Imperial economies

Authored by: José L. Gasch-Tomás , Susana Münch Miranda

The Iberian World

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138921016
eBook ISBN: 9780429283697
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter presents an overview of the overseas Iberian empires’ economic systems and its main trends over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It outlines the type of productive structures dominant in each empire and examines the exchanges and connections within the two Iberian empires, and between the Iberian empires and the rest of the world. The first section of the chapter briefly discusses the motivations for the Iberian overseas expansion. The second section analyses the economic structures of the territories under colonial rule. It highlights the factors that shaped economic activity, such as pre-existing local conditions, goals pursued, and the institutional frameworks regulating land ownership and labour, considering changes and shifts that both empires underwent across time and space. The third section takes up the Iberian commercial networks across the world and discusses their role as drivers of globalisation. It deals with the well-known intercontinental routes of Carrera de Indias and Carreira da Índia, while also examining the role of American silver in global trade. The last section looks into the impact of the Iberian transoceanic flows in the domestic economies.

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