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

Katia Béguin
Anne L. Murphy


Pierre-Cyrille Hautcœur

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1Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, I am very honoured but also worried to be asked not to draw conclusions, still less derive lessons, but perhaps to offer some suggestions from the one-and-a-half-day conference which is now ending.

2First I would like to say that, in my view, contemporary decision-makers and economists have a vast amount to learn from what has been said since yesterday: obviously not from the detail of each specialist contribution, but from the way in which, taken together, they provide an alternative viewpoint to current economic thought. Behind a great deal of erudition, behind the sophisticated skills needed to make sense of the remaining evidence of the very complex practices of financiers, statesmen and organizations in past centuries, we find a universe of possibilities much larger than the one in which we are confined by the concepts, theories, institutions and empirical observations that we economists encounter every day. The chance to see our practices in perspective, in both time and space, is essential when we have to embark on a fundamental reappraisal of the functions, legitimacy and organization of modern states. In showing us the variety of political models and the relationships between those models and forms of public finance, in letting us understand the diverse ways in which they developed, we are helped to avoid the simplistic transposition of models ill-suited to our context, which would restrict our freedom of thought simply because we were unaware of the specific context in which they emerged.

3I therefore consider this conference important for the policy-makers of today, and for economists too. It is especially important in that it casts doubt on an orthodox model of relations between public finances and political systems which had gradually gained ground over the past twenty years. I would like to centre these few remarks on that model.

4The characteristic of an orthodox model is that it gives the impression of evidence, the impression that we now know what we need to do thanks to the causal relationships which seem well established, both in theory and historically. In our case, this also involves a typical model that views history as progress and the gradual spread of knowledge on the basis of very clear information, a history of methods of public finances progressing steadily from the Italian city-states to the present day, reaching its peak, its resolution, in eighteenth-century England. That model has been widely criticized for a number of years, but remains dominant because it is simple and seductive, and there is no alternative. I believe that this conference has shown that we are starting to construct alternative scenarios, and in that sense it is important.

I. Political Construction: the Result of War?

5But before examining this model in more detail and considering the contribution of our conference towards its enlargement, I would like to suggest ways in which the history of Europe over the past five centuries is essential for thinking about the European project today.

6Of course, whatever some of the great founders may have hoped, the European project cannot imitate the construction of any particular European state in the past. As historiography tells us, and as this conference has reminded us, the major political transformations such as the creation of the European states took place through war. Financial innovations were necessary because of the cost of war, and they contributed to the development of taxes as they did to state powers in general. The European project would never have happened without three major wars: the two world wars provided the initial, extremely powerful impetus, and that has remained a factor for fifty years. The Cold War helped to unify Europe in the face of the Soviet threat, though that ended more than twenty years ago.

7Before the crisis which began in 2008, the idea was to construct a political Europe, but as the impetus of those initial wars faded over time, and with the enlargement of the Union, that aim seemed unattainable – or simply undesirable. Today, the crisis poses the question again. For example, we know that people often cite the theory of optimum currency areas, which suggests that a common fiscal policy is necessary to supplement a single monetary policy if the movement of workers and capital remains imperfect. The question of a European budget therefore arises, and hence possibly a European debt, which certainly requires a strong political Europe, capable in particular of creating taxation to guarantee that debt.

8Yet after five years of the most serious post-war crisis yet experienced, we can see that economic reasoning is not enough to trigger structural political transformation. And we again wonder whether war is necessary. There is currently no military threat which could unify Europe vis-à-vis the rest of the world. True, the crisis is rekindling conflicts within Europe: both between Germany (an exporter and a creditor) and ‘southern’ Europe, and conflict for non-economic reasons. Are these conflicts capable on their own of transforming the European Union? Admittedly, history tells us that many European states were created in attempts to pacify their feudal lords, but it does not look as if the conflicts within Europe are likely to degenerate, nor that arbitration by Brussels would be readily acceptable. Perhaps the implication is that we must not expect an increase in European political integration on the model of the nation states, not even the federal ones. Another possibility is that the threats are of a different order. The papers presented at this conference did not go into that in depth, and yet I would have liked to learn more from my historian colleagues on what war really is, especially in the modern age.

  • 1 D. Stasavage, Public debt and the birth of the democratic state: France and Great Britain 1688–1789(...)

9War, particularly in the twentieth century, is the confrontation between two established states. But what about war between states which are still not fully constructed, as used to be the case? In those days, was it not so that, rather than a confrontation between two well-established states, war was a means of power and enrichment – by the use of public resources and external military confrontation – for groups within states, groups wanting to go to war, groups that benefited from war while others suffered as a result?1 Is not war an instrument of redistribution within states, within these entities which, on the programme for this conference, all seem totally complete and unified? Was it not only after the Treaties of Westphalia that war was seen as a unanimous confrontation between one state and another? Is not that perspective itself the outcome of political will, a desire to create nation states and to secure exclusive political power for them? And does it not only partially represent the European political reality, both before and after the Treaties of Westphalia, and probably still today?

10If war is something other than the confrontation between two fully formed nation states within which there is a consensus on fighting the great enemy next door, perhaps we need to ask questions today about other forms of conflict, other tensions in our societies, which could play a role similar to that performed by war in the past, and possibly requiring forms of European political integration.

  • 2 Katia Béguin, Les princes de Condé. Rebelles, courtisans et mécènes dans la France du Grand Siècle, (...)

11For example, many big multinationals do not have interests connected directly with any particular state. They defend their interests (and those of their shareholders) not only against their competitors but also against all the interest groups (such as environmental lobbies) that may get in the way of their profits. Their troops and the resources that they mobilize (they occasionally use this military vocabulary themselves) enable them to engage in confrontations which are not in any way military (with few exceptions), but which, in order to increase their power, mobilize resources comparable to or even greater than those deployed in many past wars. Nowadays, some business leaders are called condottiere. For many of our Italian colleagues, that term evokes a past when political control was prey to mercenaries, and therefore available to the highest bidder. Today, some companies try to take control of weak states and perhaps even some that are not so weak, in order to secure advantages (in regard to taxes, regulations, etc.), just as in the past – as ably demonstrated by Katia Béguin – there were great noble families who were capable of switching from the ‘service’ of the king of France to the service of the king of Spain (and even back again), and acting on various fronts according to their own alliances and interests, even as the construction of the sovereign state was in progress.2

12This question of war and other forms of political conflict which, though less acute, are just as present and significant cannot, in my view, be totally set aside. And we need more history, not less, in order to gain a better understanding of the links which may exist between the creation of taxes, the creation of debt and the construction of the state.

II. Financial Markets and Parliaments: an English Model?

  • 3 Peter G. M. Dickson, The financial revolution in England. A study in the development of public cred (...)

13That said, I would like perhaps to return to the heart of the subject by discussing that model to which I have just alluded and which is familiar to everyone here, though I will briefly describe it. It is the model of England’s Glorious Revolution, or the English financial revolution.3

14This very simple model states that England succeeded in increasing taxation and borrowing on a massive scale. As a result, it was able to defeat countries with much greater military power, particularly France. In addition, England was the economic victor in the industrial revolution. Briefly, the explanation put forward is this. As a result of the 1688 revolution – which in that context is rarely called the invasion but rather the Glorious Revolution – a parliament was set up with control over the monarchy’s power. As a result, lenders were reassured because they knew that people connected with them controlled parliament and would raise the taxes necessary to repay the debt. That led to a simultaneous and therefore stable increase in the debt and in taxation, which financed the navy, thus ensuring victory and the protection of the trade which generated wealth.

15Apart from the parliament, the other crucial institution of this ‘financial revolution’ was the Bank of England, created a few years after the fall of the Stuarts, in 1694. By formally establishing a kind of coalition of state creditors as a company, it reinforced their authority over the state itself, and in so doing, increased the state’s borrowing power beyond what it would have been in the absence of these powerful controls. By adding the unification of the public debt – which came a little later, though the seeds were already there – and the development of a public debt market made possible by that unification, this facilitated the circulation and hence the liquidity of the debt, boosting its value and therefore reducing the cost of borrowing. This reduction in the cost of the debt further reinforced the state’s borrowing capacity.

16All this enabled England to take on debt in proportions that would scandalize any responsible European politician nowadays because, following the Napoleonic wars, the English debt was well in excess of 200% of gross national product. And yet, that debt was repaid in gold, i.e. in a currency that does not depreciate, and without the lenders paying heavy taxes on their interest. The repayment period was long (a century), but in view of the liquidity and soundness of the claim, that did not matter to the creditors. Finally, the industrial revolution occurred in England despite this high public debt and heavy taxes, which suggests that private investment was not supplanted by public borrowing. For many English people, the financial revolution, together with the Glorious Revolution of which it is the financial counterpart, is therefore the source of the unique destiny that, for a time, made England the world’s leading economic and political power.

17This model, that views parliamentary and financial institutions as the drivers of power and growth, was recently resurrected, in particular by Douglass North, but it is very old: it is what Voltaire, Turgot and Necker describe with enthusiasm and wish to emulate, comparing it to the inadequate taxation, disorderly royal finances, defects and expedients of the French monarchy. It is a model which has great influence today, not only among economic historians but also – via effective channels such as the liberal weekly journal, The Economist – among the public authorities that govern the world. From a technical angle, this model is very simple. It essentially assumes that the state’s creditors are face-to-face with the state. There is an infinite timescale, people who are perfectly rational, who calculate and say ‘if the state does this, I will react as follows, and that way I’ll avoid any harassment by the state’.

18This model is totally coherent, and it is powerful, but it may depend on a finalist and anachronistic retrospective view, and it is probably irrelevant for understanding the modern age if we think over everything that we have been told during the past two days. I would therefore like to give a brief review of the problems afflicting this model, which cause me to believe that it is no longer relevant either for analysing history or as a decision-making tool for contemporary politicians.

19This conference has shown in detail that the institutions controlling the expenditure of the ruling monarchy were not invented by, or specific to, England at the end of the seventeenth century and in the eighteenth century. Such institutions existed throughout Europe; they were usually representative of variable categories of persons, but always primarily the elites and hence the lenders. There was no significant change in that respect in 1688.

20Moreover, large public debts existed in Italy from the fourteenth century. They became substantial from the sixteenth century in certain city-states and in countries such as Spain, both Castilian Spain and the Spain of Aragon. In that regard, too, England in the late seventeenth century was a country adopting the best practices which had largely emerged elsewhere, rather than a place of radical innovation. Of course, there were forms of innovation, but many of the good practices already existed long before. In England as elsewhere, debts were guaranteed by taxes created by institutions which had long been municipal rather than national. The pre-eminence of London, a great port, industrial city and political capital, was probably a decisive factor in England’s success.

21Moreover, the increase in taxation in England was not something that dated from the 1688 revolution. Together with the reorganization of public finances, it had largely begun in a more general way under the Stuarts. Finally, while there was a unified market in the public debt in eighteenth-century England, an efficient market with low interest rates, the same applied in many regions of Europe, where markets operated under relatively similar conditions.

  • 4 Jérémie Barthas, L’argent n’est pas le nerf de la guerre. Essai sur une prétendue erreur de Machiav (...)
  • 5 David Stasavage, States of credit: size, power and the development of European polities, Princeton, (...)

22The Bank of England itself was only very partially an innovation. Well before that, the Casa di San Giorgio had been performing many of its functions as a coalition of lenders, collecting some of the taxes, paying the coupons, and circulating securities. Machiavelli admired the Casa di San Giorgio and at the same time was worried that it might become a kind of state within the state.4 Many Englishmen experienced the same worry in the centuries that followed the creation of the Bank of England because, while the English parliament was shared between the landed nobility and the urban bourgeoisie, the Bank was largely in the hands of London merchants. And although the English parliamentary system might be attractive compared to the representation by the orders of the French Estates-General (which actually disappeared in 1614), it was no more democratic than the French parliaments, and much less so than the urban representative institutions which were widespread in Europe.5

III. Centralization or Decentralization?

23All these remarks point to the suggestion that if there is an ideal model of financial and political development, combining the political representation of the urban elite creditors, the acceptance of taxation and public borrowing capacity, that model did not originate in seventeenth-century England, but developed gradually in the Flemish and Italian cities, it aided the development of small states, but also large ones such as Spain in the Golden Age, before perhaps being systemized and fully articulated in the Dutch United Provinces, and hence in England. The exceptional development of this model resulted there from the nature of the small English kingdom, which was administratively and politically more homogeneous and centralized than the other European states, where local autonomies remained strong even under so-called absolute monarchies. Rather than resulting from the choice of an ideal model, it was due to the successful transformation into a national problem (and into a conflict with Louis XIV’s France) of internal political problems which were initially religious (Protestants versus Catholics) and dynastic but also social (merchant cities versus the countryside), and the use of the French and papist threat to impose a political and financial model controlled by the elite, capable of supplying the financial resources to address that threat, be it real or imaginary. This combination of factors was enough to silence the vague desire for local autonomy or any remaining dissenting voices.

24This conference has revealed the lasting strength of local autonomies elsewhere, and how, despite this great difference from the English model, local autonomy did not prevent the development of public finances, but was probably even the facilitating factor in certain cases, including in states with a large number of towns and cities. Indeed, in order to borrow, states relied on the credibility and fiscal legitimacy of the institutions representing those towns and cities, where regular taxation was introduced very early on.

25The examples examined here are numerous. Castile, Aragon, the Habsburg Empire and the Papal States are four key instances of central power, varying in strength and identified to a greater or lesser extent with a particular region: to a fairly small degree in the case of Aragon, more so in the Papal States. The central power was able to organize the collection of taxes while delegating much of that to the towns, leaving them to choose the form of taxation and the technical arrangements for collecting the taxes, and simply asking them to contribute pre-defined amounts.

26As we have seen, this decentralized model can be stable and may endure for centuries, permitting not only the creation of taxes, but also an increase in the level of taxation and borrowing guaranteed by future revenues. Despite everything, perhaps because of competition between towns (though that remains to be clarified), that model probably did not permit such a substantial tax levy as the centralized Anglo-Dutch model. More seriously – but that is another question – it may have led to insufficient economic integration, in the absence of a central state powerful enough to impose the abolition of barriers to the movement of goods and capital. In any case, it certainly seems that this model of a locally anchored financial market curbed the integration of the financial market between towns, even though the merchants were sometimes inventive enough to remedy that. That has yet to be clarified.

27In fact, it is probable that the decisive feature of the centralized model is to be found in the bank rather than in taxation or borrowing – even if the bank in turn reinforces the debt. These polycentric states, which were common in Europe, rarely had a national bank capable of providing all the liquidity that the sovereign required, and thus reinforcing the credibility of the debt in order to absorb short-term shocks. But the absence of such banks is very revealing, politically, because when a bank of issue, or even just a bank supported by the Treasury, emerges it becomes so powerful that it forces centralization. We are familiar with the debates surrounding the creation of a central bank in the United States from 1776 to 1836, a debate that the anti-federalists lost and which was never again called into question until the succession of bank crises that culminated in 1907. The Bank of England was at the centre of such debates – concealed more effectively by the victors under nationalist flags – and similar controversy blocked attempts to create a national bank in France in 1720 until the revolution brought centralization.

28These examples all have their points of interest, and it is a good thing to bear in mind nowadays that the creation of a national bank is not only the precondition for monetary unification with its obvious benefits for transactions. It is really very difficult to create a central bank without delegating excessive powers to it. The current debates over the European Central Bank and the need to make it responsible for the regulation and supervision of the entire European banking system should draw lessons from European banking history.

29History shows us that banks capable of ensuring liquidity can be established both outside and within a currency zone, though of course they will have very different characteristics and political implications. The liquidity of the king of Spain in the sixteenth century was ensured by Genoese bankers. The interplay which then became established between the state, the banks and the towns levying the taxes and providing long-term loans is complicated, but it is worth examining: because if the state was tempted to borrow as much as possible and then default, here it was not prevented from doing so by the control of a parliament dominated by the creditors, as it was in the English model. Yet it was prevented from doing so in the long term by the need to maintain credibility with the towns and in the short term by the risk of a widespread banking crisis which would affect the entire economy. In this way, the state also presented a credible threat to the towns (the risk of a liquidity crisis), while the bankers were unaffected, retaining their power of liquidity and mobility. There were thus three types of player involved (with bankers and towns competing among themselves), leading to an interdependence between each pair of players and stabilizing the system as a whole.

30It was therefore all the aspects of political power that were operating behind the kind of financial organization which developed in modern-day Europe.

IV. Politics Versus the Markets

31European history sheds light on another dimension and obliges us to think about it by making the practices look strange even though they are familiar: that dimension concerns the relationship between politics and the markets, a relationship which is inevitably present behind the capital markets, even though there has been little reference to it at this conference.

32If we want to get away from the finalism of the liberal model, we thus have to consider the constant efforts of the debt markets throughout history to maintain a balance between the two dimensions, namely between market expansion and intervention aimed at social and political stability.

33In its progressive approach, the traditional liberal view tries to separate aspects relating to the economy from aspects relating to politics by asserting the need for free markets, and their economic efficiency, in the economic sphere, and the segregation of the social aspects, formerly left to charity and nowadays to tax redistribution. All political meddling in the operation of the markets in the name of ‘fair pricing’ is said to belong to an outdated (Catholic) religious view, while history is heading towards market expansion and increasing freedom.

  • 6 David R. Weir, ‘Tontines, public finance and revolution in France and England 1688–1789’, Journal o (...)

34The operation of the debt markets in the modern age is instructive here. On the one hand, financial assets are issued and traded on markets with varying degrees of organization, but based on arrangements very similar to the teachings of current financial manuals. The substantial, homogeneous debt issued by major borrowers wanting to take advantage of their debt’s liquidity to cut their borrowing costs (the English crown, for example) is the ideal medium for these markets, and the markets are organized for that type of debt, with the systematic broadcasting of prices, and legal innovations to facilitate both the protection of bearers and their anonymity – despite the apparent contradiction. On the other hand, public borrowers try to maintain the ability to intervene in the markets – for reasons which cannot all be readily admitted. Sometimes they do so by legal means: as in the case the annuity issued by the state in France up to the twentieth century, which was classed as real estate by its intended use. While it originated from circumvention of the ban on usury which, in the fourteenth century, consisted in passing off a financial asset as a quasi-real asset, it would not have persisted through the centuries without being useful to society: better protection for ‘widows and orphans’, which was quite often justification for introducing this obstacle to liquidity and therefore to the optimum functioning of the market. More profoundly, as David Weir demonstrated, the eighteenth-century French state tried both to expand the financial market and to issue debt targeting specific social categories (e.g. via tontines and life annuities), debt with characteristics limiting its tradability.6 Admittedly, it did so in part to use its market power on segments where other borrowers could not compete, but doubtless also for political reasons: namely, the power to organize partial restructuring, if desired, with an unequal impact on the various creditors, and thus to manage the debt politically.

35That practice scandalized observers – the Genoese bankers in those days, and economists today – who saw it as impeding the choices that would take place on a free market. But in some respects that practice anticipated the political management of the social debt which plays a major role in every modern democracy: any change decided for political reasons concerning the financial conditions of pay-as-you-go pension systems in fact similarly constitutes political management of a public debt. The difference is that, today, the two types of public debt – social and financial – are more clearly distinguished. Nevertheless, political compromises necessarily still set one against the other. When a private bank uniting the bankers dominates the government, the financial debt necessarily takes priority over all other debt. If the influence of the bankers and financiers diminishes in favour of the unions, the financial debt risks being eclipsed in favour of the political or social debt, as happened in the twentieth century when the world wars imposed such a solution and the resulting mass redistribution from creditors to debtors, at the expense of destroying the financial market to the detriment of growth. Whenever we examine history over the past three centuries, we find an attempt to strike a balance between the two. Obviously, in times of crisis or periods of tension, that adjustment is tested every day because every day, it is necessary to choose between favouring one or the other a little more. We can see our governments routinely doing this every day.

36One of the recent, crucial advances in historical research on the debt markets has been to show the great difficulty, even for a powerful government, in permanently preventing the tradability of the debt – and hence the increase in the grip held by the markets – without destroying the markets. Even instruments which appear to lend themselves very little to trading, are in fact traded indirectly, in secret, so that the model of purely political management probably makes no sense. To proceed from that to the idea that the pure financial management model is best is a step too far, as that model suffers not only from its natural indifference to social problems, but also inevitably from the defects resulting from the distance between the ideal market and the real market: abuse of insider information and dominant positions existed then just as they do today. An example presented by Anne Murphy is particularly clear on this subject. Even within the Bank of England, the place where the credibility of the state and the debt was demonstrated every day, some employees used to speculate on public debt securities, an obvious conflict of interests and an abuse of privileged information. Elsewhere, opaque and uncontrolled debt markets developed, where illegitimate profits were made, and which the courts could only struggle to correct retrospectively. The whole of the public debt was liable to be affected.

37The wide diversity of models, the multiple instruments deployed: these historical observations all reaffirm the necessary link between debt management and politics.

V. Construction of Fiscal and Financial Authorities: According to Weber

38At the heart of the relationship between finance and government there is one point that did not give rise to much discussion at this conference. It is the more precise description and analysis of administrative practices, the way in which the tax authorities and debt management authorities are constructed, and the way in which they gradually collect the information they need to operate efficiently.

39During the period that we considered, there was an absolutely radical change in that area. We started in the thirteenth century, a time when there were virtually no real authorities. Some countries had a monetary authority which little by little succeeded in unifying the currency and ensuring the dominance of certain currencies in circulation, prohibiting the vassals from producing coins, imposing an accounting currency, in particular via the fiscal and judicial system. But there was no real tax authority.

40Over the long term, these tax authorities developed in a great variety of ways, which continued to reflect – among other problems – the tension between, on the one hand, the need to use local knowledge of wealth and income and to delegate tax collection at local level, and on the other hand, the need to route the information back to the centre, in order to have access to part of the revenue and to take decisions on the apportionment of taxes among the provinces. This desire to centralize the information met resistance from the local representatives who wanted both to demonstrate that they must not be too heavily taxed and at the same time to conceal that information as much as possible, to prevent the ruling power from adjusting and increasing the taxes.

41This interaction is central to the development of a tax system; it has been examined many times, but has not given rise to any systematic approach enabling us to derive genuine lessons. Such an exercise would require better coordination between the two disciplines which have engaged in the dialogue during this conference, although perhaps not to the extent necessary: between historians, who rightly refuse to compare figures produced by a different method on each occasion, and economists who believe that they can derive relevant results from figures even without any detailed knowledge of how they have been produced.

42When we look at the sources relating to the modern age in many countries, it is obvious not only that these sources are fragmentary, but also that they are often deliberately incomplete. This means that the very possibility of collecting information at state level was so contrary to the interests of a number of players that it was clearly inconceivable for them to contribute. This interaction between the construction of this information and its secrecy is very important. In particular, if we want to increase the tax burden, it is essential to be able to make comparisons between regions. That is only possible if we can construct this information. One of the main weaknesses and vulnerabilities of decentralized political models is perhaps that they have not ultimately succeeded in reconciling the regions when it was a question of increasing taxation. It was always possible to impose the burden of taxation on those who could most easily be made to bear it, probably to the detriment of national cohesion.

43In my view, we could put still more effort into this subsequently, and resolve part of the uncertainty by more systematic modelling of the behaviour of the various parties, including in regard to the production of the information.

44I would like to end there, with this multiplicity of political and social aspects of tax and the public debt, making them much more than financial instruments in the service of a state. They are components in the construction of the state and its political development. I think that is as true today as it was during the period that we have enjoyed learning about over the past two days. We still have much to learn from the history of modern Europe, and this is a subject that will long require cooperation on the part of many different disciplines: what we have learnt so far should be enough to motivate many new researchers.


1 D. Stasavage, Public debt and the birth of the democratic state: France and Great Britain 1688–1789, Cambridge (Mass.), Cambridge University Press, 2003.

2 Katia Béguin, Les princes de Condé. Rebelles, courtisans et mécènes dans la France du Grand Siècle, Seyssel, Champ Vallon, 1999, re-issued 2012.

3 Peter G. M. Dickson, The financial revolution in England. A study in the development of public credit 1688–1756, London, Macmillan Press, 1967; John Brewer, The sinews of power. War, money and the English state 1688–1783, London, Unwin Hyman, 1989; Douglass North and Barry Weingast, ‘Constitutions and commitment: evolution of the institutions governing public choice in seventeenth century England’, Journal of Economic History, 49 (4), 1989, pp. 803–832; Michael J. Braddick, The nerves of the state. Taxation and the financing of the English state 1558–1714, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1996; Patrick O’Brien, ‘The political economy of British taxation 1660–1815’, Economic History Review, 41 (1), 1988, pp. 1–32; Patrick O’Brien, ‘Fiscal exceptionalism: Great Britain and its European rivals. From Civil War to triumph at Trafalgar and Waterloo’, working paper 65/01, London School of Economics, October 2001.

4 Jérémie Barthas, L’argent n’est pas le nerf de la guerre. Essai sur une prétendue erreur de Machiavel, Rome, École française de Rome, 2011.

5 David Stasavage, States of credit: size, power and the development of European polities, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2011.

6 David R. Weir, ‘Tontines, public finance and revolution in France and England 1688–1789’, Journal of Economic History, 49, 1989, pp. 95–124.


Pierre-Cyrille Hautcœur is Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has recently published: (with Angelo Riva and Eugene N. White), ‘Floating a ‘lifeboat’: the Banque de France and the crisis of 1889’, Journal of Monetary Economics, 65, July 2014, pp. 104–119; (with Paolo di Martino), ‘Bankruptcy law and practices in European perspective 1880–1914’, Enterprise and Society, 14 (3), 2013, pp. 579–605; (with Angelo Riva), ‘The Paris financial market in the 19th century: complementarities and competition in microstructures’, Economic History Review, 65, 2012, pp. 1326–1353; (ed.), Le marché financier français au XIXe siècle (vol. 1: Récit), Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 2007.

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