1571

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Silver Production Quadruples as the Miners Go Mad

With the discovery of mercury deposits relatively near a major silver mine in northern Peru (modern day Bolivia), the Spaniards have been experimenting with using mercury to process silver. It is called the Patio process. It involves spreading the silver ore on a patio and mixing in copper ore, salt and mercury. The mules are forced to walk over the mixture, crushing it into a powder. I can't adequately describe what happens next, but the silver is dissolved in mercury and then distilled out of the mercury. (I can assure you that it is a dangerous process and should only be attempted by experts. I'm not kidding.) Nevertheless, for the Spaniards the results are well worth the effort. The output of silver multiplies four-fold. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI: the Ottoman Turks are going to suffer a lot of economic grief as the silver comes flooding in. It won't take long before the silver reserves in Europe double. Regarding the danger of mercury... have you ever wondered why the Mad Hatter in the Alice in Wonderland story was mad? In those days hats were made using a process that involved mercury. Overexposure to mercury damages the brain causing madness. A related problem occurs with lead poisoning... like when you build an indoor firing range and fail to adequately ventilate it. Breathing lead fumes is considered bad for you. These heavy metals can be useful but under certain conditions they become dangerous. Very dangerous.

Western Europe Lives or Dies Today, October 7th, 1571

It's the Christian coalition vs the Ottoman Turks in a grudge match for all the marbles. If Spain and the Venetians can't block the Ottomans before they get to Malta then all points west will be open to invasion. As the Ottoman fleet launches from the Greek Island of Lepanto (leh-PAN-tow), the naval strength of Spain, Venice and the Pope are brought to bear, led by Don Juan, the half brother of King Philip the 2nd of Spain. The air is filled with sail and mast, cannonball and musket fire. The waters are awash with blood and bodies as ships collide for the melee (MAY-lay). 40,000 men die that day. 30,000 of them are Ottomans. Three-fourths of the Ottoman navy is obliterated and many of their men are taken as slaves. A few escape. The Ottomans will never again threaten Western Europe by sea. [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Battle of Lepanto (leh-PAN-tow) was one the greatest battles of all time, right up there with George Washington's Battle of Yorktown which decisively ended the American Revolutionary War. (FYI... the Americans won.) The Island of Malta also figured into this battle. Malta has always been a strategic choke point in the Mediterranean. If you look at a map you can see why. During World War II the Germans tried to take Malta, but they were thwarted by a small British force using obsolete planes. It is still considered something of a miracle. I left out so much of this critical battle that I feel guilty. I recommend Buck Sexton's excellent podcast on the Battle of Lepanto. You can find a link to it below. [6] [7]

The Royal Exchange Opens... Alcohol Served Regularly *

The first English stock exchange is opened by Queen Elizabeth the 1st, at the behest of Sir Thomas Gresham. The deal is that the government buys the land and he builds the building for the exchange. As it turns out, Sir Gresham is making so much money renting out the upper story that it's a pretty good deal for him. The Queen also grants a license to sell alcohol on the premises. Stockbrokers are discouraged from visiting the new stock exchange. Apparently they are simply too rude for words. They will conduct their business in local coffeehouses and such. Sir Gresham will also establish banks that make recognizable loans. All of this will make England the financial capital of the European world in short order. [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Sir Thomas Gresham is best remembered for Gresham's Law which is "Bad money drives out the good." As with many such laws, the man never said it. He did encourage the Queen to restore the integrity of the money supply because whenever the government debased the coinage, the coins with more gold or silver in them suddenly went overseas or were hidden in cans under the bed until the people could get full value for their money. [11]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1571, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Potosí (Silver Mines of Colonial Peru). Epic World History (May 2012). Retrieved on 5 May 2015. “The first mercury mines at Huancavelica were discovered in 1559; others came into operation soon after. In 1571, after numerous trials, the Spanish perfected the techniques for refining Potosí's silver ore with Huancavelica's mercury, prompting Viceroy Francisco de Toledo to gush that the union of the two mines would create the world's greatest marriage.”
  2. Silver Processing. Encyclopedia Britannica (2015). Retrieved on 6 May 2015. “For the recovery of New World silver, the Patio process was employed. Silver-bearing ore was ground and then mixed with salt, roasted copper ore, and mercury. The mixing was accomplished by tethering mules to a central post on a paved patio (hence the name of the process) and compelling them to walk in a circle through the mixture. The silver was gradually converted to the elemental state in a very finely divided form, from which it was dissolved by the mercury. Periodically, the mercury was collected and distilled to recover the silver, and this was subsequently refined by cupellation.”
  3. melee - definition of melee. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 7 May 2015. “A confused struggle or fight at close quarters.”
  4. Battle of Lepanto - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 May 2015. “The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, led by Spain decisively defeated the fleet of the Ottoman Empire on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece.”
  5. John of Austria - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 7 May 2015. “He became a military leader in the service of his half-brother, Philip of Spain and is best known for his naval victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 against the Ottoman Empire.”
  6. Siege of Yorktown - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 6 May 2015. “The Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Yorktown, Surrender at Yorktown or German Battle, ending on October 19, 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia, was a decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by British lord and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. The culmination of the Yorktown campaign, the siege proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in the North American theater, as the surrender by Cornwallis, and the capture of both him and his army, prompted the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict.”
  7. The Battle of Lepanto (PODCAST). The Buck Sexton Show. The Blaze Radio Network (October 7, 2014). Retrieved on November 13, 2014.
  8. Royal Exchange, London - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 5 May 2015. “The Royal Exchange was officially opened on 23 January 1571 by Queen Elizabeth I who awarded the building its royal title and a licence to sell alcohol.”
  9. 1571: Royal Exchange sees trade flourish. BBC (2015). Retrieved on 7 May 2015. “Sir Thomas Gresham, known as the father of English banking, sets up the Royal Exchange -- the first purpose-built centre for trading stocks in London.”
  10. Royal Exchange, London. WalkLondon.com (2013). Retrieved on 7 May 2015. “Based on the Antwerp Stock Exchange (Bourse) in Belgium, Gresham’s bourse consisted of a trading floor, offices and shops around an open courtyard where merchants and traders could meet and conduct their business.”
  11. Thomas Gresham - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 7 May 2015. “Gresham's law (stated simply as: 'Bad money drives out good') takes its name from him (although others, including the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, had recognised the concept for years) because he urged Queen Elizabeth to restore the debased currency of England. However, Sir Thomas never formulated anything like Gresham's Law, which was the 1857 invention of Henry Dunning Macleod, an economist with a knack for reading into a text that which was not written.”

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