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Profits From Conquests In The Americas

1086 words - 5 pages

When European powers like Spain, Portugal, and Britain conquered the Americas, it brought them access to the global trading networks. Japan also rose in power because of their richly-filled silver mines. From the mid-sixteenth century to the early eighteenth century, this increase in conquest helped the Spanish in increasing silver production and the Japanese also had direct access to silver mines as well, which helped with their initial economies but only worsened the conditions of the lower class individuals being exploited. This in turn brought economic influences that weakened the power of nations like China and Spain that originally profited from the silver trade by receiving and trading with silver; however, Europe discretely rose above other nations with their initial grip in the silver trade.

Spain originally profited from the access to silver in the Americas but with time, the American Indians developing hardships which increased with the value of silver and China and the Philippines later benefitted more than them. Tomas de Mercado, a Spanish scholar (Doc 2) stated how Spain couldn’t profit from the access to silver because it was being imported to Chinese regions by the Manila port where the investments actually stayed. Their economies couldn’t get better because other regions profited more like the Philippine islands, which they conquered and China, which was receiving the silver. Another person who advocates the social aspect of why Spain was not benefitting from the silver trade was Antonio Vasquez de Espinosa, a Spanish priest. He wrote that Potosi, a silver mine, was being exploited for its natural minerals but in the process, it also became the home to horrid conditions for mine workers (Doc 6). The Native Americans suffered from terrible conditions at the hands of the Spaniards who only extracted the valuable mineral to benefit their own regions. Considering that Vasquez was a priest, it is not surprising that he sympathized with the American Indians in how they were being treated unfairly by the Spaniards. His sympathetic attitude paints that Spaniards as villains, which shows us that he clearly favors that the American Indians get treated more fairly. In order to get a clearer picture of the hierarchy that shapes Potosi because Vasquez’s description is limited and somewhat biased, it would be useful to have an additional document that highlights the views of a creole individual who lives in the same area and how the silver trade impacted his life.

Even though China upper class individuals benefitted more than the Spanish in the silver trade, they also weakened in power with the increased demand of silver. Ye Chunji, an official of the Ming Dynasty, limited wedding expenses by stating how the peasant class was not prospering from the silver trade while the higher class was becoming greedy (Doc 1). This does not directly affect the Chinese economy, but its principles can be applied to China’s global trading networks, which...

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