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  • Print publication year: 1957
  • Online publication date: March 2008

II - The face of Europe on the eve of the great discoveries

This chapter discusses the new aspects of the life of Europe, as well as its economic circumstances, political character, and human geography on the eve of the great discoveries. The progress of much of European mining was bound up with the extraction of silver from copper and lead ores, and the discovery of rich silver ores in the New World, especially those of Potosi in Bolivia about 1546, was to deal a blow not only to European silver mining but to European mining in general. As the fifteenth century drew to a close, Dutch and English maritime enterprise was competing with that of the Hanse, so that even before the oceanic discoveries, 'most of its teeth were out and the rest loose', as one English observer in Germany put it. Alum deposits were discovered here in 1462, and long before the end of the century the output was very considerable and greatly added to the income of the papal states.
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The New Cambridge Modern History
  • Volume 1: The Renaissance, 1493–1520
  • Edited by G. R. Potter
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055765
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