Forced Loans in the Spanish Empire: The First Requisition of American Treasures in 1523

31 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2019

See all articles by Sergio Sardone

Sergio Sardone

University of Naples Federico II; Bocconi University

Date Written: February 2019

Abstract

This article describes the policy of forced loans, employed in Spain by Charles V to solve the principal financial crises of the Royal Treasury and to fund the main military campaigns of the Habsburg Empire. Specifically, this study is focused on the first requisition of private American treasures—the earliest case of this in European history—which were expropriated in 1523 by the Casa de la Contratación (House of Trade) of Seville to finance the campaign of Fuenterrabía against the French army. The analysis of exceptional archival sources provides details of all the forced loans imposed on the holders of remittances (primarily gold) and the conditions for extinguishing the debts without causing harmful consequences to Atlantic traders. The article challenges the widespread view of the confiscations as an attack on property rights and overly simplistic ideas about the supposedly ‘highly absolutistic’ or predatory policies attributed to the Crown of Castile in some of the economic historiography.

Suggested Citation

Sardone, Sergio, Forced Loans in the Spanish Empire: The First Requisition of American Treasures in 1523 (February 2019). The Economic History Review, Vol. 72, Issue 1, pp. 57-87, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3317725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12604

Sergio Sardone (Contact Author)

University of Naples Federico II ( email )

via Cinthia, 4
Naples, Caserta 80126
Italy

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

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