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-1NOTES ON SILVER, FOREIGN TRADE, AND THE LATE YINO ECONOMY William S. Atwell School of Oriental and African Studies University of London Although it has Ion» been acknowledged that the imoortation of Jaoanese and Stjanish-American silver into China had a significant imDact on the late Wing economy, scholarly publications of the Dast few years have brought that point home more clearly and emohatically than ever before. From modest beginnings following the discovery of substantial silver deDosits in the provinces of Iwami and Ta.iima durine the 153Os and 1 5^Os , silver exports from Jaoan increased dramatically in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as military and political leaders such as Oda Nobunaga (153^-1582), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), the early Tokugawa shoeuns, and various daimyo sought to improve their economic oositions through mining and foreign trade. According to one leading scholar of pre-modern Japanese trade. If we add to /the amount of silver carried by Portuguese and Dutch shiDs^the share exDorted by Chinese shiDS and also UD to 163 5 bv Japanese Shuin sen /licensed ship^7. it is thought that in the early seventeenth century, comDuted in chogin /Ho* silver, 20* copDer7, every year some 4-0,000 or 50,000 kan /5-5 million taels or 150,0001R7 ,000 kilograms/ were being exnorted /from Japan/. The greater nart of this was ultimately imported into China. Similarly, not long after the establishment of Manila as their administrative capital in 1571, the Spanish conquerors of the ohilionines began a brisk trade with Chinese merchants from Fukien and Kwangtung and eventually with the Portuguese in Macao as well. In this instance, the Spanish used silver from their fabulously rich mines in modern Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico to buy a wide variety of Chinese products. The most valuable of these were then shipped across the Pacific to Acapulco for resale and distribution throughout Latin America, where they soon ended the domination of the colonial market by commercial interests in Spain. For example, in the spring of 1594 the Viceroy of Peru wrote the following to Philip II ? 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 wife in Chinese silks for two hundred reales /25 pesos7t whereas he could not provide her with clothing of Spanish silks with two hundred pesos . ' Present evidence suggests that in a good year during the early seventeenth century, the amount of silver passing through Manila into Chinese hands totalled between two and three million pesos, or apDroximately 63,000 to 94,000 kilograms. Nevertheless, because of the extremely unreliable statistics at our disposal, in some years the total could have been very much higher. For examDie , despite repeated attempts by Spanish authorities to limit the amount of New World silver going to the Philippines, . . . in l602 the Mexico City cabildo instructed its agent at the Court of Madrid to inform the king that the silver lost to his realms through shipment to the Philippines and so eventually to China came to 5 million pesos /155,000 kilograms7 a year and that in 1597 the specie sent from AcaDulco reached the staggering total of twelve millions /375,000 kilograms7. A second and somewhat less important route for Spanish-American silver going to China began with the famous flotas de plata which carried bullion every year from Vera Cruz and the Isthmus of Panama to Spain. From there some of the silver went to Portugal where it was loaded tsnto huge carracks and shipped around the Cape of -3Good Hooe to Goa. In Ooa the shiDs discharged European goods and took on Persian silver larins and additional Spanish-American silver which had filtered through the Mediterranean trading area into India. Proceeding to Malacca and Macao, the Portuguese used the silver "for the ourchase of silks, gold, and other Chi7 nese commodities for re-export to Japan, Goa, and Europe." One English observer of Portuguese trade in Asia during the late sixteenth century estimated the amount of silver shipped annually g from Goa...


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