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World Silver Trade DBQ

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  • Category: Chinese

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The global trade of silver had a devastating affect on the Chinese economy because China did not have the supply of silver that was needed to support their economy so they became dependent on the trade that the Europeans brought (1,3,7,8). In Europeans states like Spain and Portugal we see their economies benefiting from the increase of the global silver trade because they controlled silver mines in the Americas and India (2,4,6). In china the increase of silver trade brought greater social inequality between the social classes because they lacked a constant supply of silver, in Spain we also see and increase of social inequality because they had a much greater amount of silver that was not distributed fairly (3,5,6).

China used to have an economy based on bartering but now it has made its standard currency silver, this and the increase of global silver trade has caused devastating affects to their economy because of the lack of the silver coin that they actually had. Ye Chunji an official during the Ming dynasty was sent out to limit wedding expenses. This shows that people are spending their money on useless amenities that do not benefit the economy therefore we see a limit being place (1). Since this was a county official and most official were Confucian scholars that disliked people that portrayed themselves as extravagant, so Chunji would support this spending limit. Wang Xije a Ming dynasty court official said that the lack of the silver coin led to the fall of prices in grain. As the silver that China had became more scarce due to the fact that people spent their money on useless things we see the working class like farmers getting less profit from their crops because the lack of silver (3).

Since court official in china were Confucian scholars and peasants were below them in the social hierarchy they wanted them to be prospering so they can prosper as well. China began depending solemnly on the trade with Europeans to provide them with silver as seen by Charles Davenant and English scholar. He said that Europeans only receive luxury goods from China and always sent back silver (8). As China became more dependent on European trade they began to see that other parts of the world were profiting. He Qiaoyuan a Ming dynasty court official noticed that silk sold worth 100 bars of silver in China could be worth up to 300 in the Philippines showing that others economies are prospering (7). An additional document of a Chinese merchant stating how his life was affected by the new economy and if he was prospering or not would help me to analyze the economical effects of the silver trade in China because it would give me a broader view of the effects it had on different people.

Since Spain was one of main powers that helped increase the global trade of silver we see its economy benefiting considerably from it. Tomas de Mercado said that Spain began having so much silver that prices began to rise and they kept wanting Asian luxury goods. This shows that Spain has benefited enough from the silver trade to be able to spend money on useless amenities (2). Tomas being a Manual of deals and contracts makes him an expert and reliable source. Ralph Fitch a British merchant witnessed Portuguese go from Macao to Japan to get silver and used it as an advantage to trade in China. This shows that Europeans are having a bigger influence in the world and are getting all the goods while China is just getting silver (4). Since Spain and Portugal owned much of the silver mines in America they brought is all back to Europe were everyone profited from it and since silver can get them any goods from China we see an increase in the mining labor. Antonio Vazquez de Espinosa a Spanish priest describes how the mineworkers were severely over worked and how the Spanish were able to get so much silver from it (6). Being a Spanish priest he dislikes slaves and natives because he sees them as animals.

Along with economic changes the global trade of silver also brought the increase in social inequality. Antonia Vaques de Espinosa a Spanish priest described how the Indians would work extremely hard to mine the silver yet they were only feeding the pockets of the Europeans and none of the wealth actually went to themselves (6). In China Wang Xijue said that the government required taxes to be paid in silver but they weren’t repaying any of the silver thus the peasant class suffered while the elites still had silver (3). Xu Dunqui noticed that since China went from a bartering economy to a silver currency economy we see that bills have to be paid in silver (5). As a consequence of the elite having most of the silver and the peasants having nothing at all we see them having t obtain it from a money lender which just puts the people deeper in debt and creates greater social inequality. An additional document showing the enrollment of people into Confucian school would help analyze the social effects of silver trade because it would show how many people could still afford to go to school.

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