States of Credit: Size, Power, and the Development of European Polities

States of Credit: Size, Power, and the Development of European Polities

by David Stasavage

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States of Credit: Size, Power, and the Development of European Polities by David Stasavage

States of Credit provides the first comprehensive look at the joint development of representative assemblies and public borrowing in Europe during the medieval and early modern eras. In this pioneering book, David Stasavage argues that unique advances in political representation allowed certain European states to gain early and advantageous access to credit, but the emergence of an active form of political representation itself depended on two underlying factors: compact geography and a strong mercantile presence.

Stasavage shows that active representative assemblies were more likely to be sustained in geographically small polities. These assemblies, dominated by mercantile groups that lent to governments, were in turn more likely to preserve access to credit. Given these conditions, smaller European city-states, such as Genoa and Cologne, had an advantage over larger territorial states, including France and Castile, because mercantile elites structured political institutions in order to effectively monitor public credit. While creditor oversight of public funds became an asset for city-states in need of finance, Stasavage suggests that the long-run implications were more ambiguous. City-states with the best access to credit often had the most closed and oligarchic systems of representation, hindering their ability to accept new economic innovations. This eventually transformed certain city-states from economic dynamos into rentier republics.

Exploring the links between representation and debt in medieval and early modern Europe, States of Credit contributes to broad debates about state formation and Europe's economic rise.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400838875
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Series: Princeton Economic History of the Western World
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

David Stasavage is professor of politics at New York University. He is the author of Public Debt and the Birth of the Democratic State.

Table of Contents

Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction 1
Representation, Scale, and Control 6
The Evolution and Importance of Public Credit 9
Representative Assemblies in City-States and Territorial States 11
Geographic Scale and Merchant Power 14
Broad Sample Evidence 16
Origins of City-States 18
Case Study Evidence 20
Plan of the Book 24
CHAPTER TWO: The Evolution and Importance of Public Credit 25
Why Credit Was Important 25
When Did States First Borrow Long-Term? 29
The Cost of Borrowing 38
Economic Explanations for the City-State Advantage 43
Summary 46
CHAPTER THREE: Representative Assemblies in Europe, 1250-1750 47
Origins of Representative Assemblies 48
Prerogatives of Representative Assemblies 54
Who Was Represented? 61
The Intensity of Representation 65
Summary 68
CHAPTER FOUR: Assessing the City-State Advantage 70
Representation and Credit as an Equilibrium 72
Representative Institutions and the Creation of a Public Debt 77
Representative Institutions and the Cost of Borrowing 84
Variation within City-States 90
Summary 93
CHAPTER FIVE: Origins of City-States 94
The Rokkan/Tilly Hypothesis 95
The Carolingian Partition Hypothesis 95
Empirical Evidence 100
Reassessing the City-State Advantage 106
Summary 107
CHAPTER SIX: Three City-State Experiences 110
Merchant Oligarchy in Cologne 111
Genoa and the Casa di San Giorgio 117
Siena under the Rule of the Nine 125
Summary 131
CHAPTER SEVEN: Three Territorial State Experiences 132
France and the Rentes sur l’Hôtel de Ville 132
Revisiting Absolutism in Castile 142
Accounting for Holland’s Financial Revolution 150
Summary 154
CHAPTER EIGHT: Implications for State Formation and Development 156
The Debate on War and State Formation 156
Information, Commitment, and Democracy 158
Understanding Early Modern Growth 161
Bibliography 167
Index 187

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