Bernardini - Chapter 22 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

Bernardini - Chapter 22

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New Christians and Jews in the Sugar Trade, 1550–1750

Two Centuries of Development of the Atlantic Economy

SCHOLARS HAVE LONG BEEN AWARE of the salient role New Christians of Portugal and their Sephardi relatives in Holland, England, France, and the Baltic region played in the development of the Atlantic sugar trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.1 For New Christian merchants of the Iberian Peninsula, the Americas, and the Far East, however, sugar was but one element in a global trading network. To be sure, from the early sixteenth century, sugar and sugar trading were important elements in the complex trade. Indeed, many of the leading merchant families of Lisbon, Oporto, and other Portuguese seaports achieved their fortunes through sugar plantation and mill development in Pernambuco, Bahia, and the southern captaincies of Brazil, as well as through the introduction of slaves into Brazil and Spanish America. In the latter half of the sixteenth century, sugar became the springboard to greater commercial activities and wealth. The wealthier New Christians invested in Asian trading to augment their fortunes. In turn, the Asian trade yielded goods marketable primarily in western Africa and the American tropics.2 Finally, by the early seventeenth century, fortunes amassed initially in sugar trading had propelled a limited number of New Christians into the role of financiers of the Spanish Habsburgs and had thus enabled them to play a major part in European exchange.3

New Christians and Jews in the Sugar Trade, 1550–1750Two Centuries of Development of the Atlantic EconomyJames C. BoyajianSCHOLARS HAVE LONG BEEN AWARE of the salient role New Christians of Portugal and their Sephardi relatives in Holland, En
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