International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Motors of Production or Voracious Usurers.The Conflicts between the Genoese Colonist and Castilian Authorities Regarding Landownership and Sugar Production in the Canary Islands (1489-1516)
Andrés Mesa

This paper studies the conflict between Genoese merchants on the one hand, and Canarian local authorities and Castilian colonists on the other, regarding the alleged Genoese hoarding of land in the Canary Islands at the end of the fifteenth century. It shows the roots of the conflict and the veracity of the claims made in the 1490s by neighbors of Gran Canaria, who stated that the Genoese owned over half of the land available for growing sugar cane. Also, it studies the apparent Genoese success in Macaronesia, as it relates to the movement of Mediterranean institutions, such as slavery and the plantation economy, to the Atlantic. It shows that the Genoese were crucial in the introduction of the plantation economy in the Canaries. They dominated the local market thanks to their international commercial networks and their success in joining the production aspects of sugar cane growth and its transformation into sugar. Their plantations and mills operated with an imported workforce of enslaved people and Portuguese sugar masters. Nevertheless, their success came to an end when the plantation economy that they had created exhausted itself. In turn argues that the source of conflict corresponds to the way Castile responded to the economic reality in the Canaries, the measures were directed against social symptoms and not the underlying cause of the social unrest against Genoese success.

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