ABSTRACT

Recent research has emphasized the continuities between the scal and nancial history of towns and states and now it is widely acknowledged that the systems of public credit developed by the monarchies and republics of the early modern period were modelled on the example set by European cities during the last centuries of the Middle Ages.2 At least since the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries a group of Aragonese, Italian and Low Countries towns began to issue annuities funded through taxation. is led to the development of notions of collective responsibility and set the basis for the implementation of the rst systems of public debt in sixteenth-century Holland and other polities of the time, such as Castile and many Italian states.3 Historians have devoted a large part of their e ort to the study of urban debts, and, more recently, they have also become interested in the analysis of urban spending. It is commonly admitted that the supply of public services is one of the main tasks of the state, but things were very di erent before the contemporary period. e greatest part of the revenues obtained by the European states through nance and taxation was devoted to pay their expensive foreign policy, so the provision of public services was carried out by other institutions, such as the Church, guilds or towns. Recently, a number of works has begun to address this issue.4