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duction for those years. Soetbeer, however, introduces other considerations: (1) a part of the quinto was often expended in America; (2) the remittances to Spain included revenues in addition to the quinto; (3) 5 per cent was added to his silver and 10 per cent to his gold figures to represent the bullion unregistered. For these reasons, the estimates he arrives at are somewhat less than those based simply on the data given in the table.
The results obtained by these two scholars are the following: 1
My own estimates for the first forty years after the conquest are based entirely upon the accounts preserved in Seville of the early treasurers of the colony. those for the first decade the exact amount of the quinto is not always clearly indicated. Inclusive sums are given which cover not only receipts from this source, but other items such as tribute of the Indians, customs dues and judicial fines. I have consequently been compelled, in some cases, to make an approximation based upon a comparison with the figures for other years.
The factor I have used to represent the "royal fifth " during this decade differs from that accepted by Soetbeer and Lexis. According to a remark dropped by the auditor Salmeron in a letter to the emperor of August
1 The proportionate amounts assigned for gold and silver were purely arbitrary assumptions. No real data were at hand. Humboldt's figures for Mexico were;
To these estimates he added one-seventh, or over 14 per cent, to represent bullion unregistered. His results were enormously reduced by both Soetbeer and Lexis.
14, 1531, the crown in the years 1523-29 had collected only one-tenth, thereafter presumably returning to the full legal quinto.1 But it is evident from the treasury papers that this " diezmo " was not universal. On some bullion one-fifth was paid; on others oneeighth and one-ninth. I have taken one-eighth as a general average.
Apparently by a cedula of September 17, 1548, the quinto on silver was again reduced to a diezmo for six years, but the rule applied only to certain districts. The ordinance was several times renewed till 1572, and then became permanent. Not till 1723 was there a general law for all Mexico. The tax on gold continued to be one-fifth till 1572, when it too was reduced to one-tenth. For the silver production of Mexico in the years 1548-60, therefore, I have again used the factor 8.
Another consideration to be noted is the "derecho del fundidor ensayador y marcador." In these American records it is clear that from the very beginning the crown charged 1 per cent for the trouble of smelting, assaying and stamping the bullion brought to the assay offices. This 1 per cent was first deducted from the bullion, and then the quinto.3 Charles V in 1552 raised the tax to 1 per cent; but 1 per cent continued to be levied in Mexico for some years, perhaps till 1578 when another cedula repeating the order of 1552 was issued. The new rule was not put into force at Potosí till 1585.5
1 Ternaux-Compans, op. cit., vol. xvi, p. 179.
* Gallardo Fernandez, F., Rentas de la corona de España, vol. vi, pp. 1-19; Duport, St. Clair, De la production des metaux precieux au Mexique. Paris, 1843, p. 161. The original cedulas bearing upon this point I have not been able to find, but their import is confirmed by the treasury papers. The general ordinance was not extended to Peru till 1735.
The rule was embodied in a general decree by Philip II in 1579. (Recop., lib. viii, tit. 10, ley 19.)
Recop., lib. iv, tit. 22, ley 13.
Add. Mss. 13,976, fol. 405 ff. In 1522, the emperor nominated his secretary, Francisco de los Cobos, " fundidor, ensayador y marcador mayor " for all New Spain.
As the combined charge amounted to only 20% per cent, I have not taken this tax into account in my calculations.
Finally, it is evident from the treasury papers that part of the tribute of the Indians was in the form of golddust. Such tribute paid to private "encomenderos " was subject to the "royal fifth," 1 and is included in the figures for the quinto. Revenue from this source on the crown estates, however, naturally represented, not onefifth, but the entire yield of the gold-washings. To cover this production I have added to my results, for the first period 10 per cent, for the second 2 per cent, of the tribute of the Indians.2
The conclusions arrived at are the following:
The entire output of gold and silver had a value of
of 8 reals.
32,289,850 pesos of 8 reals. Professor Lexis' figure was 30,600,000 pesos; that of Soetbeer, 17,243,750 pesos. The final result achieved differs little from that of Lexis. This, however, is only an accident, as his estimates are based on a mistaken reading of the TernauxCompans table. Had he interpreted the table aright, his totals would have been under twenty millions. His surmise, therefore, that the remittances from New Spain
In 1534 the patent was extended to include Peru. Santa Marta was added in 1535, and the region of Central America in 1538. As "fundidor mayor "Cobos enjoyed the income from the 1 per cent collected for the crown, and after his death the tax continued to be called, the "Cobos." In 1552 an annuity of 3,000,000 maravedis on the produce of this tax was granted to his son and widow. (A. de I., 2—1—220/16; 4—1—1/19, ramo 2; 139-1-7, lib. 13, fol. 64; Patr. 2 51, no. 2, ramos 16, 17; Aud. de Lima, 109-7-1. Restrepo, V., Estudio sobre las minas de Colombia. ed. Bogotá, 1888, p. 207.
1 Recop., lib. viii, tit. 10, leyes 6, 7.
2 I have found no evidence that there were any mines in Mexico exploited on the
account of the crown. Such is also the testimony of Humboldt.
to Seville represented on an average all of the quinto reserved to the Crown proves to be incorrect.
Furthermore, the proportionate amounts assigned by Lexis for gold and silver were wide of the mark. He far over-estimated the production of gold, and underestimated that of silver. Soetbeer's approximation for gold was much closer to the truth. Both were unaware how great was the decline in the yield of gold within twenty-five years after the coming of the Spaniards. The production of silver, on the other hand, began earlier and made greater strides than either imagined. The famous silver mines of Zacatecas were not discovered till 1548. Ten years later were opened the deposits at Guanajuato, the richest the world has ever known.1 But even before 1548 the exploitation of less celebrated mines had vastly augmented the metallic output of the country. The average annual yield in 1540-44 was over three times that of the decade immediately preceding, and was itself almost doubled by the yield of the years 1544-48.
An idea of the variations in the production of gold and silver may be gained from the following table, which summarizes my own conclusions:
When we investigate the gold and silver production of the vice-royalty of Peru and its dependencies, the difference between the figures obtained in Seville and those of Soetbeer and Lexis becomes more striking. The two German scholars made separate estimates for Peru proper (the confines of the present-day republic) and for each of the outlying regions of Upper Peru (Bolivia) and Chili. But in the sixteenth century all three were part of the same vice-royalty, and seem to have been in financial administration dependent upon the royal treasurer at Lima. There are no individual accounts in Seville for Upper Peru or Chili; and in the reports of the precious metals brought back by the great fleets, the gold and silver coming from the Pacific coast of South America is always entered under the rubric "Peru," and not itemized separately for the three districts. The presumption, therefore, is that the receipts of the "Hacienda Real" in Upper Peru and Chili—or at least the quinto - entered into the accounts of the royal treasurer at Lima. And this presumption is borne out by an examination of the accounts themselves.
It is impossible with any assurance of accuracy however, to separate in these ledgers the receipts coming from the three regions. The silver of Potosí and the gold from the vicinity of Cuzco passed through the city of Arequipa for shipment up the coast to Lima; and are noted in the treasurers' books merely as coming via Arequipa, or as "oro y plata que se trae de fuera desta ciudad." It will be necessary, therefore, to compare the results from the figures in the Sevillan archives with the
1 Doubtless, too, the gold which the conquistadores may have found in Chili.