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New World GoldCultural Anxiety and Monetary Disorder in Early Modern Spain$
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Elvira Vilches

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226856186

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226856193.001.0001

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Introduction: Money, Credit, and Value

Introduction: Money, Credit, and Value

(p.1) Introduction: Money, Credit, and Value
New World Gold
University of Chicago Press

Two major events—the price revolution that began in the first decades of the sixteenth century and the fiscal crisis which lingered as the series of royal bankruptcies expanded from 1557 to 1653—triggered an explosion of economic literature in Spain during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The kingdom was facing a host of problems, including the sudden escalation of prices and the deluge of American gold. As Spain grappled with the chronic deficit, economic writers considered how to salvage the nation's wealth by focusing on money, credit, and value. This book examines the impact of New World gold on early modern Spanish culture in relation to the credit economy in the first half of the sixteenth century and the fiscal crisis that ensued in the 1590s. It shows that the Indies was the center of the historical development of money, describes the difficulties encountered by Christopher Columbus in providing the reliable sources of gold which he had promised to Ferdinand and Isabella, and discusses the practices and discourses of value generated by the quest for gold.

Keywords:   gold, Spain, fiscal crisis, money, value, credit economy, Indies, Christopher Columbus, prices, New World

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