The Storm that Crushed the Spanish Empire


The signs have been there all along.

The waves are noticeably higher, and sea foam is dancing across the surface of the ocean. Birds are flying lower than usual. Smoke from the lamp floats toward the ground as if bowing to the heavy wind. The breeze that hits your face seems unfamiliar. It’s not the wind that softly caresses your cheeks on a fair day, but the wind that slaps you in the face—cold.

A storm is coming. You have to brace yourselves.

“Strike the royals!” you command your men as you feel the first few drops of rain hit your skin. They follow you in earnest though you can see small beads of sweat forming on their foreheads. Others are busying themselves with securing loose gear, closing all portholes, and tightening the doors.

It’s too late to turn back now. There is no use steering the whole fleet back to Cumana; it is already leagues away. You also know that you have to get the treasures—hundreds of gold bars and thousands of silver coins, precious gemstones and pearls from the rarest of oysters—back to the Spanish Empire fast, or else. You dare not think of it.

It comforts you to know that your men are all well-trained and that this is not the first time that you have sailed through a storm. But something in your gut feels different. The sea is a cradle lulling your ship to sleep, and you tighten your hold on the wheel to keep your balance. Drops of rain are falling faster now, more relentless. Thunder rumbles like a hungry giant’s belly, starved for food. Your men are working their way down the mast and striking more sails, even as they start to get drenched.

Your right-hand man comes to you and shouts over the wind, “What of the treasures, captain?” Your eyes immediately dart to the three chests at the side of the deck, neglected by the men who just earlier were gloating at the treasures they contain. You feel a knot tighten in your stomach.

“Bring them to my cabin,” you say, but another roll of thunder drowns out your voice. A huge wave comes out of nowhere, and you grab the wheel, holding on for dear life. A blinding flash of lightning hits the ocean, much too close to your ship’s hull.

“Drop anchor!” you shout, but it is lost in the thunder.

Suddenly, something catches your eye: the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, not ten pasos away, is rising up – up – UP. She’s being lifted by a monster wave, taller than 20 men. She’s completely broadside to the wave—the worst possible position. The men aboard rush to the uphill side, trying to balance the weight… but it’s hopeless.

As you watch, frozen, she broaches halfway up the monster wall of water, and then tips further. She capsizes, and after a horrible interminable moment, tumbles down the wall of water upside down.

Thankfully, you can’t hear the crew as they plunge headfirst into the dark abyss.

And then you realize the monster wave is coming right for you.

“Turn her! Into the wave!” The helmsman spins the wheel, but it’s far too late. Weighted down with the gold of the New World, you can’t turn her in time.

The monster is upon you, fierce tide sucking the ship’s belly into the wave. All you see above is roiling black water.

Eight Spanish treasure ships sank off the coast of Florida in 1622. They carried over $400 million in gold and riches from the New World, which would have replenished Spain’s struggling economy. The loss of these ships contributed to the downfall of the Spanish empire.

The shipwreck was discovered in 1985, and placed on permanent museum display. Then, in 2015, certain items went up for private auction.

5 Reasons To Invest in Gold


If you’re new to investing, the older hands will tell you it’s both an art and a science. There’s a reason for this: You need an artist’s penchant for risk-taking, but a scientist’s obsession with reality. Obviously, you must know your market; after all, knowledge is power. Particularly when you browse the Web, you’re sure to find reams of text dedicated to the Great Gold Debate: whether the world’s second most precious metal is a worthwhile investment.

The verdict?

The jury’s still out.

Nevertheless, here are five reasons why you should consider gold as a good, smart, long-term investment.

1.   It’s a Hedge

As a rule, seasoned investors are likely to use their investment in gold to offset the decline of a certain currency, and that’s usually the US dollar, but not always. It also serves as protection against resultant inflation. Bear in mind that gold has more than quadrupled in value over the last decade, and given the political and economic volatility in gold producing countries like South Africa, gold’s unlikely to go anywhere else but up.

2.   It’s a Safe Haven

2008’s financial meltdown drove the global investment fraternity into a gold-buying frenzy and the price of the metal shot skywards. Add to this the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone as well as the knock-on effect of domestic issues in the US: the impact of Obamacare, the Wall Street Reform Act and the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011. Any measure of economic uncertainty tends to make gold more attractive – and there’s more than enough of that going round, both domestically and internationally.

3.   Globally, There’s Growing 24-Karat Passion

Frank Holmes, CEO and chief investment officer at U.S. Global Investors, an investment fund based in San Antonio, is waxing lyrical about what he sees as a growing demand for gold ornaments and jewelry in emerging market countries like China and India where the metal is regarded as an important cultural symbol. “Fifty percent of the world’s population believes in gold for love, romances, birthdays,” he argues.

Together, China and India account for the majority of worldwide demand for not only jewelry and ornaments, but also coins and gold bars. In 2014, China actually overtook India as the world’s leading consumer of gold, and the demand remains solid.

4.   It Has a History of Holding Its Value

Gold has a very long and rich history throughout the world and is both respected and valued because of it. Given that it’s been interwoven into numerous cultures for millennia, it’s worth investing in and holding onto for that very reason. Unlike paper currency, coins and other assets, gold retains its value over time and a great many people see it as the best way to preserve their wealth and pass it on from generation to generation.

5.   Supply Constraints

It’s always worth remembering that much of the global market’s gold supply since the 1990s has come from the sales of gold bullion – bars kept in the vaults of the world’s central banks. This practice slowed in 2008 and hasn’t really picked up again. At the same time, according to, the production of new gold from mines has been steadily declining since the turn of the millennium and supply constraints inevitably increase demand as well as price.

In the final analysis – provided you take a long-term view and see your investment in gold accordingly – you can’t really go wrong. Of course, it makes sense that the precious metal should form part of a broader investment portfolio because of its speculative nature in the short term, but as a commodity, gold sets a very high standard indeed.

Did you like this post? Check out “Should We Say Goodbye to the Penny?” and our other great articles.

How the Lost Confederate Gold was Stolen

csa_coinsThe night was typical for late May in Chennault, Georgia: a little humid, but the ground where the Confederate soldiers slept was cool and welcoming. Captain Parker tucked his satchel beneath his head and finally drifted to sleep, worrying about the priceless treasure he was guarding.

His scouts had reported seeing Union cavalry ahead on the road to Augusta, so they had to find another way. He wished this trip were over already.

Hidden in wooden barrels or not, it wasn’t safe to travel with this much treasure.

Midnight Attack

Around midnight, one of the guards was alerted by a rustling sound. Suddenly, ragtag men rushed the wagon. 

“Woohoo!” one of the bushwhackers yelled, kicking a barrel off the back of the wagon. 

This crew wore ragged uniforms of both blue and gray – and there were many of them. The guard stood silently as the crowd descended.

Wealth Beyond Measure

The barrels exploded coins, socks full of specie, and ingots as it hit the hard ground.

Parker awoke to the thud of a man hitting the ground next to him. It was the guard, who’d been struck unconscious by one of the bushwhackers – some of whom stood knee-deep in Confederate gold.

One of the soldiers glanced his way, pulling a revolver from his hip.

“I know you’re tempted to try and stop us, but there’s far more of us than you. We don’t want to kill you. We’ll just be taking payment for our services from this here treasure you were trying to hide. We’ve lost more than this will ever cover, and we don’t give a damn about them frogs!”

Desperate, Hopeless Men

Parker knew many had lost everything in this war. Families, fortunes, and even entire towns had been destroyed, leaving some men had literally nothing to return to.

He knew it was foolish to ask his men to fight for the payment of a war they never wanted, to risk their lives one more time.

He threw up his hands and stood silently, accepting. The bushwhackers loaded their satchels,pockets, boots, and even their canteens with as much loot as they could carry.

The night ended with the sounds of coins hitting the ground like heavy rain drops. As the thieves rode away into the night, loose coins jostled out of their clothes as if to offer payment for compliance.

The Confederate’s massive treasure shipment melted away in that Georgia night. It was never recovered.