The passage from the modern to the contemporary age, marked by the end of the Spanish colonial empire, was also the moment in which the role of Cadiz (one of the European capitals of the Atlantic trade) was redefined. The XVIII century represented the top moment for the exchanges between Cadiz and the Spanish colonies, so much that it was defined an “auténtico siglo de oro”, a true golden century. Achieving the monopoly on the American trade and having the Casa de la Contratación moved to Cadiz were the clearest expression of the recognition of the high position achieved by the Atlantic city, which became the cornerstone center of the Spanish economy. Cadiz’s economic structure, based on trade and exchanges and featuring an absolute preminence of pure brokerage functions – by trading on commission – successfully passed the trials of the “dorada” age, thanks to a series of highly favorable conditions. At the beginning of the XIX century, the majority of these advantages had proved unable to provide Cadiz’s economy with an effective impulse, giving way to some internal inequalities, long-dormant under the blanket of deep well-being the city had been in. The first forty years of 1800 were marked by a decline, which did not turn around, not even during the city’s brief stint as a free port. During those years, Cadiz progressively lost its cosmopolitan features and became more and more a regional-level center: with the disappearance of its privileged dimension as a broker between Europe and the Americas, the downsizing of the city’s role and economic activities became more and more evident. However, during about the middle of the XIX century, Cadiz made a comeback, as the paths of economic initiatives were opened again; there was even the spread of illusory expectations about a great comeback of intercontinental trade. During that time, the efforts towards the recovery of Cadiz’s economy tackled the critical point of the city’s economic backbone – i.e. the nonexistence of primary activities, except fishing, and of secondary ones – and focused on diversifying local economic sectors. And it was just then that the experience of two Cadiz-based insurance companies, linked to London’s “Lloyd’s”, began. The dissemination of seafaring insurance in Cadiz goes back to the beginning of the modern age, as attested by documents pertaining to colonial trade ships, kept in the Archivo General de Indias, and tracing back to 1588 at least. In fact, seafaring insurance originated as a derivative, juxtaposition and substitution of the so-called “préstamo a la gruesa”. During the XVI, the XVII and a great part of the XVIII centuries, insurance men had mostly been “hombres de negocios y compañías mercantiles que veían en el seguro un negocio más”. The lack in specialization concurred in making the birth of a true insurance market harder in the main Andalusian trade centres. Nevertheless, within the colonial trade, ways and tools to insure had developed with a greater and greater complexity and with a tight link to financial and speculation activities as well as sporting particular practices and features regarding insurance policies and their validation and use. Therefore, during the better part of the 1700s, Cadiz got into the limelight as the preferred place to implement the “préstamo” and the seafaring currency exchange on the international scenario. Traders, in fact, focused their attention on investment opportunities concerning true seafaring insurance only in the last part of the century. Whereas between the XVI and the first half of the XVIII century, insurance activity was mostly carried out by strangers – particularly English and French – with the growth and affirmation of limited liability companies in this sector as well, the participation of Spanish capital became a majority. And it was not by chance that, during the 1800s, “Lloyd’s” settled in Cadiz, also because of a large participation by local investors. The working of the company, established as “Lloyd’s Underwriter’s Association” in 1688 in London, enacted the dissemination of its activities by establishing branches of the main company as “co-insurers” in all the main international trading and financial market places. Under this form, two big Cadiz-based “seguros marítimos” companies were born: “Lloyd Gaditano” and “Lloyd Andaluz”, who began their operation in the middle of the XIX century. Previously, Cadiz hosted other insurance companies, albeit with limited capitals. From the examined archive documents, between 1840 and 1870, there is the presence of several Cadiz-based insurance companies, themselves strictly linked to local commercial firms (“Compañía General Española de Seguros”, “Veritas Gaditano”, “Seguros Marítimos”, “Lloyd Gaditano”, “Lloyd Cántabro”, “Lloyd Andaluz”, etc.). Among the documents of these companies, the most important were those pertaining to an insurance society dealing in «riesgos marítimos», “Veritas Gaditano”, and to the «seguros marítimos» company called “Lloyd Andaluz”. The relationship between commercial firms and these insurance companies was something very relevant, showing how the trends in that period were favourable again and how Cadiz’s mercantile expansion and diversification of economic activities had reached significant levels. In fact, both the aforementioned insurance companies featured the involvement of some of the most important trade operators in Cadiz. This mobilization of local energies was a sign clearly marking a dynamic reality, which had reached the apex of a long growth phase, doomed to stop between the 1860s and the 1870s. The documents available for “Lloyd Gaditano” and “Lloyd Andaluz” allowed to open a window on the management and inner workings of these companies, as well as gathering novel information on the insurance activities carried out in Cadiz at the time. This further study, based on primary sources, besides providing new relevant elements concerning the knowledge on Spanish insurance and on the dissemination of the branches of the London-based company, might also spur new research activities, focusing on wider undestanding of an often-overlooked aspect of Cadiz’s history and economic activities, such as insurance and its companies.

Commercio e assicurazioni a Cadice tra età moderna e contemporanea: la presenza dei Lloyd’s

LEPORE, Amedeo
2008

Abstract

The passage from the modern to the contemporary age, marked by the end of the Spanish colonial empire, was also the moment in which the role of Cadiz (one of the European capitals of the Atlantic trade) was redefined. The XVIII century represented the top moment for the exchanges between Cadiz and the Spanish colonies, so much that it was defined an “auténtico siglo de oro”, a true golden century. Achieving the monopoly on the American trade and having the Casa de la Contratación moved to Cadiz were the clearest expression of the recognition of the high position achieved by the Atlantic city, which became the cornerstone center of the Spanish economy. Cadiz’s economic structure, based on trade and exchanges and featuring an absolute preminence of pure brokerage functions – by trading on commission – successfully passed the trials of the “dorada” age, thanks to a series of highly favorable conditions. At the beginning of the XIX century, the majority of these advantages had proved unable to provide Cadiz’s economy with an effective impulse, giving way to some internal inequalities, long-dormant under the blanket of deep well-being the city had been in. The first forty years of 1800 were marked by a decline, which did not turn around, not even during the city’s brief stint as a free port. During those years, Cadiz progressively lost its cosmopolitan features and became more and more a regional-level center: with the disappearance of its privileged dimension as a broker between Europe and the Americas, the downsizing of the city’s role and economic activities became more and more evident. However, during about the middle of the XIX century, Cadiz made a comeback, as the paths of economic initiatives were opened again; there was even the spread of illusory expectations about a great comeback of intercontinental trade. During that time, the efforts towards the recovery of Cadiz’s economy tackled the critical point of the city’s economic backbone – i.e. the nonexistence of primary activities, except fishing, and of secondary ones – and focused on diversifying local economic sectors. And it was just then that the experience of two Cadiz-based insurance companies, linked to London’s “Lloyd’s”, began. The dissemination of seafaring insurance in Cadiz goes back to the beginning of the modern age, as attested by documents pertaining to colonial trade ships, kept in the Archivo General de Indias, and tracing back to 1588 at least. In fact, seafaring insurance originated as a derivative, juxtaposition and substitution of the so-called “préstamo a la gruesa”. During the XVI, the XVII and a great part of the XVIII centuries, insurance men had mostly been “hombres de negocios y compañías mercantiles que veían en el seguro un negocio más”. The lack in specialization concurred in making the birth of a true insurance market harder in the main Andalusian trade centres. Nevertheless, within the colonial trade, ways and tools to insure had developed with a greater and greater complexity and with a tight link to financial and speculation activities as well as sporting particular practices and features regarding insurance policies and their validation and use. Therefore, during the better part of the 1700s, Cadiz got into the limelight as the preferred place to implement the “préstamo” and the seafaring currency exchange on the international scenario. Traders, in fact, focused their attention on investment opportunities concerning true seafaring insurance only in the last part of the century. Whereas between the XVI and the first half of the XVIII century, insurance activity was mostly carried out by strangers – particularly English and French – with the growth and affirmation of limited liability companies in this sector as well, the participation of Spanish capital became a majority. And it was not by chance that, during the 1800s, “Lloyd’s” settled in Cadiz, also because of a large participation by local investors. The working of the company, established as “Lloyd’s Underwriter’s Association” in 1688 in London, enacted the dissemination of its activities by establishing branches of the main company as “co-insurers” in all the main international trading and financial market places. Under this form, two big Cadiz-based “seguros marítimos” companies were born: “Lloyd Gaditano” and “Lloyd Andaluz”, who began their operation in the middle of the XIX century. Previously, Cadiz hosted other insurance companies, albeit with limited capitals. From the examined archive documents, between 1840 and 1870, there is the presence of several Cadiz-based insurance companies, themselves strictly linked to local commercial firms (“Compañía General Española de Seguros”, “Veritas Gaditano”, “Seguros Marítimos”, “Lloyd Gaditano”, “Lloyd Cántabro”, “Lloyd Andaluz”, etc.). Among the documents of these companies, the most important were those pertaining to an insurance society dealing in «riesgos marítimos», “Veritas Gaditano”, and to the «seguros marítimos» company called “Lloyd Andaluz”. The relationship between commercial firms and these insurance companies was something very relevant, showing how the trends in that period were favourable again and how Cadiz’s mercantile expansion and diversification of economic activities had reached significant levels. In fact, both the aforementioned insurance companies featured the involvement of some of the most important trade operators in Cadiz. This mobilization of local energies was a sign clearly marking a dynamic reality, which had reached the apex of a long growth phase, doomed to stop between the 1860s and the 1870s. The documents available for “Lloyd Gaditano” and “Lloyd Andaluz” allowed to open a window on the management and inner workings of these companies, as well as gathering novel information on the insurance activities carried out in Cadiz at the time. This further study, based on primary sources, besides providing new relevant elements concerning the knowledge on Spanish insurance and on the dissemination of the branches of the London-based company, might also spur new research activities, focusing on wider undestanding of an often-overlooked aspect of Cadiz’s history and economic activities, such as insurance and its companies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/26905
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