Legislating, Decision-Making, Practice and Education
Edited by Mary Hiscock and William van Caenegem
Chapter 9: Lawyers in Magellan’s World
John O. Haley* MAGELLAN’S WORLD: IN THE BEGINNING In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator in the service of the Spanish Crown, set sail from Seville on a voyage with historic consequences as the first known circumnavigation of the globe. He crossed the Atlantic from Sierra Leone to Argentina, then through the straits that today bear his name, across the Pacific, ultimately landing at Cebu in what are today the Philippines in April 1521. A few weeks later he was killed nearby. Four decades later in 1565, the Spanish Crown added the Philippines to its American empire. The new colony was incorporated into the Viceroyalty of New Spain and governed from Mexico City. Manila, the new capital city of the Philippines, soon became one of the world’s great entrepôts. The ensuing commercial relationship between Ming China and the Hapsburg Empire in Europe via the Castilian Crown’s American empire had profound global consequences. The story of the Manila galleons and Spain’s semi-annual flotas or convoys is well known. American silver, principally from the Petosi mines in Peru (now Bolivia), was exchanged for Chinese gold at a rate that, relative to the prevailing rate in Europe, made possible and profitable the transport of silver first from Peru to Mexico then across the Pacific to Manila and the return shipment of gold back across the Pacific again to Mexico, to be unloaded on the Pacific coast, transported overland to Veracruz, reloaded on ships bound for Seville or Cadiz, then on to Spain...
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