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in Cuba, was very brief, and both islands soon repeated the history of the older colony.
Figures of the booty captured in the various expeditions along the coasts of Darien, Santa Marta and Venezula, as they are reported by Gómara, Oviedo and Herrera, give an exaggerated impression of the income of Spain from such sources. If some rich finds were
made, the total results were meagre enough. Most of the raids scarcely repaid the blood and treasure expended. And the few gold deposits discovered in those regions before the conquest of Mexico, were exhausted even more quickly than the gold-washings on the islands.
Guatemala, and its dependent provinces of Honduras and Nicaragua, continued to produce some gold after the raids of the first conquerors. But compared with the wealth of Peru or New Granada, its yield was very slight. It scarcely exceeded on an average 40,000 pesos a year. And by 1560 the output was almost negligible. Soetbeer and Lexis possessed no information regarding the gold production of these regions save what they could find in the "Coleccion de documentos ineditos" and in the historians. So their estimates again were highly problematical. For the years 1493-1520, Soetbeer assumed an average annual production of between 700 and 750 kilograms; for the years 1521-44, about 300 kilograms. This means, at the sixteenth century ratio between gold and silver, a value of 10,880,000 pesos. Lexis' figure is 48,000 kilos for the entire period, or 18,990,000 pesos.1 My own result is based upon a careful consideration of data too miscellaneous to be in
cluded in the present paper. It comes remarkably close to the approximation made by Lexis, i. e., 17,000,000.
1 At the nineteenth century ratio adopted by Soetbeer and Lexis, the figures are 17,187,500 and 30,000,000 respectively.
We have passed in review all the regions of the New World from which gold and silver were obtained in the sixteenth century. In most cases a substantial reduction has been made from the figures till now received as authoritative. The difference will appear more clearly in a table summarizing the foregoing estimates:
In view of the rôle played in European politics by Ferdinand of Spain and his grandson Charles V, it is interesting to know exactly the amount of revenue drawn by these princes from their ultramarine possessions. Precise figures are the more important because of the vague ideas of contemporary and later historians. All the royal moneys from the Indies, whatever their origin, passed through the Casa de Contratacion in
1 139,720,000 pesos of 8 reals were equivalent to 101,345,000 ducats.
Seville. From the records of this institution, therefore, such information should be readily obtainable. The receipts, decade by decade, of the treasurers of the Casa from 1503 to 1560, are as follows: 1
The total receipts to 1560 amounted to almost six billion maravedis, or over 21,371,000 pesos of 8 reals. The gold and silver given in the table by weight, which probably represented plate, jewels, gold-dust, etc., part of the spoils of the "conquistadores," I have valued at 175,000 pesos. This brings the final figure to nearly 21,550,000 pesos.
So much of the income of the Spanish crown in America actually reached the shores of Europe. It was probably two or three millions more than the whole proceeds of the quinto, and perhaps 80 per cent of all the moneys received by the American treasurers during this period. This revenue, of course, does not comprise the total importation of coin and bullion from the New World. The sums which came over on the account of
1 For the years, 1523-25, the records of which are wanting, I have assumed an annual average of 16,858,000 maravedis. For the year 1560, again, I have assumed a receipt of 400 million maravedis.
The items by weight under " 1531-40" represent part of the plunder of Peru. The 1,996 marcs was the second shipment, in charge of the contador, Antonio Navarro (the first had been brought back by Hern. Pizarro). It was equal to about 100,000 pesos de minas.
? The expenses of government in America after the creation of the vice-royalties certainly consumed more than 20 per cent of the receipts. They probably amounted nearly to 50 per cent. The figure in the text, 80 per cent, results from the fact that in the earlier years of all the colonies, before an elaborate administration was set up, by far the greater part of the royal income was shipped to Spain.
merchants and other private individuals must have been many times greater. Unfortunately we have no records of them approaching in completeness those for the receipts of the king. Every peso of gold or silver shipped from an American port had to be carefully registered, and two copies of the register forwarded to Seville on different vessels. But almost all of these registers have disappeared. The few surviving in the Archivo de Indias are of too desultory a character to make any generalizations from them possible.
We may gain some idea, however, of the extent of such importations on the principal armadas which returned from the Indies before 1560. The crown early fell into the habit, whenever it was in straits for money, of appropriating all or most of the private remittances brought back by the fleets. The dispossessed persons were generally recompensed with perpetual annuities paying from 3 per cent to 6 per cent on the capital seized. All treasure so embargoed was noted as part of the receipts of the Casa de Contratacion. The first important confiscation of this sort I have found was in 1523. It amounted to 300,000 ducats, and represented all the gold and silver that came from the Indies in five vessels on the account of passengers and merchants. The money was required for the war between the young emperor and his rival Francis I. In 1535, to meet the expenses of the campaigns against Barbary, 800,000 ducats were seized out of the treasure arriving in four ships from Peru. Over 230,000 were taken in 1538, on the return of the armada of the Blasco Nuñez Vela, and a like amount in 1545. In 1553, 600,000 ducats were confiscated from the fleet of which Bartolome Carreño was admiral, and 425,000 from the Mexican fleet of Diego Felipe two years later. The most considerable of these embargoes was in the winter of 1556–57, of the
bullion carried on the two fleets which returned from Vera Cruz and Nombre de Dios in the previous autumn. It reached a total of 1,600,390 ducats and was 21 times the sum brought on the account of the king. The gold and silver confiscated on Carreño's fleet was equal to 78 per cent of the royal treasure, and that from the fleet of Diego Felipe amounted to 60 per cent. Altogether the sum so secured during the reign of Charles V, was about five million ducats.
The report that one of these Indian argosies had been sighted off the Azores was news of supremest interest, not only to the Seville merchants, but at the court of Madrid, in Flanders, and in Germany. On the safe arrival of the galleons before San Lucar at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, or in Cadiz harbor, often depended, even in the time of Charles V, the monetary solvency of the government.
As Spain was never commercially self-sufficient, never manufacturing enough to meet her own needs, there was a lucrative import trade which attracted hosts of foreign merchants to the country. Germans and Genoese,1 in the sixteenth century, gathered into their hands not only a virtual monopoly of the Spanish fairs, but all the financial business as well. During the emperor's reign they became a serious menace. neither the revenues in the peninsula nor the treasure from the Indies was sufficient to cope with the expense of the wars, Charles was forced into greater and greater dependence upon these foreign capitalists. The returns of gold and silver from America were mortgaged in advance, and the Fuggers, the Haros and the Grimaldi were as much concerned with the safety of the Indian
1 In the earlier part of the century also a few Spanish merchant-princes established at Antwerp, like the Haros and the Vaglios. (Ehrenberg, Das Zeitalter der Fugger, pt. I, cap. 4.)