THE WEALTH OF THE INDIES
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THE WEALTH OF THE INDIES book
The closing years of the fifteenth century and the opening years of the sixteenth were marked by the greatest of all revolutions in the world's carrying trade, the opening of the ocean routes. For oceanic voyages two things were necessary; better ships and more scientific navigation. Italian in origin, the type seems to have been first perfected by French corsairs, but in the second half of the sixteenth century it was widely adopted as an ocean-going warship. The clumsy hanseatic hulks, built with a single eye to cargo capacity, were ill-suited to ocean navigation, and the merchants of the Hansa were too much absorbed by the struggle to maintain their old monopolies, to see that the future of the carrying trade lay with the ocean routes. Spanish shipbuilding was poor, both as regards design and material, and the shortage of native shipping frequently led to the purchase or hire of German and Flemish hulks ill-suited to ocean voyages.