1688: A Global History

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Overview

"A totally absorbing book...imaginative and erudite, full of startling juxtapositions and flashes of real perception."—Jonathan D. Spence
John E. Wills's masterful history ushers us into the worlds of 1688, from the suicidal exaltation of Russian Old Believers to the ravishing voice of the haiku poet Basho. Witness the splendor of the Chinese imperial court as the Kangxi emperor publicly mourns the death of his grandmother and shrewdly consolidates his power. Join the great caravans of Muslims on their annual pilgrimage from Damascus and Cairo to Mecca. Walk the pungent streets of Amsterdam and enter the Rasp House, where vagrants, beggars, and petty criminals labored to produce powdered brazilwood for the dyeworks. Through these stories and many others, Wills paints a detailed picture of how the global connections of power, money, and belief were beginning to lend the world its modern form. "A vivid picture of life in 1688...filled with terrifying violence, frightening diseases...comfortingly familiar human kindnesses...and the intellectual achievements of Leibniz, Locke, and Newton."—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Tom Engelhardt
Wills has pulled from the raging silence of history a modest but roiling mass of transnational humanity, and so reminded us that we've been a globalizing planet for more than 300 years. The world of 1688 was already an economic, political, cultural and sexual entrepot, and it's been stewing away ever since.
Washington Post
Jonathan D. Spence
A totally absorbing book...imaginative and erudite, full of startling juxtapositions and flashes of real perception.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although he realizes that "the very concept of the world in a single year is an artificial one," USC historian Wills (Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History; etc.) has merged cultural anthropology and history to reflect through the prism of a single year the shape of the world poised on the edge of modernity. This ambitious effort has a number of strengths--such as the quality of its writing and its ability to weave together disparate narrative threads. But for many readers, this account's greatest strength will be what it is not--Eurocentric, limited by gender and ethnicity, confined by class. It touches on events in Africa, the New World, China, Japan, Australia and eastern and western Europe. We go from the world of the Kangxi emperor in China to that of an African Muslim slave in the New World. In constructing this multifarious history, Wills draws on sources as diverse as the correspondence of far-flung Jesuit missionaries, the records of the Dutch and English trading companies, contemporary poetry, diaries and even a ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract). Wills thus succeeds in producing a vivid picture of life in 1688--a picture filled with terrifying violence, frightening diseases and religious and political persecution, but also with comfortingly familiar human kindnesses, familial affections and the scientific and intellectual achievements of Leibniz, Locke and Newton, among others. Wills provides a satisfying, many-faceted tour of the world in 1688 that will appeal to readers with a far-ranging curiosity about the world and its history. Illus. not seen by PW. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
In an immensely readable text, John Wills has culled vignettes of 17th-century history from all corners of the globe. Wills illustrates without preaching that the history of 1688 is not necessarily Eurocentric. A verbal photo album of the commercial and political world in 1688, the short chapters (about 15 pages each) guide the reader from the busy ports of the Dutch East Indies to the imperial court of the Chinese emperor Kangxi and from Suleyman's center of power in Istanbul to Louis XIV's Versailles under the influence of Madame de Maintenon. Poets and kings, philosophers and traders, missionaries and slaves walk busily through these pages of scholarly yet highly accessible prose. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Norton, 330p. map. bibliog. index., Moore
Library Journal
Wills (history, Univ. of Southern California; Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History) has fashioned a wide-ranging, serendipitous collection of histories and accounts centered around 1688. The year occurred during a period of unprecedented exploration and exchange of ideas, and the book is at its best revealing these "global intersections." The author details Englishman William Dampier's observations of the Australian Aborigines, German herbalist Georg Everard Rumpf's studies of Indonesian plant life, Scots general Patrick Ivanovich Gordon's exploits in Imperial Russia, and Flemish Jesuit Ferdinand Verbiest's experiences in Beijing (the Society of Jesus' willingness to accept Confucianism as a secular tradition is particularly intriguing). However, passages lacking this cross-cultural perspective tend to flag, reading like anecdotal prefaces to weightier studies for which the reader will have to resort to the bibliography. The brief passages on the personal and literary struggles of Aphra Behn in England and Sor Juana In s de la Cruz in Mexico, for example, would have been improved had the two women been examined together. Nevertheless, Wills makes the most of the freedom afforded by the arbitrariness of his selections and covers a great deal of intellectual as well as geographical territory. Recommended for academic libraries.--Richard Koss, "Library Journal" Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Wills (history, U. of Southern California) views the world at the beginning of the modern era through eyes on every continent. Topics include exploration, the emergence of the first great companies (especially the Dutch East India Company), and styles and thoughts in Europe. Written in a readable, approachable manner. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393322781
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 468,850
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John E. Wills, Jr., is professor of history at the University of Southern California and the author of many acclaimed works in cultural history, including Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History.

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Read an Excerpt





Chapter One



THE EMPIRE OF SILVER


On April 28, 1688, a long procession moved out of Mexico City, along the causeways that crossed the nearby lakes, and through the small towns and farms of the plateau, on its way toward the pass between the two volcanoes Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl, both more than sixteen thousand feet high, and down to the tropical port of Vera Cruz. The farmers in their villages and fields were used to a good deal of such coming and going, but this time they stopped their work to look and to call out to each other in Nahuatl, the main indigenous language, for this was no ordinary procession. Cavalry outriders and a huge coach were followed by many baggage wagons and a long line of fine coaches. The marquis of Laguna had served as viceroy of New Spain from 1680 to 1686. With their wealth, powerful connections in Madrid, and a taste for elegance and the arts, he and his wife had given the viceregal court a few years of splendor and sophistication comparable, if not to Madrid, certainly to many of the lesser courts of Europe. Now their wealthy Spanish friends were riding in their coaches as far as the Villa de Guadalupe, seeing the marquis and marchioness off on their voyage home to Spain.


    A child born of a slave shall be received,
according to our Law, as property
of the owner to whom fealty
is rendered by the mother who conceived.
    The harvest from a grateful land retrieved,
the finest fruit, offered obediently,
is for the lord, for its fecundity
is owing to the care ithasreceived.
    So too, Lysisdivine, these my poor lines:
as children of my soul, born of my heart,
they must in justice be to you returned;
    Let not their defects cause them to be spurned,
for of your rightful due they are a part,
as concepts of a soul to yours consigned.


    These lines were written sometime later in 1688 and sent off from Mexico to the marchioness of Laguna in Spain. They make use of metaphors and classical conceits to express and conceal the feelings of the author, who had lost, with the marchioness's departure, the object of the nearest thing she had ever known to true love and, with the marquis's departure, her ultimate protection from those who found her opinions and her way of life scandalous. The trouble was not that the author was lesbian—although her feelings toward men and women were unusually complicated and unconventional, anything approaching a physical relation or even passion is most unlikely—but that she was a cloistered Hieronymite nun, who read and studied a wide range of secular books, held long intellectual conversations with many friends, wrote constantly in a variety of religious and secular styles, and betrayed in her writings sympathy for Hermetic and Neoplatonic views that were on the edge of heresy if not beyond it. Her name in religion was Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. She is recognized today as one of the great poets in the history of the Spanish language.

    Mexico in the 1680s was a society of dramatic contradictions. The elegant viceregal court and the opulent ecclesiastical hierarchy looked toward Europe for style and ideas. The vast majority of the population sought to preserve as much as possible of the language, beliefs, and ways of life that had guided them before the coming of the Spaniards; the worship of the Virgin of Guadalupe, for example, owed much to the shrine of an Aztec goddess that had been the setting of the original appearance of the Virgin to a Mexican peasant. In between the "peninsular" elite and the "Indians," the native-born "creoles" of Spanish language and culture managed huge cattle ranches and sought constantly new veins of profitable silver ore and new techniques to exploit old ones. Neither "Spanish" nor "Indian," they experienced the full force of the contradictions of Mexican society and culture.

    The literary world in which Sor Juana was such an anomalous eminence thrived on these contradictions of society and culture. This was a baroque culture. The word "baroque," originating as a Portuguese term for the peculiar beauty of a deformed, uneven pearl, suggests a range of artistic styles in which the balance and harmony of the Renaissance styles are abandoned for imbalance, free elaboration of form, playful gesture, and surprising allusion, through which the most intense of emotions and the darkest of realities may be glimpsed, their power enhanced by the glittering surface that partially conceals them. Contradiction and its partial, playful reconciliation are the stuff of the baroque style. So is the layering of illusion on illusion, meaning upon meaning. And what more baroque conceit could be imagined than the literary eminence of a cloistered nun in a rough frontier society, with a church and state of the strongest and narrowest male supremacist prejudices? Look again at the poem quoted earlier: The chaste nun refers to her poem as her child or the harvest from a grateful land. She declares her love once again to the departed marchioness.

    Sor Juana was a product of Mexican creole society, born on a ranch on the shoulder of the great volcano Popocatépetl. Her mother was illiterate and very probably had not been married to her father. But some of the family branches lived in the city, with good books and advantageous connections. As soon as she discovered the books in her grandfather's library, she was consumed with a thirst for solitude and reading. Her extraordinary talents for literature and learning were recognized. When she was fifteen, in 1664, she was taken into the household of a newly arrived viceroy, as his wife's favorite and constant companion. She must have enjoyed the attention, the luxury, the admiration of her cleverness. She no doubt participated in the highly stylized exchange of "gallantries" between young men and young women. But she had no dowry. Solitude was her natural habitat. As a wife and mother, what chance would she have to read, to write, to be alone? In 1668 she took her vows in the Hieronymite convent of an order named after Saint Jerome, cloistered and meditative by rule.

    This was a big decision, but less drastic than one might think. Certainly she was a believing Catholic. Her new status did not require total devotion to prayer and extinction of self. It did not imply that she was abandoning all the friendships and secular learning that meant so much to her. The nuns had a daily round of collective devotions; but many rules were not fully honored, and the regimen left her much free time for reading and writing. Each of the nuns had comfortable private quarters, with a kitchen, room for a bathtub, and sleeping space for a servant and a dependent or two; Sor Juana usually had one slave and one or two nieces or other junior dependents living in her quarters. The nuns visited back and forth in their quarters to the point that Sor Juana complained of the interruptions to her reading and writing, but outsiders spoke to the nuns only in the locutory especially provided for that purpose. From the beginning she turned the locutory into an elegant salon, as the viceroy and his lady and other fashionable people came to visit her and they passed hours in learned debate, literary improvisation, and gossip.

    One of Sor Juana's most constant friends and supporters was Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, professor of mathematics at the University of Mexico, an eminently learned creole scholar whose position was almost as anomalous as hers. He had been educated by the Jesuits and had longed to be one of them but had been expelled from their college. He had managed to obtain his position, without a university degree, by demonstrating his superior knowledge of his subject. He had added Góngora to his name to emphasize his distant kinship, through his mother's family, with the most famous of Spain's baroque poets. But he always felt insecure among the European-born professors, churchmen, and high officials. He wrote a great deal, much of it about the history of Mexico. He was in no way Sor Juana's equal as a writer, but he probably was responsible for most of her smattering of knowledge of modern science and recent philosophy.

    There was a rule of poverty among the Hieronymites, but it was generally ignored. Sor Juana received many gifts, some of them substantial enough to enable the former dowerless girl to invest money at interest. By gift and purchase she built up a library of about four thousand volumes and a small collection of scientific instruments, probably provided by Sigüenza. Her reading was broad but not very systematic, contributing to the stock of ideas and allusions she drew on constantly in her writings but giving her little sense of the intellectual tensions and transformations that were building up in Europe. She wrote constantly, in a wide variety of complex and exacting forms. Voluntarily or upon commission or request, she wrote occasional poems of all kinds for her friends and patrons. A celebration might call for a loa, a brief theatrical piece in praise of a dignitary. In one of hers, for example, a character "clad in sunrays" declares:


I am a reflection
of that blazing sun
who, among shining rays
numbers brilliant sons:
when his illustrious rays
strike a speculum,
on it is portrayed
the likeness of his form.


    Sor Juana's standing in society reached a new height with the arrival in 1680 of the marquis and marchioness of Laguna. Even in the public festivities celebrating their arrival, she outdid herself in baroque elaborations of texts and conceits for a temporary triumphal arch erected at the cathedral. It was an allegory on Neptune, in which the deeds of the Greek god were compared to the real or imaginary deeds of the marquis. Much was made of the echoes among the marquis's title of Laguna, meaning "lake," Neptune's reign over the oceans, and the origins of Mexico City as the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan in the middle of its great lake: an elaborate union of sycophancy to a ruler, somewhat strained classical allusion, and a creole quest for a Mexican identity. In parts of the text the author even drew in Isis as an ancestor of Neptune, and in others of her works from this time she showed a great interest in Egyptian antiquity as it was then understood, including the belief that the god Hermes Trismegistus had revealed the most ancient and purest wisdom and anticipated the Mosaic and Christian revelations. These ideas, the accompanying quasi-Platonic separation of soul and body, and her use of them to imply that a female or androgynous condition was closer to the divine wisdom than the male took her to the edge of heresy or beyond and was turned against her in later years.

    Sor Juana soon established a close friendship with the marchioness of Laguna. Some of the poems she sent her are among her very finest, and they are unmistakably love poems. Some of them accompanied a portrait of the author. Several portraits in which a very handsome woman gazes boldly at us, her black-and-white habit simply setting off her own strength and elegance, have come down to us.


And if it is that you should rue
the absence of a soul in me [the portrait],
you can confer one, easily,
from the many rendered you:
and as my soul I [Sor Juana] tendered you,
and though my being yours obeyed,
and though you look on me amazed
in this insentient apathy,
you are the soul of this body,
and are the body of this shade.


    The marquis of Laguna stepped down as viceroy in 1686 but remained in Mexico until 1688. In that year Sot Juana was very busy. The marchioness was taking texts of her poems back to Spain, where they soon would be published. She added to them a play, The Divine Narcissus, interweaving the legend of Narcissus and the life of Jesus, which probably was performed in Madrid in 1689 or 1690. Her niece took her vows in the convent in 1688. Late in the year, after her noble friends had left, she wrote the poem quoted earlier as well as a romantic comedy, Love Is the Greater Labyrinth, which was performed in Mexico City early in 1689.

    A large collection of her poetry was published in Madrid in 1689. The next year in Mexico she published a letter taking abstruse issue with a sermon preached decades before by the famous Portuguese Jesuit Antonio Vieira. Her casual way with the rules of the religious life, her flirtings with heresy, her many writings in secular forms with intimations of understanding of love inappropriate to her profession had made her many enemies, but they could do nothing while the marquis of Laguna and his lady were on hand to protect her. Now they closed in. In 1694 she was forced formally to renounce all writing and humane studies and to relinquish her library and collection of scientific instruments. In 1695 she devotedly cared for her sisters in the convent during an epidemic, caught the disease, and died.


Mexico City was the seat of one of the Spanish viceroys in the Americas; the other was in Lima. The viceroys, always nobles sent from Spain, ruled in splendor, literally "in place of the king." Reporting to them were the governors of various provinces. University-trained lawyers shaped the decision-making process at every stage; it was very thorough and very slow. It did a respectable job of keeping control of key lines of trade and taxation and of preventing the accumulation by any colonial official of too much independent power. The centralized structure of the Roman Catholic Church and its many orders added more layers of organizational strength. Centers of Spanish settlement and power gained continuity and cohesion by petitioning the king for the legal privileges of citizens and a local city council in the European manner.

    The Spanish-speaking population of the Americas in 1688 included many modest people lake Sot Juana's rural relatives—people who farmed, traded, mined; people who, though not idle or necessarily rich, did all they could to hire or compel others, often indigenous people on the margins of the Spanish-speaking world, to do the heavy work. The Spanish monarchy often proclaimed that it maintained its American empire in order to save souls, and certainly it gave great support to missionary efforts; but it also worked diligently to tap the wealth of the Americas for its own purposes—most of all its silver.

    In commerce and in politics, precious metals mattered enormously to Europeans of the 1600s, for the settling of accounts among merchants and rulers in different countries, for paying troops, including mercenaries, for bribing monarchs and officials—wherever mistrust or secrecy made bills of credit unusable. But their appeal was more than rational. Seventeenth-century Europeans could be driven mad by thoughts of gold and silver. As "noble metals," subject to only very slow oxidation or other chemical change, they were symbols of resistance to decay, even of eternity. Many of the most advanced scientists of the world of 1688 still were interested in alchemy, although they often claimed that their interest was philosophical, not stemming from greed for gold.

    So it is not surprising that Europe was fascinated by reports of the "mountain of silver" at Potosi (in modern Bolivia), the main source of the stream of treasure from the New World that made the king of Spain immensely rich and powerful. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Potosí usually produced more silver than the two great Mexican producing districts combined. Silver pesos from the American mints circulated all over Europe and in many ports and coastal districts of Asia. In the dock districts of Amsterdam, in between bouts of drinking, whoring, and telling lies about every port in the world, sailors would join in a chorus in celebration of the greatest of attacks on the Spanish silver fleet, one of the few real successes in the Dutch West India Company's efforts to carry the war against the Spanish-Portuguese monarchy to the Americas, in 1628: "Piet Heyn! Piet Heyn! All praised is his name! ... For he captured the silver fleet!"


In the early eighteenth century Bartolomé Arzáns de Orsúa y Vela, a native of Potosí, wrote a monumental history of his native city. It is an amalgam of empirical information about its government and society and wonderful stories of passion, violence, divine retribution, miracles, and witchcraft, assembled from other local authors and tales passed down generation to generation. Under the year 1688 he records the adventures of a young woman of good family whom he had known personally. Perhaps he had been in love with her:


Her face was like white marble, her hair the proper mean, for it was neither as dark as night nor as golden as the sun; green eyes, with lashes so long that they seemed to serve them as a canopy, and so luxuriant that they seemed like a fence protecting her eyes or like an ebony frame and embellishment to her face; her brows also luxuriant, broad, and so close together that there was no separation between them; her nose so perfect that it was not a whit too small or too large; her cheeks and brow adorned with charming ringlets, which, falling over her face, grudgingly allowed a little crimson to show in an expanse of snowy whiteness; her mouth small and adorned with small, white, and even teeth; her hands, bust, and waist all in graceful proportion; a winning charm in her manner and grace in her walk; her voice (which is often an added embellishment of beauty) soft, sweet, and resonant; and her intelligence clear, keen, and extremely prudent.


She was called Doña Teresa; she was only fifteen.


    Who, asks our author, could have failed to fall in love with this wonderful creature? Two suitors managed to make their interest known to her, one a married, wealthy mercury refiner, the other an outsider using the apparently bogus title Count of Olmos. But Doña Teresa's parents kept her even more strictly confined than was the norm for young ladies of her class; "On many Sundays and feast days they did not even take her to hear Mass." Thus she was deprived even of that small measure of freedom that "would not have exceeded the bounds of her natural chastity and modesty.... Now, freedom is one of the most precious gifts conferred by Heaven on human beings; the treasures enclosed in the earth or hidden in the sea are not to be compared with it; men can and must risk life itself for freedom, as for honor, and, conversely, the greatest misfortune that can befall mankind is captivity."

    The mercury refiner persuaded Doña Teresa's parents to let the girl accompany his wife to various festivities but never got the chance he was hoping for to be alone with her and seduce her. The "Count of Olmos" moved into a house across the street from hers and secretly watched her comings and goings; once she learned of his love, they agreed to talk at night, he at his balcony and she at her window, above the narrow street. It seems that once or twice they were able to converse in her room, but their growing love was never consummated. Finally she agreed to climb down knotted sheets and go with him to his house but fell. She somehow managed to get back in her bedroom before her parents found out.

    The mercury refiner now realized he had a rival and told Doña Teresa's mother, who beat an Indian maidservant until she told all. The mother then beat Teresa until the blood ran and locked her in a chicken coop in a deserted stable yard, keeping her there from May through July, the coldest months of the year. "If the mother had already ascertained," our author comments, "that her daughter was still a virgin, yet punished her so cruelly because she learned that the girl had let a man into her bedroom, why should she now cast her into despair?" The beating was appropriate, it seems, for letting a man in her bedroom, and the confinement would have been proper if the girl had indeed been "dishonored."

    The father had been away on business, and the mother told Dona Teresa, "I wrote to your father to inform him of the evil you have done in discrediting our honor, and I have now received his reply, in which he says that he is coming home only to drink your blood. Take notice, therefore, that you will leave here only to be carried to your tomb."

    The "Count of Olmos" finally learned of Teresa's plight by way of her younger brother, who was sent twice a week to clean her chicken coop. The boy carried secret messages back and forth and finally took Teresa a file to cut through the lock on her door. It was agreed that she would climb onto a low roof, where she would affix a strong rope attached at its other end to the count's balcony. Just four days before her father arrived home, they made fast both ends of the rope. But Teresa panicked as she began to pull herself along it, and the count had a servant go across the rope to help her.


As they were moving along the rope two things happened that might have caused serious injury had Teresa fallen from the great height. The first was that as the two of them swung down from the roof, the edge of the balcony (which was of wood and somewhat worm-eaten) gave a great crack and would have split and let them fall had not the count held on to it with both hands. The other was that halfway across the street the girl's arms became so tired that when the servant noticed it he had to hang from the ropes and seize Teresa by her hair and the front of her shift; and although the two hung there motionless for the space of a Credo, at last she recovered her strength and continued until she reached the balcony, where the count received her with the greatest affection. They then untied one end of the hempen rope and, pulling on the other, hastily drew it in, thereby removing the evidence that the beautiful Teresa had escaped by that route. She spent the rest of the night in the arms of her lover, who did not behave with as much restraint as he had on the first, second, and third occasions, especially because this time Teresa was quite willing.


    Doña Teresa stayed in hiding in the home of the count for two months; nothing more is said about why she didn't marry him. Then she and her little brother slipped away to an aunt's house in another city and stayed away from Potosi for over two years, during which her mother died repentant and grieving for her lost children. Dona Teresa found "a noble youth who wished to wed her.... At last Doña Teresa returned to this city with her husband, where they lived for ten more years in great peace and tranquility, and at the end of that time Teresa departed this life, leaving four sons and a daughter who bore her name, a girl as beautiful as her dead mother had been. And she is alive today, her beauty increasing as she grows older."

    This little tale of the power of feminine beauty, of passionate whispers above narrow streets and hairbreadth escapes across them might come from old Seville, with guitars strumming, fountains splashing in the courtyards, Gypsies conjuring in the shadows. But the setting was about as different from Seville as it could be.

    The streams of silver from the mines of Potosí and Mexico gave Spain its few decades as the first world power and sustained the growth of the whole net of world trade—in northern Europe, in the Mediterranean, on the Mecca pilgrimage routes, into India, and both ways around the world into China. These streams flow all through our stories of the world of 1688. That world knew no more improbable combination of planning and anarchy, passion and repentance, greed and compassion, church, law, and silver, Spaniard and Indian than Potosi itself. At an elevation of about thirteen thousand feet in a valley surrounded by barren mountains, bringing all its food, lumber, and other necessities up from lower elevations, the city simply would not have been there at all if this location had not been the site of the largest and richest deposits of silver then known in the world, discovered in 1545 and coming into production in the 1580s. In the early 1600s Potosí had well over a hundred thousand people, and its core was a fine Spanish city with well-planned plazas, churches, opulent mansions, a huge area devoted to fortified refining complexes, and streets deliberately made narrow and crooked to break the howling winds. Every luxury good in the world was for sale—Chinese silks, Italian paintings, Persian carpets, French beaver hats—but Spanish women had learned that they must go down to lower elevations to give birth, for many of their infants would not survive their efforts to get enough oxygen from their first breaths of the thin air. There were not many cities outside Japan whose streets were safe at night in 1688, but few were as wild as those of Potosi. Greed, passion, challenges to honor, long-lasting feuds among Basques, Castilians, American-born creoles, and foreigners led to the endless ambushes, duels, and pitched battles described with such relish by Arzans. If occasionally one of the wild men repented and ended his life as a Franciscan friar, it gave the tale-tellers of Potosí a treasured chance to describe the most interestingly brutal crimes and provide edification all at once. Black slaves and Indian servants could be counted on to vary their monotonous lives by breaking the heads of their masters' enemies. If greed for silver did not provide enough recruits for the devil, there also was a scattering of Spanish and Indian witches, some of them said to specialize in trances induced by coca, already very much a part of the lives of the people of the Andes.

    Potosí and its stream of silver depended on an organized brutality, the mita system of forced Indian labor. From the 1570s on, the Spanish authorities required every Indian village in the viceroyalty of Peru to send one-seventh of its male population every year for a four-month term of paid labor in the mines of Potosi, the mercury mines of Huancavelica (in modern Peru), or other public projects. The wages were far below market levels, the work was hard and dangerous (the worst was amid the poisonous mercury ore at Huancavelica), and disease and bad diet contributed to the high death rates. The mita provided only about one-tenth of the labor supply at Potosí, but these laborers did the heaviest and most dangerous work, which no one would do without compulsion, carrying heavy baskets of ore up rickety ladders out of the mines. The mita also shaped the economy of the rest of the area, as Indians fled villages where they were registered in order to live where they had no mita obligations.

    By 1650 the mita was producing only about 60 percent of the numbers of laborers for Potosí it had at the turn of the century, and silver production and royal revenues from it were falling. The mill- and mineowners were demanding restoration of the full labor supply, and the monarchy was supporting them in hopes of reviving production. In 1683, after prolonged discussion and several abortive reform projects, the viceroy, the duke of La Palata, ordered a new census as a basis for full enforcement of the mita. Many local officials repeatedly sought clarification or asked permission to use local variations in reporting categories, and otherwise delayed compliance, while masses of Indians moved away from administrative centers to avoid being registered. The result was a census showing a total population of Upper Peru only half that of a century before. In 1688 the results finally were being pulled together, and a new set of lower mita quotas was laid out. In the eighteenth century the Spanish managed to raise production at Potosí above its late-seventeenth-century level and continued their efforts to revive the mita, but to little effect, as quotas and actual supplies of forced labor continued to decline.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations X
Acknowledgments XI
January 3, 1688: A Baroque Prelude 1
Part I. A World of Wooden Ships 9
1. The Empire of Silver 13
2. Many Africas 32
3. Slaves, Ships, and Frontiers 45
4. Dampier and the Aborigines 60
Part II. The World of the Great Company 67
5. The Cape of Good Hope 69
6. The Island World 74
7. Phaulkon 87
Part III. Three Worlds Apart: Russia, China, Japan 93
8. Tsar Peter's Russia 95
9. Survivors and Visionaries 105
10. At the Court of Kangxi 113
11. The Jesuits and China 128
12. Kanazawa, Edo, Nagasaki 145
13. Saikaku and Basho 158
Part IV. Versailles, London, Amsterdam 167
14. The Sun King and the Ladies 169
15. A Family Quarrel and a Glorious Revolution 180
16. Echoes across the Oceans 194
17. A Hundred Years of Freedom 207
Part V. Worlds of Words: Styles and Thought in Europe 219
18. In the Republic of Letters 223
19. Aphra Behn 237
20. Newton, Locke, and Leibniz 242
Part VI. Islam and Its others 253
21. The World of the Great Sultan 255
22. Mecca 269
23. Hindus and Muslims 276
24. Englishmen, Indians, and Others 285
Part VII. Exile, Hope, and Family 293
25. Next Year in Jerusalem 295
26. O Well Is Thee 302
Sources and Further Reading 305
Credits 315
Index 317
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