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Old July 1st, 2012, 10:45 AM   #2
Pierre Galafassi
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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Hi Filiberto,

It is indeed difficult to compare the value of gold or silver between the Renaissance and today.
It seems safe enough though to assume that at least until the end of the fifteenth century there was a permanent shortage of silver and gold in Occident, since the trade balance was generally very favorable to the Orient and the major known sources of these metals were either located in Moslem territory or controlled by Moslem merchants. Thus gold and silver must have had a very high buying power in Occident.

Things started to look different only after 1480:
First the Portuguese made an increasingly significant dent in the Arab monopoly for the gold from Sudan, draining gold caravans to their own trading post of Sao Jorge da Mina on the coast of western Africa.

Then Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec Empire and Mexico in 1519-1521 and exploited huge silver mines in the area of San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato and Taxco which production soon dwarfed anything known until then in the world.
Cortés was soon followed by Francisco Pizarro and Diego Almagro, who conquered the Inca Empire in 1533, equally rich with silver (the huge Potosi mine in what is now Bolivia for example) but also with gold. (The ransom of the Inca Atahualpa, a room filled with gold, is famous).
As, at about the same time, the balance of trade between Occident and Islam also turned in favor of the former, the buying value of gold and silver must have fluctuated quite dramatically during the first half of the sixteenth century.

Best regards
Pierre
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