chapter  3
12 Pages

Politics, warfare and finance

The Financial Revolution in England was a lengthy process of financial reform that started in the late seventeenth century. For contemporaries, these reforms were not as important as the wars and changes of regime that had more obvious effects on their daily lives. With the passing of time, it is the financial changes that seem remarkable. Contemporary concerns about religious principles or royal successions seem far removed from the modern world. However important the stock markets eventually became, they were a relatively new phenomenon in early modern England. They were a harbinger of the industrial age appearing in a pre-industrial world. This chapter will discuss the period from later Stuarts to George I and the links between warmongering and finance. Mercantilist theories promoted a beggar-my-neighbour approach to international trade that exacerbated other conflicts. Warfare and commerce were two sides of the same coin. Economic history is not usually concerned with battles and great men. However, the victors of wars demanded commercial opportunities and territories as part of their peace settlements. The threat of war and invasion affected people’s willingness to invest. Stock markets react as a barometer that predicts the forthcoming weather. The wider world and its great storms are discussed in this chapter.