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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Industrial wealth of Seville

style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XXVIII


[Sidenote: Comparative backwardness of Spain in economic development.]

While this era was marked by a brief period of prosperity, and while there was a noteworthy advance out of medievalism in the evolution of mercantile machinery, the keynote of the times was the failure of Spain to keep pace in material welfare with her high standing in other aspects of life. Spain continued to be a raw material country, although artificial attempts were still made to create a thriving industrial development. These efforts, when they did not fail altogether, accrued to the advantage of foreigners or resulted in establishments which were of slight consequence in comparison with those of other European lands. A combination of evils at length sank Spain to such a state of economic degradation and misery as comported ill with her political reputation in European affairs and with the opportunities she had had and failed to employ to advantage. Nevertheless, Spain's decadence, overwhelming though it was, is to be viewed from a relative standpoint. Medieval Spain at its best, except possibly during the Moslem era, did not attain to an equally flourishing state with the Spain of the seventeenth century, which marks the lowest point to which she has fallen in modern times. On the other hand, with relation to other countries

in the seventeenth century and with due regard to the needs which an expanded civilization had by that time developed, Spain came to be economically about the most backward land in western Europe. This occurred, in spite of the fact that Spaniards found and developed such extraordinary wealth in their new world possessions that their colonies were the envy of Europe. Spain did indeed get rich returns from her overseas investment, but these funds and others were squandered in the ways which have already been pointed out.

[Sidenote: Relative prosperity in the early years of the era.]

[Sidenote: The American trade.]

[Sidenote: Industrial wealth of Seville.]

[Sidenote: Grazing.]

[Sidenote: Fishing.]

[Sidenote: Mining.]

At the outset there was a period of undoubted prosperity, due in part to a continuation of the favoring legislation of the era of the Catholic Kings, but more particularly to the enormously increased demand resulting from the rapid and extensive colonization of the Americas, whose commerce was restricted by law to favored regions of the Spanish kingdom. The American trade and to some extent the considerable fortunes gained in the colonies themselves provided capital for a yet further expansion of the industrial wealth of the peninsula. The effects were felt principally in Castile, but were reflected also in Aragon and Valencia. Seville, as the sole port of the American trade, became extraordinarily rich in its industrial life, and many other cities shared in the general prosperity. Woollen goods and silks were manufactured on a large

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