This book aims to articulate a contribution to, and revises, the traditional understanding of the Atlantic World by emphasising the historical connections between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, and the importance of Spanish America in those connections. It explores the degree to which the colonial Spanish American elite and cities were main components of the economic and cultural encounter between the Spanish Empire and East Asia in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the reason why the Manila Galleon route was superseded by the Cape route as the main venue of exchange between the Atlantic World and Asia around the mid-seventeenth century. This book studies the historical factors that fostered trade from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic World in the late sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century. Among those factors, there were the commoditisation of, and growing taste for, Asian goods in Spanish America, the strengthening position of Mexican merchants in the Spanish Empire, and the orientation of Manila’s economy toward international trade and strong commitment of the Chinese economy to silver. The book also analyses how growing international conflicts both in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and the delicate balance of powers within the Spanish Empire, weakened the trans-Pacific trade and gave way to the rise of the Cape route.
Map: Some main entrepôts where Asian goods-for-silver exchanges were conducted, c. 1565–1650