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‘The whole art of war is reduced to money’: remittances, short-term credit and financial intermediation in Anglo-Dutch military finance, 1688–1713

  • Pepijn Brandon (a1)
Abstract

The literature on the financial revolution and the rise of the English fiscal-military state frequently gives the impression that a singular set of reforms emanating from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 changed the entire landscape of English army finances, allowing a fundamental shift from patchwork solutions based on short-term credit and managed through a system of wholesale venality to a solid system of long-term funded loans raised on an impersonal market. This article focuses on the crucial role that merchant networks and the personal connections of financial intermediaries continued to play in international troop payments arranged by the English state through the Dutch Republic. Even when the English or Dutch treasuries could find the necessary money to pay and provision the troops in time, getting the money to the military commanders in the field or to their distant suppliers often depended on long and complex credit lines. Short-term loans acquired in making military expenditure – consisting of unpaid bills to suppliers, payments advanced by officials and officers, and temporary loans contracted by financial intermediaries – as well as the widespread reliance on commercial credit in the form of bills of exchange as a way to transfer funds effectively formed the life thread of army finance. The ability to finance the military in times of exploding costs and permanent emergencies without defaulting rested not only on the capacity to draw on financial resources at home, but also on the strength of commercial and financial networks abroad. In doing so, closeness to the centres of emerging international financial capitalism seems to have been of greater importance than a specific set of institutional innovations.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
P. Brandon, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands; email: p.brandon@vu.nl.
Footnotes
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I would like to thank Marjolein ’t Hart, Rafael Torres Sánchez, Stefano Battilossi and the two anonymous reviewers for their many comments and suggestions. All remaining errors are mine. First research for this article was executed with the help of a Bendikson Fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, in the summer of 2012.

Footnotes
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Financial History Review
  • ISSN: 0968-5650
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