In the Byzantine empire, during the Fourth Crusade, the Catholics sacked and conquered Constantinople, an important trading center of the Byzantine empire. In the era of exploration, the voyages of the Ming Dynasty, Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, and the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Peru were effects from the nations wanting to expand their empire and gaining importance, globally. The purpose of the voyages from the Ming Dynasty was to gain knowledge of the world beyond their borders. This was a global turning point because before the Chinese were isolated and didn’t accept voyages beyond their empire. Years later, in 1453 the Ottoman Empire conquered the crippled Constantinople that the Catholics controlled. And as a result, the Mediterranean Sea was monitored by the Turks from the Ottoman empire.
Therefore, the Europeans had to pay taxes in order to trade, as a result, the Spanish were forced to explore to find a convenient trading route. However, this negatively affected Mexico and Peru because the Spanish then conquered them for labor and their resources. One of the resources that became essential to the many nations was silver.
During the mid 16th century to early eighteenth century, the global flow of silver which was manufactured in Spanish colonial America and Tokugawa Japan was used globally as an economic source that would aid the prosperity of their economy. However, by trying to increase their economy with silver, they needed laborers to manufacture silver. As a result, this changed the lives of many people and caused the formation of a social hierarchy. Furthermore, the production of silver also allowed other nations to exchange internationally with societies like China which further increased the wealth of many nations and caused the rise of joint-stock companies. In many Eurasian countries, the global flow of silver managed to dramatically alter the basis of their economy. In the early 1570’s, the Ming Chinese government altered its standard currency from paper money to silver and required its citizens to pay trade fees in silver. Thus, China became one of the “sinkholes” into which silver was poured by Europeans.
” (doc 1. Handouts B1). Over time their outlook about international trade has changed from an ethnocentric point of view and during the 16th century to circa 18th century, the Chinese started to trade with the Spanish Philippines. The purpose of the letter from the Ming dynasty court official, He Qiaoyuan, was to convince the emperor to repeal the ban on foreign trade because he believes that China prioritizes their principals over their profit (doc 5). Given that China emphasizes their principals over their profit, other societies such as the Spanish Philippines were gaining more profit by selling goods they obtained from China. Many societies knew the importance of being a part of the silver trade, yet England wasn’t as concerned.
However, not everyone agreed. Similar to He Qiaoyuan, English scholar, Charles D’Avenant, recommended that “it can never be advisable for England to quit this trade, and leave it to any other nation”(doc.6).
He proves that protecting the people from international trade, weakens their economy. His approach to England’s economy as an English scholar is significant because he is well-educated and has a clearer understanding about economics. Therefore, he presents a reasonable advice to the parliament of England. The benefits silver had towards economy was known worldwide and without it, the Chinese wouldn’t have been able to have a more efficient source of taxes than using paper money. Not only did silver affect the rate of an economy but it also affected the lives of citizens in a region beneficially and inconveniently. Spanish colonial America and Tokugawa Japan lead the production of silver, but in order to continue such tremendous work, they needed laborers.
The Spanish weren’t against slavery for they believed that God permitted them and blessed them to take their actions. There are paintings such as La Virgen de Cerro portraying the Virgin Mary, Inca deities, the Catholic Trinity, and Potosi which for Spain was the “center of the world’s economy and power” ( doc 4.). These paintings were used as propaganda in order to justify their actions claiming that the Virgin Mary granted them power and blessed them to take such actions.
As a result, there were “more than 3,000 Indians” that were enslaved (doc 3.) Based on this image, the artist depicts the indigenous people as having a lower social status compared to the pope and king by illustrating them smaller. This demonstrates how the Spanish viewed the indigenous people and the form of social status the King and Pope had compared to the indigenous people. The Spanish priest, Antonio Vazquez de Espinosa shares a biased point of view since not only is he from the Church, but he boasts about the economic success of Spain, meanwhile calling all the indigenous people working hard for the economy of Spain ” poor fellows.
” The reason why they are considered “poor fellows” is reported to Philip III of Spain by Guaman Poma de Ayala, Peruvian Indian who described the Indian workers working at the mines of Huancavelica as ” the victims” that are “punished … to the extent that they die like flies and our whole race is threatened with extermination”(doc 2.). Despite the fact this was written during the 17th century, it was published during the 20th century. This shows that Philip III of Spain was conscious of his actions, yet he didn’t want his people to realize the reality of the origin of their wealth. As a result of the production of silver by the Spanish and the greedy actions of other societies to obtain silver caused many regions that had silver as their natural resource to be socially destroyed, dismantled, and to suffer the cruel acts of the Spanish.
The international exchange between many countries was also affected by the production of silver. The intense global demand for Chinese goods around the 17th century is exemplified by the image of a plate that the Japanese potters imitated from the Chinese which was later used by the Dutch (doc 7.). Not only does this demonstrate the start of China becoming a market economy, it also conveys the rising power of joint-stock companies which further demonstrates the length to which Chinese goods were copied. In this case, silver served both the Dutch and the Japanese beneficially because the Dutch VOC increased their wealth, while the Japanese received knowledge about the Western culture. Moreover, the Chinese products were extremely high in demand by the Europeans such as the Spanish. Spanish scholar, Tomas de Mercado, concerned about the economic impact of the silver trade on Spain’s economy, describes the international exchange between Spain and China as hurtful for their economy and states that ” the streets of Manilla ..
.. could be paved with granite cobblestones brought by Chinese ships” (doc 1).
His purpose was to prove that Spain was shipping a tremendous amount of silver to China while gaining luxuries that will only last a while. Despite the fact the Spanish mines such as Potosi yielded tremendous amounts of silver, nearly all of the silver produced was shipped to East Asia to pay for the luxurious Chinese goods they wanted. This tells us that Spain is exporting more than it imports. The Spanish were extremely reliant on silver when it came to international exchanges with other nations, most importantly China. As a result, the Spanish economy started to decline for many reasons. One eminent reason was that the Spanish didn’t have proper control of the amount of silver exported which caused an influx of silver. Thus, this ended the international exchange with China and their prosperous economy.
The demand for Chinese products were expensive and costed the Spanish lot’s of silver which in the end hurt the economy of the Spanish but boosted the wealth of the Chinese. Overall, having a commercial relationship or international exchange with another nation can be both beneficial and unfavorable. Before the global flow of silver, sugar was once a major product. During the fourteenth century, the demand for sugar led to the development of sugar plantations near the mediterranean coast. Due to the fact that sugar became part of the European diet, African slave labor was exploited by the Spanish and Portuguese plantations on the Atlantic islands.
These plantations served for economic purposes, however, it also caused an exploit of African slave labor and Indigenous labor. Not only was there an international exchange of sugar, there was also the trade of slaves. Both sugar and silver caused an exploit in slave labor and affected the economy involved in this trade positively.