Andrew Marr's History Of The World (2012) s01e05 Episode Script

Age of Plunder

Saturday, November 16th, 1532, Peru.
Two worlds were about to collide.
Spanish adventurers had come for gold and glory.
Now they had to face the most powerful man in the Americas.
Atahualpa - emperor of the Incas.
The Spanish friar told Atahualpa that the book contained the holy words of God.
Written words and paper were unknown to him.
All he saw were dull scratchings.
SHOUTS IN SPANISH The unwitting rejection of Christianity became the excuse for slaughter and plunder on an epic scale.
The 16th century saw Europeans go far beyond plundering gold and silver.
Fortunes would be made by giving consumers warmth, beauty and new flavours.
Buccaneers would become businessmen, merchants would create the first modern companies to rival old kingdoms.
In 150 years, mankind starts to move from wealth and simple plunder to capitalism.
It's a bloody story, and its consequences are all around us today.
Half an hour before sunrise, August the 3rd, 1492.
An expedition sets sail from southern Spain.
The three ships had a Spanish crew of 90, led by an Italian captain Christopher Columbus.
They were heading for the Orient, the land of silk and money.
The only way for Europeans to get to the East had been a 5,000-mile trek overland.
Muslim traders controlled that route.
Any European who could find a direct sea route would cut out the middlemen and make a fortune.
Columbus's plan was risky.
He would go west, off the map of the known world.
So, when Columbus said that he could get to Japan within four weeks of sailing from the Canary Islands - he reckoned that the distance was 2,400 miles - this sounded like a wonderful gamble.
Of course, even Columbus knew, when he set sail, that his calculations were wildly optimistic.
They sailed for the four weeks he'd reckoned on, but no land was seen.
The crew didn't share their captain's optimism.
None of them had been this far out into the dark Atlantic before.
There was one thing that kept them going.
The King and Queen of Spain had offered a vast reward to whichever sailor first caught sight of land - 10,000 silver coins a year for the rest of his life.
And yet, as the weeks passed, there were endless false sightings of land and the sailors became more and more despondent, and Columbus had to beg and cajole them to keep going.
More than five weeks into the voyage, still nothing but endless sea.
But then, at 2am on the 12th of October, 1492, a sailor called Rodrigo de Triana finally spotted something.
Tierra? Tierra! 'Tierra!' Tierra! Tierra! Tierra a la vista! MEN SHOU LAUGHS Soy yo! Soy yo! That fabulous royal reward was his - he'd won the ultimate lottery! Oye! Or had he? No, said Columbus.
As it happened, he himself had seen a light four hours earlier.
It must have been on the island.
So the king's reward was his.
De Triano would never get over the betrayal.
It's said that, years later, he died in obscurity, hanging himself from a yardarm.
He was convinced he had arrived in the Far East.
This might be China or Japan or possibly India.
In fact, he'd landed somewhere in the Bahamas.
He planted the Spanish flag and declared the name of the island to be San Salvador.
San Salvador - Christ the Saviour.
Its real name was Guanahani - that's what the natives called it.
The natives the still deeply confused Columbus called them Indians.
And the name stuck.
Alto! Aguarden, aguarden.
Columbus wrote "They ought to make good and skilled servants, "for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them.
"I think they can very easily be made Christians, "for they seem to have no religion.
"Weapons, they have none.
" "For I show them swords, which they grasp by the blade" "and cut themselves through ignorance.
"I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men" "and govern them as I pleased.
" Columbus seems to have identified the three things that would define Europe's relationship with well, wherever he thought he was.
Religion, conquest and slavery.
The Spanish sailors had spotted what they wanted Quiere cambiar? Quiere cambiar? .
In little rings hanging from the noses of the natives.
They traded glass beads from Venice for as much of it as they could find.
So, what did the islanders think of the Spanish? We will never know.
Within 18 years, 98% of the island's population would be dead.
After 13,000 years of being cut off from the rest of humanity, the people here had no immunity to typhus or smallpox or the common cold or many other diseases, and they dropped like flies.
The Spanish didn't understand this.
They'd just come here looking for gold and silver.
There's also evidence that the native Americans would give the Spanish something to bring home - a new strain of syphilis.
But the most important thing that Columbus brought back was headline news.
There is a world out there that we Europeans can take.
And take it, they did.
Over the next four decades, Spain's conquistadors ripped into Central America, asset-stripping the Aztecs and everybody else they found.
Columbus's tomb in Seville Cathedral is a monument to the man who started all of this, the man still said to have "discovered America".
In fact, he went to his grave thinking that he'd gone to the Far East.
His maths were hopeless.
He had absolutely no idea where he'd got to, and he was out by only one continent and the entire Pacific Ocean.
Christopher Columbus had made the most important mistake in human history.
The chance of getting rich drove European ships in every direction over the next century.
What began as a path to plunder would grow into a web of international sea trade.
The very beginnings of a new economic order.
But, by 1517, the news of Columbus's discovery of a new world still had very little impact on most ordinary people in Europe.
Their daily lives were dominated by a much more immediate power .
the Catholic Church.
The average European lived in a world constrained by poverty, ignorance of the outside world and fear of famine, violence, disease.
The best hope of a better life was in the afterlife.
And the keys of heaven were strictly in the hands of the Church.
Danke schon.
Liebe Frauen, meine Herren, bitte schon.
SPEAKS IN GERMAN Salvation was sold in the form of indulgencies - printed certificates for the absolution of sins.
Virtual passports to heaven in exchange for hard cash.
And one of the Church's best salesmen of salvation was a man called Johann Tetzel.
Liebe Frauen, liebe Herren, kommen Sie herein Johann Tetzel's sales patter was effective, but it wasn't subtle.
You fear the fires of hell pay up.
Your poor, dead parents are down there in purgatory in the flames, in agony, begging for release.
Pay up.
And if you think that's unfair, here's one of Tetzel's jingles.
Wenn die Munze im Kastlein klingt, die Seele in den Himmel springt.
"When the coin in the coffer rings," "the soul from purgatory springs.
" And of course, all those coins were going to the great ones of the Church.
Pope Leo X was in a dash for cash.
He was rebuilding St Peter's Basilica, the biggest church in the world.
But to some, the Pope's sale of indulgences to pay for this looked cynical and greedy.
On October the 31st, 1517, a German monk is said to have strode up to Castle Church in Wittenberg, Saxony, and nailed 95 arguments against the Church's behaviour to the oak door.
His name was Martin Luther.
He was by now furiously angry.
He wanted a public fight.
And this was a way of taking the argument out of the church and onto the streets.
And in words that everybody would understand, the Pope, he said, is immensely wealthy.
Why should he not build St Peter's Basilica with his own money, rather than the money of the faithful poor? There had been protests against Church power before.
But this time, a device which had been created by Johannes Gutenberg helped turn Luther's protest into a full-blown revolution - the printing press.
Until then, books had been copied by hand, at huge expense.
Now hundreds of copies could be made.
By 1500, more than 15 million books were in circulation in Europe.
One in every three books sold in Germany was written by Martin Luther, every single one of them a blow to the Church's authority.
Now the Pope struck back.
He damned Luther as a heretic and excommunicated him from the Church, which meant not only that he could be burned at the stake as a heretic but, more importantly, that he could burn in hell forever.
Luther never walked away from a fight, so here in Wittenberg, underneath an oak tree and in front of a cheering crowd, he took the document from the Pope, damning him - it was called a Papal Bull - and he set fire to it.
CROWD CHEER And then, just in case the Pope hadn't got the message, he described him as "the Antichrist".
On April the 16th, 1521, Luther was put on trial for his life.
He faced Europe's German-speaking leaders of Church and State, led by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, by far the most powerful monarch in Europe.
Sind Sie Martin Luther aus Wittenberg? Ja.
Und haben Sie Luther was asked to confirm he was the author of the offending books.
This is a genuinely dangerous moment.
When he's asked to recant, he replies, if I deny these books, all that I do is to add strength to tyranny.
That's the tyranny of the Pope.
He is saying to the German princes, "Come on, we can do this together.
" Gott hilfen mir.
SHOUTING AND ARGUING Some of the north German princes joined his revolt as a way to break free from Rome's grip on power.
They became known as the Protestants.
One of them, Frederick of Saxony, saved Luther from being burned at the stake.
Luther found himself here, at the Castle of die Wartburg, where he spent a year in hiding.
He grew his hair and grew a beard and called himself Junker Jorg.
While he was here, he translated the Bible into German, so that everyone could hear and understand it.
And he gave the Germans an extraordinary treasure chest of biting phrases and unforgettable words.
In a sense, he was also their Shakespeare.
But while Luther was in hiding, the protest he inspired was spinning way out of his control.
In 1524, violent revolts erupted amongst impoverished peasants across central Europe.
Luther was horrified.
A protest against Church corruption had turned into a social revolution.
Despite attempted treaties and compromises, Protestants and Catholics went to war for 125 years.
Protestant prince would fight Catholic prince.
Dynasty would fight dynasty.
Families fought each other.
In Europe's wars of religion, 11 million people would die.
More Europeans fled from their homes than at any time, from the collapse of the Roman Empire until the horrors of the 20th century.
But the cost of these religious wars would also be paid by other people around the world.
Catholic Spain funded her religious wars in Europe with gold from the Americas.
By 1532, Spain had entered America's greatest empire.
Tawantinsuyu - the 3,000-mile long land of the Incas.
Saturday, November the 16th, 1532.
The central square of Cajamarca, in what is now Peru.
Francisco Pizarro and 168 Spanish soldiers were hiding in buildings around the square.
They'd set a desperate trap to capture the Inca emperor, Atahualpa.
The Inca emperor was curious about these foreigners who'd asked to see him.
Atahualpa's scouts had been tracking Pizarro's progress, and reporting back on these poor, incompetent creatures encased in metal shells and riding large llamas.
Clearly no kind of threat, but Atahualpa thought they might be worth a look.
80,000 of Atahualpa's crack troops were camped around the town.
The Spanish were outnumbered by more than 400 to 1.
Behind their walls, crouching down, many of the Spanish, as they confessed afterwards, were wetting themselves in sheer terror.
HORSE WHINNIES Their only chance was an ambush.
Pizarro gambled on having weapons unknown in the Inca world - steel swords, guns, horses and cannon.
And luckily for the Spanish, none of Atahualpa's entourage was armed.
The Incas felt no threat, no need for weapons on a purely ceremonial occasion.
At four o'clock, Friar Vicente de Valverde came out of hiding.
Este libro Through an interpreter, the friar told Atahualpa that his book contained the holy words of God.
It meant nothing to the Inca.
There was no such thing as a book in his world.
The Pope had decreed that the people of the New World were human and were worthy of respect unless they rejected Christianity.
Salid! Salid Cristianos! Come out, Christians! Come out, Christians! Pizarro used Atahualpa's rejection of the Bible as his excuse to launch the attack.
SHOUTING In two hours of carnage and confusion, at least 2,000 Incas died.
Most were trampled to death in their attempts to escape.
Not a single Spaniard died.
And Pizarro took Atahualpa hostage.
Atahualpa was outraged to find himself imprisoned.
In his eyes, he was the ruler of the world.
But he soon realised what Pizarro wanted.
SPEAKS IN QUECHUA Atahualpa raised his hand, as high as he could, in the room where he was being held.
It's thought to be this room.
And he said he would fill the room to that height with gold.
And then he would fill it to that height in silver twice over.
Now, we don't know what Pizarro said in response.
I suspect he was simply grinning.
It took eight months to collect the ransom.
13,000 pounds of gold and 26,000 pounds of silver.
Once the Spanish had the gold, they'd no more use for Atahualpa.
They brought the emperor to the square in Cajamarca.
He was given a choice - convert to Christianity and be garrotted, or refuse and be burned alive.
Atahualpa converted.
His last words were to Pizarro.
He asked him to take care of his children.
Pizarro agreed.
GROANING CHOKING SNAPPING Atahualpa's empire crumbled.
Civil war and European diseases now cleared the way for the Spanish to take over the Inca empire.
In the century that followed, more than £100 million of silver and gold were shipped to Spain.
In today's money, Spain's plunder would be worth 10 trillion dollars.
Only 40 years after Columbus first set sail, Spain was rich beyond imagination.
But what did Spain do with its plunder? It gilded its churches and palaces and spent the rest of the fortune on religious war, which Spain lost.
Within 60 years, Spain was glittering but bankrupt.
This is a story in which nobody sees what's right in front of them.
Atahualpa was blind to the threat the Spanish offered to him.
Pizarro thought that, by conquering the Incas, he would become rich and happy.
In fact, the gold mania so infected his own soldiers, they ended up murdering Pizarro.
And the Spanish never even saw the real wealth of Peru all around them .
the humble potato.
New World crops, like potato and maize and tomatoes, have given billions of people all over the planet a cheap and hardy source of nourishment for centuries.
They've made a greater contribution to the world's prosperity than all the gold and all the silver that was ever ripped out of Peru.
Natural resources would be more important than gold in transforming the world's economy.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of this is Russia.
In 1570, it was an impoverished outpost on the edge of Europe.
Today, Russia is by far the biggest country in the world.
Most of that is Siberia, the vast stretch of forests and mountains once known as "Sib Ir" - "the sleeping land".
The man who woke up Siberia was the man who made modern Russia.
Ivan the Terrible.
SHOUTS IN RUSSIAN Tsar Ivan faced a dilemma.
How could he make his country an important power on the European stage when it only had basic agriculture and a few natural resources.
The answer was hidden in the forests.
From the 1550s onwards, temperatures around the world began to drop dramatically.
We call this the Little Ice Age.
It's the time when the Thames started to freeze hard, when Iceland was cut off from the rest of the world from time to time by sea ice, there were huge snowfalls in Spain and Portugal.
And before modern fabrics, wearing fur was one of the few ways you could stay warm.
And the richer you were, the better the quality of the fur you could afford.
Ivan turned to private enterprise.
He called in a family of trading tycoons, the Stroganovs.
Ivan gave them a charter to exploit the forests north and east of Moscow.
GASPS The Stroganovs then hired some "private contractors".
Mercenaries, led by a Cossack called Yermak.
The fastest way for Yermak to get fur was simply to take it from the native hunters.
Yermak pushed further east, into lands ruled by Kuchum, the Khan of Sibir.
A direct descendant of Genghis Khan.
Most of his men still carried bows and arrows, spears and swords.
Yermak's men had modern muskets.
Some of Kuchum's men had never seen a gun before.
One of them described their horror.
There's a flash of fire .
a great smoke and thunder.
It's impossible to shield yourself from them.
Guns gave the Europeans victory as surely as they had in South America.
But the Khan of Sibir escaped into the forest.
Yermak claimed the land for Russia .
and sent a tribute to Ivan the Terrible - 5,200 of the finest Siberian furs.
When Ivan saw these furs, he must have realised that everything had changed.
All the furry animals near Moscow were long gone.
But Siberia offered a bonanza of fur.
A black fox fur, for instance, was worth more than its weight in gold, and Siberia's furs were limitless.
Limitless trading wealth meant limitless power.
To thank Yermak, Ivan made him a gift of a suit of armour and dubbed him the Prince of Siberia.
Yermak pushed deeper into the wilderness for two more years.
By then, the Russians were exhausted and out of food.
On the night of August the 5th, 1584, Yermak made camp by the Irtysh River.
But Kuchum had been tracking the Russians every step of the way.
YELLING It's said Yermak ran into the river to escape.
But his armour weighed him down.
Yermak was drowned by Ivan's gift to him.
ROARS Kuchum's victory would be short-lived.
An unstoppable flood of Russian settlers and raiders would follow Yermak into Siberia.
It took the Russians only 60 years to push 4,000 miles across Asia, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Siberia was now Russian.
It's impossible to imagine modern Russia without Siberia.
It would be just another Eastern European country.
And as for the wealth, 80% of Russia's gas and coal and 90% of its oil reserves are found in Siberia - the basis of its modern power.
But when Europeans hit other advanced cultures, they had a much rougher time.
Japan had the chance to open up and then to spread her power around the world, just like any European country.
But Japan said no.
And, strangely, we can thank European religion for that.
The Japanese had been turning Christian, ever since Jesuit priests arrived from Portugal in 1549.
By the early 1600s, at least a quarter of a million Japanese were Catholic.
The Jesuits must have thought they were close to making Japan a Catholic country.
And, as go-betweens in trade, their influence was huge.
April, 1600.
Osaka Castle.
A shipwrecked Englishman called William Adams was brought before Japan's most powerful warlord, Tokugawa leyasu.
The Jesuits were watching.
They did not welcome the arrival of an English Protestant heretic.
They had some good, Christian advice for the Japanese.
Crucify him.
Luckily for Adams, leyasu ignored their advice.
Ieyasu was a man of great intellectual openness and curiosity about the outside world.
Adams' hair-raising tales about his two-year voyage to Japan intrigued and amused leyasu.
LAUGHS SPEAKS IN JAPANESE Ieyasu soon had Adams teaching him maths and geometry.
He badly wanted an ocean-going fleet of his own, and Adams, who'd served with Drake against the Armada, had the skills he needed.
Under Adams, the Japanese built two perfect replicas of the kind of European ships that were travelling the world.
Soon, leyasu was depending on Adams very heavily.
So much so, he told him, he could never again leave Japan.
In 1603, leyasu became Shogun, the military leader of all Japan.
And he honoured Adams in a way no other foreigner had ever been before or since.
Adams was made a samurai.
SPEAKS IN JAPANESE "William Adams, the navigator, is dead.
" "Samurai Miura Anjin is born.
" Despite the mutual respect shown by Adams and leyasu, Japanese tolerance of Christians was about to be tested to the limit.
The Jesuits helped to build a trading empire for Portugal and Spain.
But their deeper goal was a religious empire for the Catholic Church.
In 1615, Japanese Catholics supported a rival to leyasu.
In the siege of Osaka Castle, the furious shogun massacred 40,000 of them.
And the Jesuits were driven from Japan.
Christianity was banned, foreigners were expelled, and all Japanese were prohibited from leaving their own country on pain of death.
Japanese ships from now on were built with a special hole in the stern, so that if they went too far out to sea, the ocean swell would capsize them.
These were ships built to stay close to the land.
The curiosity about the outside world that William Adams had discussed with leyasu was now replaced by sakoku - the closed or "locked country" policy.
Japan remained closed for more than 200 years.
Europeans had destroyed any chance of trade with Japan .
because of their obsession with religion.
Many people have portrayed the Japanese decision to slam the doors on the outside world as one of the great historical mistakes.
How ridiculous! The British at the same time went off and created a worldwide empire.
But there is another way to think about this.
The closed-country policy gave the Japanese 250 years of peace.
Guns virtually disappeared.
There were none of the terrible epidemics that ravaged other countries, and, above all, the intensity of Japanese culture, the "Japaneseness" of Japan, its buildings, its food, its taste, its art, really derive from this period above all.
So, if this is one of the great historical mistakes, there have been worse ones.
The first Englishman to embrace Japanese culture, William Adams, is still fondly remembered in Japan.
This memorial to him is in an area of Tokyo called Anjin-Cho, in memory of Anjin-san, Mr Navigator.
But the setback in Japan couldn't stop the growth of world trade.
Europe's entrepreneurs created a powerful new way to make money - companies.
Their rivalry would only increase the competition for rare and exotic goods.
Ginger, cloves, cinnamon travelled around the world, making merchants fortunes.
And there was one spice, fabulously expensive from Europe to India, which was prized above all, rumoured to be a cure for the plague nutmeg.
But nutmegs grew only in a few tiny islands, sandwiched between Borneo and New Guinea .
the Banda Islands.
The Dutch controlled nine of the ten islands, with forts, ships and thousands of men.
The English controlled just one - their very first colony - the island of Run.
It still looks much as it did in 1600, just a two-mile strip of steep hills and nutmeg trees.
But in those days, a single sack of nutmeg could buy you a town house in London.
Run was held by the world's first multinational corporation, the East India Company of London.
In January 1617, Nathaniel Courthope's job was to keep the island from the Dutch competition.
He trained his cannon on a gap in the reefs.
He had two ships - the rival Dutch East India Company had a dozen.
This looks like a traditional naval battle.
It's really a hostile corporate takeover.
The Dutch East India Company had a stranglehold on the world trade in nutmeg and other spices.
The future was Dutch.
As for the British, they were, frankly, comparative tiddlers.
Amsterdam was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company, the VOC.
The Dutch had overtaken the Portuguese and the Spanish in the Asian spice trade, for a good reason.
Unlike the Spanish kings, who spent their wealth, the Dutch merchants joined together in companies and reinvested their earnings in more ships, more expeditions, until soon, they had the biggest navy on earth.
With nothing but rainwater to drink on Run, an English ship tried to run the blockade to get fresh water.
But it was captured.
Finally, some of Courthope's own men deserted, taking the last ship.
The only means of escape was now gone.
Months of stalemate followed.
Then a deserter from the Dutch navy appeared out of nowhere and asked for protection.
Stand down.
Courthope took him in .
though his men were wary.
The English survived on rainwater and scraps for three more years.
All the while, the Dutch deserter lived quietly amongst them, until Courthope received a message.
It was from native Banda islanders offering to fight the Dutch.
On the night of October the 18th, 1620, Courthope went to meet the rebels.
But the deserter finally succeeded in his act of corporate espionage.
The Dutch were waiting for Courthope.
GUNSHOTS Nathaniel Courthope was never seen again.
With their leader gone, the English surrendered.
The English trade in nutmeg was over.
The Dutch East India Company was on its way to becoming the largest commercial power in the world.
But there was one final consequence of Nathaniel Courthope's heroic last stand on Britain's very first colony.
When the British and Dutch finally agreed a peace treaty, the British were able to ask for something back, in return for handing over the rights to Run.
And what they got was the rights to another diddly little island on the other side of the world - it was called Manhattan.
And a certain amount of capitalism carries on there, even today.
In Holland, new wealth from the spice trade produced a new class of people - the middle class.
And with the money came the search for status symbols fashion paintings porcelain.
On February the 1st, 1637, a Dutch textile merchant called Pieter Wynants had invited his extended family to Sunday lunch at his Haarlem home.
The subject of conversation that day was the latest craze, tulips.
THEY SPEAK IN DUTCH This had started with a few super-rich connoisseurs, who delighted in the splodges and dribbles of colour on the petals of a flower which had been admired for centuries.
The rarest and most expensive were wildly coloured and striped, the result of a virus in the bulbs.
You never knew when you'd get a beautiful aberration, worth a great deal of money.
The Dutch started buying tulip bulbs like lottery tickets.
They knew all about speculation.
Dutch merchants had created the world's first stock exchange in Amsterdam in 1607.
But the booming market in tulip bulbs meant anyone could make a fortune.
During the meal, Hendrick Jan Wynants suggested to Geertruyt Schoudt that she should buy a pound of tulip bulbs from him for 1,400 florins, about the price of a house.
THEY SPEAK IN DUTCH Geertruyt was reluctant, but she was tempted.
All round Europe, the Dutch were famous for their love of gambling, and tulips seemed a sure bet.
Prices were rising every day.
Tulip sales usually happened in the back rooms of taverns, like The Golden Grape in Haarlem.
Each round of selling began with a round of wine, paid for by the seller.
BUZZ OF CONVERSATION Many buyers didn't have the money to pay for the bulbs.
They just gave one another IOUs.
And the more they drank, the faster the prices rose.
This was the world's first great speculative bubble.
A pound of tulips were now changing hands for the price of a house, a farm, a pair of ships.
These people might look sane, but they were in the grip of a disorder of the brain.
They had caught "tulip mania".
Geertruyt was still hesitating until another guest, Jacob de Block, offered to be her guarantor for eight days while she got the money together.
THEY SPEAK IN DUTCH Finally, with this no-risk arrangement in place THEY SPEAK IN DUTCH Then another guest offered Geertruyt 100 florins profit on the spot if she'd sell the bulbs straight to him.
THEY SPEAK IN DUTCH But her backer, Jacob de Block, and his wife, convinced her to hold on to the bulbs.
They knew that if she didn't pay them back in time, the tulips would become theirs for an eight-day-old price.
And with the price of tulips now rising by the hour THEY SPEAK IN DUTCH .
the de Blocks could make quite a profit.
Two days later, bulb sales were still rocketing.
The money and wine were flowing as ever until the auctioneer tried to sell a pound of Witte Croonen, white crown bulbs, for the going rate of 1,250 florins.
Then something mysterious happened - there were no buyers.
He tried 1,200 florins.
1,150? 1,100.
1,000 florins? The fever had broken.
The patient had woken up.
Few people ever wanted all of those bulbs - they were only buying them to sell them on again.
And so, the minute that confidence slipped, that that great drunkenness of optimism was over, everybody was desperately trying to get rid of them.
Sell! Sell! Sell! That's what happens in all of the speculative bubbles, whether it's the Wall Street Crash or the dot.
com bubble - they all end the same way pop! The tulip market had collapsed in just four days.
ANIMATED CHATTER IN DUTCH The Wynants family soon called in a lawyer.
They're all giving their version of who'd promised what during that Sunday lunch.
Jacob de Block and his wife reneged on their offer to help Geertruyt.
She was left holding the bulbs.
It's not known if she ever saw them bloom.
But tulip mania didn't destroy the Dutch system - the stock exchange and the companies and the trading and the willingness to speculate.
We call it capitalism.
And it's lasted far longer than the European empires and it's been worth infinitely more than all the gold and silver that Europe plundered.
It started here.
And the tulips? Well, the Dutch turned them into an export trade, which they dominate to this day.
In less than a century and a half, Europeans had gone from piracy to private enterprise.
They'd rebelled against a church .
dominated world trade .
and some had grown rich.
Now these changes would have unexpected consequences right around the world.
In the next chapter of this history of the world, monarchies topple .
slaves rebel .
medicine and technology make life better for millions.
The Age of Enlightenment.
The Age of Revolution.
If you'd like to know a little bit more about how the past is revealed, you can order a free booklet called How Do They Know That? Just call 08453660255 or go to bbc.
uk/history and follow the links to the Open University.