Potosi: The Silver City That Changed the World

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Univ of California Press, May 28, 2019 - History - 272 pages
In 1545, a native Andean prospector hit pay dirt on a desolate red mountain in highland Bolivia. There followed the world's greatest silver bonanza, making the Cerro Rico or "Rich Hill" and the Imperial Villa of Potosí instant legends, famous from Istanbul to Beijing. The Cerro Rico alone provided over half of the world's silver for a century, and even in decline, it remained the single richest source on earth.
 
Potosí is the first interpretive history of the fabled mining city’s rise and fall. It tells the story of global economic transformation and the environmental and social impact of rampant colonial exploitation from Potosí’s startling emergence in the 16th century to its collapse in the 19th. Throughout, Kris Lane’s invigorating narrative offers rare details of this thriving city and its promise of prosperity. A new world of native workers, market women, African slaves, and other ordinary residents who lived alongside the elite merchants, refinery owners, wealthy widows, and crown officials, emerge in lively, riveting stories from the original sources. An engrossing depiction of excess and devastation, Potosí reveals the relentless human tradition in boom times and bust.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Potosís share of Greater Perus silver production ca 15451810
8
Cerro de Potosí Pedro de Cieza de León Crónica del Peru 1553
10
The Cerro Rico of Potosí TarihI HindI Garbi manuscript ca 1582
12
Chinese world map by Matteo Ricci and Li Zhizou ca 1602
16
Bonanza
20
Geological crosssection of the Cerro Rico de Potosí
25
Interior mine scene Theodor de Bry America Part IX 1601
33
An Improbable Global City
92
Miracle of the Mill Stamps ca 1603 Alonso Ramos Gavilán Historia del Célebre Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana
97
Spanish playing cards Seville 1647
110
Potosí ca 1630 Francisco López de Caravantes
118
Potosí silver bar from wreck of the Atocha 1622
129
Potosí as city of windmills Arnoldus Montanus America 1671
139
Portrait of Antonio López de Quiroga
147
Historia de la Villa Imperial de Potosí Bartolomé Arzáns de Orsúa
153

Cerro Rico with idealized mines and drainage adit after Bakewell
35
Age of Wind Age of Iron
46
Estos yndios estanguayrando ca 1603
47
Coca vendor Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala ca 1615
62
The Viceroys Great Machine
67
La Villa Rica Enperial de Potocchi Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala ca 1615
68
Viceroy Francisco de Toledo Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala ca 1615
70
Cerro Rico and silver refinery ca 1603
80
Potosís registered silver output vs coin mintage in pesos ca 15701810
86
From Revival to Revolution
158
Villa Imperial de Potosí y Serro Rico con 21 lagunas ca 175575
164
View of the Cerro de Potosí with Berrío adit at left ca 1779
176
Summing Up
181
El Tío guardian of the underworld 1995
184
Voices
197
List of Illustrations
212
Bibliographical Essay
229
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Kris Lane holds the France V. Scholes Chair in Colonial Latin American History at Tulane University. He is author of Colour of Paradise: The Emerald in the Age of Gunpowder Empires, Quito 1599: City and Colony in Transition, and Pillaging the Empire: Global Piracy on the High Seas, 1500-1750.
 

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