The question of ‘nodes’ in the Armenian commercial network, it is argued here, cannot be separated from a larger process, which helped places such as Madras to rise as alternatives to New Julfa, from as early as the beginning of the eighteenth century. The network of Armenian commerce did not have a single strong centre with many peripheries, but a chain of multiple nodes functioning as crucial linking points. This paper focuses on one particular trade route, from Madras to Manila, in the eighteenth century. The Philippines attracted Spanish American silver, which was then pumped into various regional economies of Asia – China and India in particular – in the shape of investment. A Spanish ban on European shipping at Manila made Armenians (and Indians) indispensable partners for European trade to Manila. This gave Armenian trade to Manila a strong European flavour. Armenians helped to camouflage this trade, and enriched themselves from it at the same time, operating often independently of New Julfa.
However an active network once frustrated always has a tendency to compensate for its losses. Driven out of one region, it may press its capital and the advantages it offers upon another. This seems at any rate to have been the rule whenever a really vigorous and accumulative form of capitalism was concerned.1