The gold and silver in medieval European churches and palaces came from the New World. Between 1500 and 1650 180 to 200 tons were added to European treasuries, a value of over $2.8 billion in 1988. Between 1492 and 1542 16,000 tons of silver entered Europe, $3.3 billion in 1988. At first the gold and silver were stolen from the Native Americans on the continent. Then it was mined by Native American slaves. As they died off, the mining was continued by African slaves. This wealth was carried off to Europe by Spanish galleons.
From Spain the wealth spread through Europe. For the first time there was something other than land that provided wealth, leading to the new merchant and capitalist classes. It made possible a world economy for the first time.