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First Global Economy (AD 1450-1600)

Neil MacGregor presents an omnibus edition of his global history told through objects. This week: objects that speak of the first global economies.

Another chance to hear Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continue his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode he focuses on Europe's expanding maritime empire which created the world's first global economy. Spanish pieces of eight were used as currency from the new world of the Americas to Japan. The Dutch East India Company was a multinational conglomeration transporting goods from the Far East to a European market. Different cultures were brought into contract for the first time with varying results. When Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico it led to the destruction of the Aztec Empire. In contrast, the relationship between the Portuguese and the kingdom of Benin was mutually beneficial, with Portuguese sailors providing much-desired brass in exchange for ivory and palm oil.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

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1 hour