The War within: finance and morality in Europe, 1630-1815

University of Reading

3-4 December 2015




Anne Dubet (Université Blaise Pascal Clermont-Ferrand)


Joel Felix (University of Reading)


The War within: finance and morality in Europe, 1630-1815


Since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, a series of scandals have shaken public confidence in the world of banking and corporate finance, and raised doubts about its accountability and its morality, as well as its ability to provide an efficient and sustainable environment for the peaceful development of nations and citizens in the globalised economy. In seeking to understand the present, commentators have looked back to previous great crises, such as the infamous Tulipmania in Amsterdam (1637), the succession of European Bubbles (1720) or the Wall Street Crash (1929). While these crises and the memory of them had a considerable impact on state policies and public attitudes towards finance and financiers in the short and medium term, they can also be seen as the culmination of longer term changes that challenged the traditional order of things and called for a renegotiation of the relationship between the state, the economy and the public – a debate that, arguably, we need to start today.

This international conference funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF), and with support from the Centre for Economic History (CeCH, University of Reading) and the Centre d’Histoire Espaces et Cultures (CHEC, Université de Clermont-Ferrand), will bring together, at the University of Reading (3-4 December), 15 specialists from 8 countries to examine some of the societal challenges brought about by the costs of the long wars of attrition that engulfed Europe between the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815). While many historical studies have shown that the funding of international warfare had a profound impact on institutional and economic developments, less work has been done on the ways in which European polities responded to the ‘War within’ that pitted those who benefited from war expenditure against those who paid for the military effort. A series of case studies on Spain, Venice, the Dutch provinces, the Austrian Low Countries, Prussia, France, Britain and Sweden will analyse some of the conflicts that arose when the needs and methods of financing war met social demands for morality and accountability. Again, these are fundamental questions that still resonate and have relevance today as governments and societies try to move on from the Global Financial Crisis.


Day 1: Thursday 3 December 2015

9.30-10.00: Registration

10.00-10.15: Welcome and Introduction


10.15-11.30: Session 1. Chair: Dr David Parrott, New College University of Oxford

– Dr Erik Thomson. The University of Manitoba, Canada

Accounting for power: Swedish and French approaches to the harnessing of mercantile interest during the Thirty Years War

– Dr Francisco Gil Martínez, Universidad de Almería, Spain

The fraud encouraged by the state: pardons and “composiciones” in the seventeenth century


11.30-12.00: Break


12.00-13. 15: Session 2 Chair: Dr Helen Paul, University of Southampton

– Dr Brodie Waddell. Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

‘The common subject of all conversation: popular responses to the impact of war on England, 1689-1697’

– Dr David Celetti. University of Padua, Italy

From Candia to Morea (1645-1699). Financial crisis, frauds, controls, and moral discourses in the Republic of Venice


13.15-14.00: Lunch


14.00-15.15: Session 3. Chair: Professor Roger Knight

– Dr Aaron Graham, The University of Oxford, UK

Warfare, Finance and the Morality of Corruption in Britain, 1689-1815

– Dr Robert Bernsee. University of Heidelberg, Germany

For the Good of the Prince. Government and Corruption in Germany during the Long 18th Century


15.15-15.45: Break


15.45-17.00: Session 4. Chair: Professor Anne Dubet, Université Blaise Pascal Clermont-Ferrand, France

– Prof. Agustín González Enciso, Universidad de Navarra, Spain

Spanish eighteenth century contractors: from particular interest to particular state privileges

– Prof. Stephen Conway, University College London, UK

’Economical reform’ revisited: Another look at the battle over British public finance, 1779-1783


17.30-18.30: Guest lecture

Prof. Larry Neal, University of Illinois, USA

The emergence of modern finance, 1789 -1830: a tale of three revolutions.



Day 2: Friday 4 December 2015


9.30-10.00. Registration

10.00-11.15: Session 5 Chair: Dr Frank Tallett, University of Reading

– Dr Patrik Winton, Uppsala University, Sweden

 War, resources and politics: Sweden 1740-1762.

– Prof. Mark Knights, University of Warwick, UK

Offices for sale: Military venality in its wider context


11.15-11.45: Break


11.45-13.00: Session 6 Chair: Prof. Julian Swann, Birkbeck College

– Prof. Marie-Laure Legay, Université Lille 3, France

The question of Counterfeit Money in the Southern Netherlands, 1710-1730

– Dr Francois R. Velde, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, USA

The Talhouët affair: graft and punishment in 1723 France


13.00-14.00 Lunch


14.00-16.00: Session 7. Chair: Dr Tony Moore, University of Reading

– Prof. Anne Dubet, Université Blaise Pascal Clermont-Ferrand, France

Moral standards and negotiation: the Spanish monarchy and its financiers in the first half of the 18th century

– Prof. Julian Hoppit, University College London, UK

British government views of smuggling in the eighteenth century

– Dr Toon Kerkhoff, Institute of Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands

Corruption, state formation and institutional reform in the early modern Netherlands

16.00-16.30: Conclusion. Professor Mark Casson, University of Reading



Queries: Joel Felix and cc.




As a result of the generosity of Sir Peter Thompson, former Chairman of the National Freight Corporation, and the Wellcome Foundation, the BAC has instituted a trust fund, the income from which is used to offer annually a bursary to help an individual to further his/her research into business history through the study of specific business archives. In 2015 the value of the award will be up to £1,000.


Applicants must be engaged in business history research using British-based business archives, normally at least of postgraduate level, with a view to publication of an article or book. Professional scholars and amateur researchers are equally welcome, but preference may be given to scholars at the beginning of their careers who are less able to call on other institutions for funding. Applicants studying for a research degree should identify a specific project based on identifiable archive resources, rather than merely seeking a grant-in-aid of their overall research programme.

Undergraduates, those researching commissioned histories and the members of the BAC’s Executive Committee are not eligible. Family historians and those wishing to work on records or archives not generated by business organisations, even to contextualise business history research, will not be eligible.

It is expected that the successful applicant will submit a short article based on the research to the Council for use on the BAC website or in its Newsletter. This will not preclude publishing elsewhere.



Candidates should indicate: the objectives of their research, which will need to be within the broad field of business history; the nature and location of the specific set of business records they wish to study; a detailed breakdown of costs; the proposed methods of dissemination of the results of their work.


All applications should be received by Friday 12th June at the following address:


Business Archives Council

c/o Karen Sampson, Head of Archives (London)

Lloyds Banking Group Archives and Museums

7th Floor, 155 Bishopsgate

London EC2M 3YB


There is no application form. Candidates should include a brief curriculum vitae as well as the information indicated above. All applications must be typewritten or word-processed and should not exceed five sides of A4.


The decision of the BAC is final. The successful applicant will be informed in writing within ten days of the closing date. The prize will be awarded at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Business Historians Conference, University of Exeter, 3-4 July 2015.

Friday 8 May 2015 from 14.00 – 17.30 in Humanities Building G74 University of Reading, Whiteknights Campus.

Format: Six 20-minute research papers with 10 minutes discussion of each


2.00 Francesco Boldizzone (with Pat Hudson): ‘In Search of Pluralism: The Global Economic History Project (2010-15)’.

2.30 Joel Felix: War finance, profit and morality: Louis XIV’s crackdown on the financiers

3.00. Peter Scott: Bringing Affluence to the Masses; Innovations in production, marketing and value chains for consumer durables in inter-war Britain

3.30 Tea and coffee

4.00 Mike Stringer: Cash or Honour : Investment choices in Roman agriculture

4.30 Costanza Biavaschi: The Americanization of migrants’ names in 1920 New York

5.00 Mark Casson (with Catherine Casson): The economy of medieval cities: Urban property rents in Bristol, 1200-1500

5.30 END (Drinks and Dinner optional)

Conference organised by the Centre for Institutional Performance and the Centre for Economic History.

To be held on Wednesday 22nd April from 09.30 to 17.30 in the Humanities Building G86, University of Reading, Whiteknights Campus.


9.00-9.30 Registration

9.30-10.15 Keynote

Roy Edwards (University of Southampton)

‘Government intervention and the business model for freight: too much too late or too little too early?’

10.15-10.45 Refreshments

10.45-13.00 Carrying before 1850

Dorian Gerhold (University of Roehampton)

‘Road carrying by waggon and packhorse, c.1680-1840’

Carolyn Dougherty (University of York)

‘The carrying trade and the first railways in England’

Pete Maw (University of Leeds)

‘Roads, water and rails: transport methods and the trade between Liverpool and Manchester, 1800-1850’

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-16.15 Road and rail after 1840

John Dodgson (John Dodgson Consulting)‘Rail freight and the national economy, 1842 to 2014’ Tony Atkins (University of Reading)‘Less haste, more speed: the Great Western Railway’s freight policy and practice, ca 1900-14) (title TBC)  Thomas Spain (University of York)‘Milk transport between 1920 and 1945’

16.15-16.30 Break

16.30-17.30 Round table discussion on history and the future of UK distribution

Panel (TBC) includes: Tom Zunder (Newcastle University), Colin Divall (University of York), Roy Edwards (University of Southampton)

Registration is free. To reserve a place please contact Aleiah Burgess-Potter For general enquiries contact Mark Casson



Dr Cristiano Viglietti (Cambridge) will give a research seminar on  ‘The Economy of Archaic Rome: Commonplaces, Challenges, Working Hypotheses’ , on Tuesday 18 November, at 4pm in the Ure Museum here at the University of Reading

This talk is co-sponsored by the Centre for Economic History and the Department of Classics.

Interdisciplinary workshop to mark the appointment of Professor Richard Hoyle as Director of the Victoria County History

Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Henley Business School, University of Reading Whiteknights Campus,

Room G04

1pm – 5pm


1pm:   Lunch & Welcome


1.30pm:Session One

Dr Elizabeth Matthew: ‘Reassessing the Irish “extension” to the Wars of the Roses, 1462’.

Dr Mark Casson: ‘Medieval Urban Rents: A Case Study of Hull’

Dr Rebecca Bullard: ‘Robinson Crusoe and pastoral politics’


3pm: Tea & Coffee


3.15pm: Session Two

Dr Mary Morrissey: ‘John Jewel’s Challenge sermon: the afterlife of Reformation polemic’

Professor Ralph Houlbrooke: ‘Late Elizabethan Swallowfield re-visited’

Dr Janet Dickinson: ‘Richard Hoyle and Tudor Monarchy: a personal approach’


4.45pm: Rev Dr Margaret Yates Richard Hoyle in Reading and Beyond




In order to assist with catering & seating arrangements, please register your attendance by emailing Helen Parish (

For colleagues who may be interested in current research advances which may affect how we understand and practice agency and community within the current field of economic social relations, this inter-disciplinary theoretical conception may be informative. The problem which may be relevant to any settings of structured social organisation (a society, or the relations between two communities with economic and social ties, an organisation, a group, eg the economic and political elites within a field of economy-society) is that there most of our action is based on habits, which were seen in sociology as automatically reproduced, learnt responses, which do not bear a potential to critically change a practice (for the better) or allow individuals to engage in moral reflection of how to improve a practice (and themselves, as citizens and virtuous human beings). Instead, more or less we are inclined to act in ways which reproduce our past habits and past relations. This may mean that within an economic field of social relations agency is viewed in a sadly deterministic way, i.e. not bearing a dynamic possibility to enable further moral and cognitive development of the agents, nor a NEW experience of praxis and agency which dialogues on how all hope to improve the common good in a way which both the weaker and the stronger parties of economic relations prosper and grow. However, my view is more optimistic, insofar as we consider a revised view on habits, which would bring Aristotle closer to sociological thinkers, mainly Bourdieu. This opinion article critically analyses Bourdieu’ s concept of habitus as unconscious action seen to be blocking human freedom and learning which reproduces  social bonds rather than frees the person to learn and practice new habits responsibly based on their evolving biography and social responsibilities and phase of cognitive development. The main concern with Bourdieu’s sociological origin of habitus brought forth in this short theory article published in a journal with a focus on inter disciplinary research advances in human neuroscience, is that despite its merits, it views human action mainly driven by an outside-in internationalisation of learnt habits unreflectively (despite our cognitive illusion that we act thoughtfully and reflectively). Perhaps this explains indeed why the entire social world has not been able to abandon the idea of war as a means of solving disagreements between human communities despite the traumatic experiences of humankind along centuries, especially the 20th one, so this perspective would force to take for granted that we cannot change much in the thoughtfulness and practical wisdom capacity, and overall moral and cognitive capability of agents who co-enact economic relations to act beyond a utilitarian way which legitimizes as “ normal” a defensive, narrowly self-interested kind of agency. Even when Bourdieu argues his theory is not presuming action as purely reproductive of a certain given (current)  status quo, it still considers that individual habitus is “an active residue of (one’s) past” (Swartz, 2002: 63S). The problematic consequence is that it theoretically misses to account for the possibility for human freedom -which can be appreciated by reference to Aristotle, for example, although explaining Aristotle is outside the scope of this article.  To help address this limitation in Bourdieu’s understanding of habitus, this article tries to show here that, in the frame of a dialogical conception, and supported by psychological findings, habitus can be compatible with the social basis of human freedom and learning.



Full reference:  Akrivou, K. & Todorow L. (2014). A dialogic conception of Habitus: Allowing human freedom and restoring the social basis of learning; Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8: 432.  Published online, 17 June 2014,  doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00432



Dr Kleio Akrivou

University office –phone +44 (0)118 378 6475

Inter-disciplinary Research Applied Ethics, Economic History and Moral Psychology

It  may be worthwhile sharing via our blog the news on an exciting inter-disciplinary research in the Centre of Economic History of the University of Reading and Henley Business School’s Centre of Social and Organisational Studies (CSOS).  Specifically on June 17, 2014 I organised an international academic symposium titled “The Challenges of Capitalism for the Common Good”.  The symposium, linking business and applied ethics, economic history and moral/organisational psychology was very successful and stimulated inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional research relations, with 62 academics from Reading, other UK universities,  Spain, Austria, France and other European and US universities.  Reading Academics with key part were Professors Marc Casson and Joel Felix, Dr Lucy Newton, and I (Kleio Akrivou).  Among the prominent international academics who gave the talks were Professor Agustin Enciso (Spain) and Alisdair Dobie (UK), and Professors Daryl Koehn (Minnesota, USA), Alejo Sison (Spain), and Ron Beadle (UK), and Geoff Moore (Durham).

The symposium line of enquiry examined the evolution of ethics and morality from the Aristotelian conception of virtue,  prosperity (eudaimonia) and citizenship  in the classic Greek network of inter-dependent political communities of city-states (polis), through pre-modern, and medieval times in Europe.   The second part of the symposium examined the evolution of ethics and morality of self-interest and rationality in the modern wage labour capitalist economic and social organisation, with a focus on the problem of definition of the common good in economy, society and the firm, and the enquiry on the moral and human psychology which may support virtue ethics within a utilitarian capitalist commercial sphere of exchange and work.  We all loved the insights, the opportunity to share critical informed perspectives and visions for the future, as well as the conversational space allowing shared reflection and research enquiry in the community of participants and the speakers. It was an exciting and very successful event and there is ongoing research synergy now being built across the Economic History Research Centre in the Humanities / Social Sciences and the business School academics on this topic. A great thanks to all who contributed and kindly assisted me in the organisation of this conference!  Kleio Akrivou, Associate Professor of Business Ethics and Organisational Behaviour, Henley Business School (Member of the Centre of Economic History, the University of Reading, UK).

Dr Kleio Akrivou

Uni office phone +44 (0)118 378 6475

This one day research symposium takes place at Henley Business School, the University of Reading on Tuesday 17 June 2014. 

The symposium focuses on the evolution of relations and constructions of moral values in key social classes influencing the definition of common good, and how it affects the economy and society.

The first part of the day is a historical focus on the pre-modern, medieval and modern relations between merchants and kings and their relevance in current challenges of business ethics in a forward-thinking academic community. It explores competing and complementary perspectives on societal perceptions of virtue and morality. Distinguished speakers are Professor Agustín González Enciso, Professor Daryl Koehn, Dr Alisdair Dobie and Prof. Dr H. H. Hoppe.

The second part of the symposium critically reflects and extends current theory on organisational and individual virtue ethics to evaluate assumptions regarding how the firm is governed and managed, and the resulting habituated assumptions on its morality, work and agency of key internal firm stakeholders and individual agents. Speakers will offer thought on changes on the common good and the firm morality to address the current challenges of capitalism for the common good. In the second part of the symposium distinguished speakers are Professor Alejo José Sison, Professor Geoff Moore, Professor Ron Beadle and Dr Kleio Akrivou.

Finally, Professor Mark Casson will provide a synthesis of the accumulated knowledge, including insights from the day.

This event will be hosted by the Centre of Social and Organisational Studies (CSOS), in Henley Business School in association with the Centre of Economic History, the University of Reading. The event is chaired by Dr Kleio Akrivou, Associate Professor of Business Ethics and Organisational Behaviour.

View the full programme including timings

£70 external academic faculty;£25 research student.  £40 UoR / HBS faculty
UoR / Henley research students may have attendance fee waived; upon request.

For further information, please contact:





This is a one day workshop sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Centre de Recherches Historiques (EHESS) with the support of the journal Histoire & Mesure.


09.30. Registration – tea/coffee

10.00. Welcome and introduction

10.15-11.30. Session 1.

Daniel Baugh, Cornell University

Public and Parliamentary Concern, and Unconcern, about British Naval Spending in the Eighteenth Century, 1689-1789’.

Anne L. Murphy, University of Hertfordshire

The performance of public credit during the late eighteenth century


11.45-13.00. Session 2

Rafael Torres-Sanchez, University of Navarra

 Absolutism and fiscal transparency in eighteenth-century Spain.

Alberto Feenstra, University of Amsterdam

Excesses of which state? The sovereign province of Groningen’s failed experiment with the free capital market in Holland, 1660-1761.


14.00-15.15. Session 3

Mathieu Marraud, EHESS-CRH (Paris)

Reducing guilds’ debt in 18th century Paris: royal publicity, liberation and coercion.

Jérome Loiseau, University of Besancon

Knowing as a means of controlling: financial knowledge and its circulation at the end of the Ancien Régime in some French provincial estates


15.45-17.00. Session 4

Patrik Winton, University of Uppsala

Sweden 1750–1830: parliamentary control, public discussions and royal autonomy

Joel Felix, University of Reading

The long march towards public accountability in Europe: hurdles and leaps.

Practical details

Date: 4 April 2014, 10.00-17.30

Venue: University of Reading, Palmer Building 103


Bursaries: a limited number of travel bursaries are available to PG students

Contact: for any question about this event please email Joel Félix (


Booking: There is no fee to attend this event, but places are limited; you are kindly requested to register by emailing Mrs Amanda Harvey (





Daniel Baugh, Cornell University

 Public and Parliamentary Concern, and Unconcern, about British Naval Spending in the Eighteenth Century, 1689-1789’.

The primary focus of public and parliamentary concern about British naval spending changed as the century after 1689 progressed. In 1690s the English people learned to their dismay that they must meet the cost of a very large navy to oppose Louis XIV, who wished to overturn the Revolution of 1688. The rapidly mounting cost was unprecedented and most members of parliament knew they must vote to pay it, but they tried to make sure that the sums would be truly spent on defence of the realm and protection of trade. Mistrust of William III whose strategic thoughts were known to be centred on continental Europe was a constant consideration. William badly needed parliamentary ‘supplies’ (of money) and this enabled the creation of committees and commissions for examining naval accounts which not only inquired into whether the money was truly spent on the navy but also into matters of grand strategy and, sometimes, orders given to fleet commanders.

After 1714 public and parliamentary concern sharply diminished and naval officials were allowed to get away with deliberately obscuring certain details of appropriation, even some very large details. Parliamentary concern about the naval budget was sporadic, sometimes minimal. Before 1714, however, measures publicizing certain statistics had been adopted. Of greatest importance for providing public information was the annual report of the Navy Debt.  Efforts after 1763 s to diminish the growth of the Navy Debt by requiring more realistic Estimates (which could have been done) were short-lived. Near the end of the period reformers commonly focused on accounting questions, most particularly on repositories of cash that officials might be inclined to turn to private profit.  One aim of the paper will be to explain the reasons for the changing nature and level of concern during the century.

Anne L. Murphy, University of Hertfordshire

The performance of public credit during the late eighteenth century

Thanks to the work of scholars like Craig Muldrew and Margot Finn, much is now known about the negotiation of personal credit relationships. In particular, we can see how direct contact and observations allowed individuals to assess the credit-worthiness of those with whom they had financial connections and to whom they might lend money. Much less is known about one of the most important credit relationships of the long eighteenth century: that between the state and its creditors. How did those who lent money to the state in the form of annuities, consols and through the purchase of lottery tickets scrutinise and assess the state’s credit-worthiness? What were the signifiers that told savers that their money would be safe in Parliament’s hands?

This paper aims to examine one aspect of this question: the performance of public credit as displayed at the Bank of England during the late eighteenth century. By this time the Bank was the manager of nearly three quarters of the state’s debt and it housed the main secondary market in that debt. Thus, it provided a place for public creditors, both current and potential, to attend and scrutinise the performance of the state’s promises. The paper will demonstrate how the Bank acted to embody public credit through its architecture, internal structures and imagery, and the very visible actions of its clerks and the technologies that they used to record ownership and transfer of the national debt. The Bank, by those means, allowed creditors to interrogate the financial stability and reputation of the state in the same ways that they could interrogate the integrity of a potential private debtor.

Rafael Torres-Sanchez, University of Navarra

 Absolutism and fiscal transparency in eighteenth-century Spain.

Studies of the public management of taxation and finance matters have tended to focus on legislation and the political structure. There would nonetheless seem to be a glaring difference between state intentions and real practice. Our objective here is to assess the gap between political speeches and actual implementation of policies. Working from a specific tax hike in the second half of the eighteenth century in Spain, we look at which arguments were used or facts hushed up to justify a change, how the political regime might constrain these arguments and how, finally, the information on the process was manipulated to woo public opinion. We argue that legislation was by no means synonymous with actual application of policies precisely because it had to be communicated to society.

Alberto Feenstra, University of Amsterdam

Excesses of which state? The sovereign province of Groningen’s failed experiment with the free capital market in Holland, 1660-1761.

Work in progress. Please do not quote or cite without permission.

The Dutch Republic is frequently depicted as proto-democratic state, in which creditors were able to secure property rights due to their control over public finance (Tracy 1985; Stasavage 2011; Van Zanden en Prak, 2013). Furthermore, the Dutch economy is  characterised as modern, consisting of well-functioning integrated markets for commodities and production factors (De Vries and Van der Woude 1995/1997, Petram 2011).  Yet these studies fail to take into account the federalist nature of the Dutch Republic. This paper will demonstrate that the control over public finance was at best limited to the creditors’ own province, by analysing the default by the sovereign province of Groningen during the 1680’s, at the expense of its creditors living in the province of Holland. It is furthermore argued that Groningen’s sovereignty within the federalist structure was the essential condition both for the province’s default and the market’s inability to punish the province after its failed experiment on the free capital market.

Jérôme Loiseau, Université de Besancon

Knowing as a means of controlling: financial knowledge and its circulation at the end of the Ancien Régime in some provincial estates.

At the end of the Ancien Régime, the French central administration (controle general des finances) closely scrutinised the expenditure of provincial estates in order to sustain the ability of the latter to raise loans for the State. In the years 1776-1786, a variety of new forms of documentation  which sought to shed light on provincial finances were published in Burgundy, Brittany and Languedoc, regions where the provincial estates were still very much alive and active. The estates published tables of revenue, expenditure and loans, as well as accounting documents which were more and more accurate/of a greater and greater degree of accuracy. This administrative literature, such as the Précis des Etats de Bourgogne or Dictionnaire de la Bretagne, served a similar purpose to the Encyclopédie: the rationalisation of administration through knowledge and critical assessment. In Languedoc and Burgundy, this enlightened agenda went hand in hand with new proposals calling for radical fiscal reform. During this pre-revolutionary period, the endless quest for money, and thus to raise and service provincial loans, created the conditions for the emergence of fiscal transparency through the publication of pre-statistical data and nurtured a lively fiscal debate.

Mathieu Marraud, CRH-EHESS

Reducing guilds’ debt in 18th century Paris: royal publicity, liberation and coercion.

The Royal Treasury in the 18th century never stopped looking for new ways of funding the war effort. Among others, corporate bodies such as the guilds were asked to come to the support of the king. For guilds’ revenue put them in a position to service loans worth dozens of millions. The aim of this paper is to look at the work of a royal commission – the Commission pour la révision des comptes des communautés d’arts et métiers – which was set up in1716 to examine the financial situation of the guilds, and a number of subsequent royal decrees issued in the 1740s. The paper will show how the commission used its power to closely monitor and impose a number of constraints on the origin and destination of guilds’ revenue, expenditure and debt. Financial control by the state was used as a method to facilitate the political integration of guilds into royal administration. In this context, transparency meant making use of sovereign power to force guilds into releasing their accounts and denying them corporate autonomy in the management of their debt, which thus became/was declared to be public debt. In this respect, the king’s debts made it possible to take control of corporate bodies which initially had consented to act as intermediaries for the consolidation of the king’s credit.

Patrik Winton, University of Uppsala

Sweden 1750–1830: parliamentary control, public discussions and royal autonomy

In 1766, the Swedish Diet, which controlled the government’s finances, decided to implement a Freedom of the Press Act, which abolished pre-publication control of secular publications, as well as introduced the principle of open access to government documents. The principle of open access meant that most documents from the Diet, the Council, the civil service and the law courts became accessible to citizens who wished to publish them in print. These decisions were part of a process of dealing with the financial and political effects of Sweden’s participation in the Seven Years’ War. By contrast, the coup d’état in 1772 significantly strengthened the powers of the king. A more divided fiscal authority emerged, which led to struggles between the political elite and the king regarding the financial affairs of the state and the mechanisms of financial control. The king tried to protect his political autonomy, while the elite tried to reduce the king’s maneuverability.

This paper will examine Swedish developments from around 1750 to 1830 in relation to the struggles concerning financial control and transparency. The Swedish case is particularly interesting since it can problematize the process of transition from an absolutist financial regime to a more liberal constitutional one. Parliamentary control and financial openness could be revoked and there was no guarantee that a sovereign would not try to regain his autonomy in financial matters.

Joel Félix, University of Reading

What public? The long march towards public accountability: hurdles and leaps forward in early modern France.

Public accountability is a central concept of western polities and institutions. Although French revolutionaries included the principle of public accountability in the Declaration of the Rights of the man of 1789, it would take several more decades before transparency would become the cornerstone of European modern politics and efficient economic systems. This paper will examine the cultural and political conditions which delayed but also made this transition possible in 18th century Europe.



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