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The Strange Tale Of The Decline Of Spanish Shipping

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Chapter Summary

This chapter starts by trying to establish some quantitative background for the assessment of the supposed slow rise and fast decline of the Spanish shipping sector over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Yet, it argues that demand played a larger role in the stagnation of Spanish shipping vis-a-vis its northern European competitors than is generally assumed. It takes a simplistic, but systematic approach to trying to unravel at least part of the myth surrounding the supposed rise and decline of Spain as a maritime country. Shipping and by extension shipbuilding were essential features of the Spanish economy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most importantly, the Armada disaster reinforced Spanish determination to help shipbuilding and create a dedicated naval programme. Thus, the process of development in those sectors offers some interesting insights that can help to understand the process of Spanish economic development more generally and some conclusions are offered.

Keywords: Armada; decline; maritime country; seventeenth centuries; Spanish shipping



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