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The Spanish Conquest of the New World

Autor:   •  June 7, 2018  •  1,331 Words (6 Pages)  •  546 Views

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Countries that took part of the silver trade were also impacted economically and socially. At the same time the Spanish were trading with the Chinese, the Portuguese were trading with both the Chinese and the Japanese, at an economic advantage. In document 4, Ralph Fitch is a British merchant writing about how the Portuguese trade. Portugal acts as a middleman between Japan, a large silver mining country, and China, a country where everyone yearns for it. Portugal is able to profit from the silver trade by buying Chinese goods, trading it for silver in Japan, and then trading the silver for even better and luxurious goods in China. Fitch remarks how "the Portuguese use this Japanese silver to their great advantage in China," implying that if the British were to take part of the trade, they could also earn a great deal of money. This also reveals the start of mercantilist rivalries between European countries for East Asian trade dominance. Document 8 is written nearly a hundred years later by an English scholar, Charles D'Avenant, about the debate on restricting Indian textiles. He starts off his argument by reminding the Parliament that they were once in the spice trade but the Dutch replaced them and kicked them out. He does not want the same thing to happen again in the silver trade. He does admit that Asian goods have no use for the common people and are only used as luxurious items for the wealthy. These luxurious items are also a new symbol for the wealth to classify themselves from the commoners and the peasants that can't afford Asian goods. D'Avenant also admits that Asian countries never buy any European goods, only Asian goods are traded for silver "which is there buried and never returns." But despite England not gaining anything from the trade, D'Avenant tells the Parliament it "can never be advisable for England to quit this trade, and leave it to any other nation." If England were to leave the trade, other European nations, like Holland, have a wide open road to step in and dominate the trade, leaving England's rising global position to stay behind and become weaker. By staying in the trade, England is setting their core framework to rise even higher later on, as seen during their industrial revolution. Both Fitch and D'Avenant are concerned with England's emerging role as a global power and try to keep their country as politically high as they can.

Documents from the Spanish, Chinese, and British are analyzed to determine the economic and social effects of the global silver trade. Documents from other people in other countries could have helped to further analyze the silver trade impacts. For example, a record of sales from a Japanese merchant from 1500 to 1750 would provide insight to how Japan's economy was affected from silver. Japan was one of the top silver producing mines but yet there was no Japanese document to examine how silver affected their economy. Whether or not they had too much of it, too little of it, or what goods they exchanged it for would be vital to know when examining the effects of the global silver trade.


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