Thursday, May 7, 2015

History: The Year is 1571

I've uploaded year 1571 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Silver Production Quadruples as the Miners Go Mad -- The Spaniards begin using mercury to process their silver ore. It increases production but the heavy metals cause brain damage in the miners.

Western Europe Lives or Dies Today, October 7th, 1571 -- This is a battle for the existence of Western Europe as we know it. It is one of the greatest battles of all time.

The Royal Exchange Opens... Alcohol Served Regularly -- Here comes Gresham's Law on bad money chasing out the good... except that he never said it.

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]
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. [10]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1571, Wikipedia.

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