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American Silver and World Trade


1. Lecture

What is the role of American silver in world trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? What does it mean that China was the ‘silver sink’? What is the importance of ‘arbitrage’ in world history? Which are the effects of silver on Europe, China, India and the Ottoman Empire? Why is silver considered to be the ‘first global commodity’? What is the importance of the Manila galleons? And what is the role of Japan in this story?


PowerPoint Presentation


2. Seminar 


Prepare on “How, when and where did silver circulate?”. Divide the work in three groups and report back on:

  • The role of Potosi in the production of silver
  • The role of Europe
  • Production of silver in Japan

Post on the Unit Forum 200-words on one of these questions:

  • In what ways was trade 'global' before the arrival of Spanish silver in China?
  • How important is the founding of Manila by the Spanish in terms of global history?
3. Core Readings 
4. Essay Questions
  • ‘The importance of silver in the creation of a world economy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has been overrated’. Discuss.
  • How different were the connections created along the Silk Roads from those created by the silver trade?
  • Why was silver the only global commodity in the early modern period?
5. Further Readings

 6. External Links





File:Spanish Galleon.jpg

Spanish Galleon