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11/24/19

"Potosí: The Silver City That Changed the World", by Kris Lane

One of the most interesting places in all the continent* and a must visit for anyone connected to mining, the town of Potosí in Bolivia has a history like no other. A new book is out on the story and kind reader GB put this link to the NY Review of Books critique of author Kris Lane's efforts. Well worth reading just the review to find out more. A small appetite-whetter:
"...the history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, which could never have become the dominant power in early modern Europe without the regular supply of silver extracted from the mines of what is today Bolivia, but during the period of Spanish rule was part of the viceroyalty of Peru. Every year this silver was shipped to Seville, where it entered the royal coffers and those of financiers, merchants, and private individuals. From Spain the silver circulated through Europe, paying for the military and other expenses of the always indebted Spanish crown, facilitating private transactions, and flowing into Asia and the Far East, where it met the rising demands of Mughal India and Ming China for silver, and allowed Europeans in turn to purchase the spices, textiles, and other luxuries from the East that they craved. The quantities of silver from Potosí that reached Seville and were recorded by the officials of its House of Trade were staggering. Indeed, vale un Potosí—“worth a Potosí”—is an expression still used in Spain."


*Yes, I have. Three times.