are always warmly welcome -

10 July 2005

The Spanish Lake and the global economy, 1500-1800

"On the surface, the Manila Galleon trade was a simple shuttle trade running back and forth yearly between the Philippines (first Cebu, then Manila) and Acapulco. The number of galleons involved in each crossing varied from one to as many as four, and, after considerable trial and error and at much human and material cost (many vessels were lost at sea during the history of the trade) both the eastward and westward Pacific routes became relatively standardized.

What of the galleons themselves? They were state-of-the-art vessels when the Manila-Acapulco trade commenced. Developed by naval architects around 1550, galleons were three or four-masted, high-forecastle-and-poop vessels that could run to over two-thousand-tons cargo capacity, although most were somewhat smaller, often running in the seven-hundred to one-thousand-ton range. [...] contemporaries often referred to the galleons as the China ships (naos de China) because the trade, for all intents and purposes, revolved around the exchange of silk and other Chinoiserie for Spanish silver mined in the Americas. In actuality, then, the Manila-Acapulco trade was not a shuttle trade at all, and Manila in particular was little more than a way station and transshipment point for Spanish silver on its way to China."

a paper by Peter A. Coclanis

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