A viceroyalty of silver between two oceans

Peru and the beginnings of Global History

Add to calendar 2021-06-10 17:00 2021-06-10 18:15 Europe/Paris A viceroyalty of silver between two oceans Via Zoom YYYY-MM-DD


10 June 2021

17:00 - 18:15 CEST


Via Zoom

Lecture by Margarita Suárez, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

Languages: Spanish, English

The lecture will be delivered in Spanish

The discovery of a mining center as rich as Potosí sealed the fate of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which would be since then one of the nodes of the circuits of precious metals in the globe. From then on, the expression it is worth a Peru or it is worth a Potosí would become very popular in the realms of trade and literature. Moreover, for several decades, Potosí’s silver contributed to nurture the illusion that the Spanish conglomerate could remain united, despite distance and the sustained actions of Spain's enemies. Likewise, the abundance of Potosí’s piece of eight turned it into the first and only globally accepted currency, without which it would be impossible to access any market. Historians have emphasized the importance of the New World's silver to explain the European processes and their connections with the East, thus characterizing America as a provider of precious metals, in the so-called Great Divergence. However, the production and circulation of metals favored the participation of the American viceroyalty in imperial Spanish politics, while it fostered the development of the same mercantile and financial mechanisms used in the Old World since very early dates. The characterization of Peru (and America) as a producer of precious metals reduces the complexity of the viceregal networks, which was versatile, complex, and very interconnected. This lecture is intended to show how Lima and its peruleros participated in the circuits of silver that connected the Andean viceroyalty with the rest of the world from the 16th century until the end of the galleons’ system.

About the project:

Colonial legacies, invisible institutions, and financial markets in Latin America (and beyond) tries to offer a general picture of the organisation and functioning of the financial systems in Colonial Spanish America from a non-Eurocentric perspective. By bringing together scholars who have devoted attention to the alternative financial mechanisms and institutions in the Spanish Empire, the project is intended to question the assumption of financial systems with little sophistication and poor performance compared to North-Western European ones.



Regina Grafe

Inigo Ena Sanjuan (EUI)


Margarita Suarez (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

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