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State Cash Resources and State Building in Europe 13th-18th century

Katia Béguin
Anne L. Murphy

Tax or Borrow or Borrow and Tax?


Denis Menjot et Fausto Piola Caselli

Note de l’éditeur

The first part of this introduction was written by Denis Menjot, the second by Fausto Piola Caselli.

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Extrait du texte

When faced with unexpected expenditure or higher than expected costs, political leaders down the ages have had no choice but to resort to taxation or borrowing, or both. Those choices are often constrained by the opportunities available, depending on the level of economic activity and the state of society.

In the last two centuries of the Middle Ages, towns, the papacy and monarchies gradually acquired a fiscal system, i.e. a set of taxation procedures and collection techniques which were combined to ensure that no source of wealth was left untapped. Taxes, initially occasional and improvised, gradually became regular, the methods of collection being defined at the same time as a financial administration was being organized, and more or less coherent management rules were put in place. Created to meet rising public expenditure, taxes were destined to play a part in supporting or hampering economic development, speeding up or blocking social dynamics, and in the origin of administrati...


Denis Menjot is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Lumière-Lyon 2 (France). He is also president of the French Society for Urban History. His research concerns towns and urban societies, and taxes and royal power in medieval Castile. He is the coeditor with Manuel Sánchez Martínez and Pere Verdés of Glossaire critique numérique de fiscalité médiévale ( He has recently published: (with Antonio Collantes) ‘El gasto público en los concejos urbanos castellanos’, in El alimento del estado y la salud de la Res Pública: orígenes, estrucutra y desarrollo del gasto público en Europa, Madrid, Institut de Estudios Fiscales, 2013, pp. 233–274; (with Stéphane Boissellier and Bernard Darbord) Langues médiévales ibériques. Domaines espagnol and portugais, Brepols, L’Atelier du médiéviste, 12, 2013; (with Manuel Sánchez Martínez, eds.), El dinero de Dios, Iglesia y fiscalidad, Madrid, Instituto de Estudios Fiscales, 2011; (with Manuel Sánchez Martínez, eds.) Impôt royal et impôt municipal en péninsule ibérique, Madrid, Casa de Velázquez, 2006.

Fausto Piola Caselli is former professor of Economic History of the Università degli Studi di Cassino (Rome, Italy). He has recently published: ‘Desarollo, declive y crisis de las compañias bancarias italianias, siglos XIII-XVI’, in L. Ma Bilbaso and R. Lanza (eds.), Revista de la historia de la economía y de la empresa, no. 7: Crisis financieras en la Historia, 2013, pp. 31–61; ‘Debito publica e banca publica’, in V. Negri Zamagni and P. L. Porta (eds.), Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero. Economia, Rome, Istituto della enciclopedia italiana, 2012, pp. 194–201; ‘Papal finance 1348–1848’, in G. Caprio (ed.), Handbook of key global financial markets, institutions, and infrastructure, Oxford, Elsevier, 2013, pp. 207–220; ‘The formation of fiscal states in Italy: the Papal States’, in P. O’Brien, B. Yun-Casalila and F. Comín Comín (eds.), The rise of fiscal states: a global history 1500–1914, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 285–303; ‘From private to public management. Tax farming and customs duties in Rome 1630–1700’, in J. I. Ucendo and M. Limberger (eds.), Taxation and debt in the early modern city, London, Pickering and Chatto, 2012, pp. 13–28.

© Institut de la gestion publique et du développement économique, 2017

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