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Private interest and the public sphere: finance and politics in France, Britain and the Netherlands during the Age of Revolution, 1789-1812

Dates:
  • Tue 15 Nov 2016 17.00 - 19.00
  Add to Calendar 2016-11-15 17:00 2016-11-15 19:00 Europe/Paris Private interest and the public sphere: finance and politics in France, Britain and the Netherlands during the Age of Revolution, 1789-1812

This work aims to explore the interactions between finance and politics in the ‘Age of Revolution’. The analysis of the financial world concerns bankers and merchants active in the cities of Amsterdam, London and Paris. In particular, the focus is on three aspects: the social status, the economic power and the political influence of bankers during a period of high uncertainty. Through a study of press debates emerges the different situation of bankers in England and France: whereas in England bankers intervened actively in public debate and even offered their expertise at the service of the government, in France, suspicion and distrust marked the general attitude towards the world of banking and trading. During the period of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Empire, bankers faced growing uncertainty and higher risks in running their business. Notwithstanding these unfavourable conditions, bankers like Francis Baring and Henry Hope found a safe refuge in investing in the American securities market. In England, the 1797 credit crisis led some important banks like Charles Hoare & Co. and Coutts & Co. to restrain lending to their most important and eminent clients. In 1802, the short interlude between wars offered opportunities to launch risky business, such as diamond acquisitions, as Baring tried to acquire in Paris. The outbreak of new hostilities did not prevent Dutch bankers from maintaining their capital invested in French loans. The growing financial needs of states did not always bring bankers to have an upper hand with governments. In England, Thomas Coutts struggled to see his closest friends and relatives appointed to public offices. In France, the precarious autonomy of the Banque de France did not overcome the 1805 crisis that led Napoleon to intervene and change the charter of the bank, making it almost a branch of the administration. The monitoring activities of the government were not only a sign of the persisting distrust towards market actors: from the police reports on the Paris Stock Exchange emerged a better understanding of market trends and of its independency with respect to political events. The ever-shifting relations between finance and politics during the Age of Revolution led bankers to take risks in far-away markets, or they attempted to run business as before the outbreak of the Revolutionary Wars. Under the pressure of war, governments imposed new rules and constraints to bankers, but this tendency also caused an improvement in the understanding of the market and its inherent laws.

Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

This work aims to explore the interactions between finance and politics in the ‘Age of Revolution’. The analysis of the financial world concerns bankers and merchants active in the cities of Amsterdam, London and Paris. In particular, the focus is on three aspects: the social status, the economic power and the political influence of bankers during a period of high uncertainty. Through a study of press debates emerges the different situation of bankers in England and France: whereas in England bankers intervened actively in public debate and even offered their expertise at the service of the government, in France, suspicion and distrust marked the general attitude towards the world of banking and trading. During the period of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Empire, bankers faced growing uncertainty and higher risks in running their business. Notwithstanding these unfavourable conditions, bankers like Francis Baring and Henry Hope found a safe refuge in investing in the American securities market. In England, the 1797 credit crisis led some important banks like Charles Hoare & Co. and Coutts & Co. to restrain lending to their most important and eminent clients. In 1802, the short interlude between wars offered opportunities to launch risky business, such as diamond acquisitions, as Baring tried to acquire in Paris. The outbreak of new hostilities did not prevent Dutch bankers from maintaining their capital invested in French loans. The growing financial needs of states did not always bring bankers to have an upper hand with governments. In England, Thomas Coutts struggled to see his closest friends and relatives appointed to public offices. In France, the precarious autonomy of the Banque de France did not overcome the 1805 crisis that led Napoleon to intervene and change the charter of the bank, making it almost a branch of the administration. The monitoring activities of the government were not only a sign of the persisting distrust towards market actors: from the police reports on the Paris Stock Exchange emerged a better understanding of market trends and of its independency with respect to political events. The ever-shifting relations between finance and politics during the Age of Revolution led bankers to take risks in far-away markets, or they attempted to run business as before the outbreak of the Revolutionary Wars. Under the pressure of war, governments imposed new rules and constraints to bankers, but this tendency also caused an improvement in the understanding of the market and its inherent laws.


Location:
Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Francesca Parenti - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Prof. Youssef Cassis (EUI)

Defendant:
Niccolò Valmori (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Examiner:
Regina Grafe
Prof. Lynn Hunt (University of California Los Angeles (UCLA))

Co-Supervisor:
Prof. Allan Potofsky (Université de Paris VII)

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