Book

New World Gold

Elvira Vilches

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226856186
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226856193 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226856193.001.0001
New World Gold

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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The discovery of the New World was initially a cause for celebration, but the vast amounts of gold that Christopher Columbus and other explorers claimed from these lands altered Spanish society. The influx of such wealth contributed to the expansion of the Spanish empire, but it also raised doubts and insecurities about the meaning and function of money, the ideals of court and civility, and the structure of commerce and credit. This book shows that, far from being a stabilizing force, the flow of gold from the Americas created anxieties among Spaniards and shaped a host of distinct behaviors, cultural practices, and intellectual pursuits on both sides of the Atlantic. It examines economic treatises, stories of travel and conquest, moralist writings, fiction, poetry, and drama to reveal that New World gold ultimately became a problematic source of power that destabilized Spain's sense of trust, truth, and worth. These cultural anxieties, the book argues, rendered the discovery of gold paradoxically disastrous for Spanish society.

Keywords: New World; wealth; Spanish empire; money; gold; Spain; court; civility; commerce; credit

Book.  373 pages. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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