spanish silks with 200 pesos”

- Europeans merely middlemen
- begin to fight over that carrying trade

China Poblana Dress
Impacts of Globalized Trade II: Chinese/American Wealth in Europe
- Before 1620
- Habsburg/Spanish Empire Building
- Money for continental empire-building
- Catholic expansion
- inflation

World Map of the Union under the personal union of the Spanish monarchs (1580–1640)
Ascendency of the Dutch Republic
- Pre- 1568
- already a powerful trading region
- part of the Burgundian lands

- 1568-1648
- 80 Years War
- (Dutch Independence from Hapsburg Spain)
- partly religious
- Growth of Calvinism
- Taxation
- Paid for Spanish imperial expansion
- After 1620
- American silver imports declined
- no more from Europe, so inter-European warfare became partly commercial
- hyperinflation
- In addition to the rise of states, you see the rise of mercantile economies
- Development of Joint Stock Companies
- A form of insurance
- broad participation in economy
- Reduces competition
- Founding of the
Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie
- first multi-national company

- Becomes World Trading Hegemon
- Dominated Carrying trade in Europe, East Asia
- Links to Japan, Brazil, Suriname, North America, South Africa, Indonesia

- Create Trading Empire
- VOC and later WIC operate as states

- Free Trade?
- Who benefits?
Claes Jaansz. Visscher, "Leo Belgicus." 1586
Dutch Republic as the First Modern Economy?
"The Indians enter these infernal pits by some leather ropes like staircases. They spend all day Monday on this journey, taking some bags of roasted maize for their sustenance. Once inside, they spend the whole week in there without emerging, working with tallow candles. They are in great danger inside there, for one very small stone that falls injures or kills anyone it strikes. If 20 healthy Indians enter on Monday, half may emerge crippled on Saturday." - Spanish Priest Rodrigo de Loaisa
Columbian Exchange reaches China
- More than silver
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn
- grew in soil that would not support rice
- Also peanuts and chiles
- important because they are sources of protein and vitamin A
- necessary for the poor
- Caused fertility boom in Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)
- Also widespread erosion and flooding

Aelbert Eckhout, East India Market Stall, mid 17th c.
- Born in Flanders
- Heir to Burgundy, Hapsburg Empire, Aragon/Castile
- Reformation/Counter-Reformation/Society of Jesus
- Supported exploration/colonization
- Abdicated throne
Charles V
Phillip II
- Inherits Spain, Low Countries,Overseas Empire
- Philippines
- Defender of faith/inquisition
- Battle of Lepanto, 1571
- Spanish Armada, 1588
- Cultural Golden Age
- Black Legend/White Legend
Iconoclasm, 1566
Jan Micker,
, 1652
Dutch Golden Age
Art and Culture
Science, Philosophy, and Technology
“Their buildings are made with stone, and brick very strong, but not very high, by reason of the many earthquakes, which would endanger their houses if they were above three stories. The streets are very broad, in the narrowest of them three coaches may go, and in the broadest six may go in the breadth of them, which makes the city seem a great deal bigger than it is. In my time it was thought to be between 30-40,000 inhabitants Spaniards who are so proud and rich that half the city was judged to keep coaches, for it was a most credible report that in mexico in my time there were above 15,000 coaches. It is a by-word that at Mexico there are four things fair, that is to say, the women, the apparel, the horses, and the streets. But to this I may add the beauty of some of the coaches of the gentry, which do exceed in cost the best of the Court of Madrid and other parts of Christendom; for they spare no silver, no gold, nor precious stones, nor cloth of Gold, nor the best silks from China to enrich them.” – Thomas Gage, 1625
Chocolatero, 18th c.
“Only after the Portuguese had worked their way down the West African coast, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, crossed the Indian Ocean and established themselves in the Spice Islands of Indonesia and on the shore of the South China Sea; only after the Spaniards had attained the same goal by way of Patagonia, the Pacific Ocean and the Philippines—then and only then was a regular and lasting maritime connection established- between the four great continents." - C.R. Boxer
150,000 tons between 1500-1800
80% of global production
Delftware, 17th C.
17th Century Biombo
Dutch Brazil
New Netherland
Dutch Beurs
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