Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: April 2021



Frank Trentmann has commented that students could be forgiven for thinking there are four Martin Dauntons:

There is the Daunton of urban history and housing, then Daunton the author of books on state and taxation, and a third, younger Daunton, who writes about Britain and globalisation. Finally, there is the academic governor Daunton, Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, President of the Royal Historical Society, and chair of numerous boards and committees.

There is of course just one Martin Daunton and this volume brings together essays from friends, colleagues, and former students to celebrate his distinguished career. Throughout that career, Martin has focused on the relationship between structure and agency, how institutional structures create capacities and path dependencies, and how institutions are themselves shaped by agency and contingency – what Braudel referred to as ‘turning the hour glass twice’. His methodology has variously been described as ‘archival narrative’, a wellinformed, common-sense approach to policy issues and institutions, and as ‘a history of linkages’. This is reflected in the contributions to this volume which draw heavily on archival sources to situate their economic, social, political, and cultural enquiry within the policy debates and institutions of periods from the Restoration to the Global Financial Crisis, both in the UK and elsewhere.

In his valedictory lecture, Martin cautioned against constructing narrative arcs that attribute retrospective coherence to a career. In the same lecture, however, he pointed out that his work has often been inspired by the places where he has lived and worked. This is a thread that runs through Martin's career. A second is the link between his publications and the courses he has taught at Durham, University College London, and Cambridge. A third is perhaps best captured in the phrase ‘legitimacy and consent’. How did a fiscalmilitary state that appeared to have reached the limits of its taxable capacity in the eighteenth century earn the legitimacy required to extract ever-higher revenues? And why did the British people consent? This introduction follows these threads, adding biographical and historiographical detail to Trentmann's taxonomy to show how Martin's career as an economic historian sits within the style and tradition of Cambridge economic history.