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The emergence of provincial debt in the county of Holland (thirteenth–sixteenth centuries)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2010

JACO ZUIJDERDUIJN*
Affiliation:
Utrecht University, C.J.Zuijderduijn@uu.nl
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Abstract

Historians often use the concept of financial revolutions to explain the rise of the Dutch Republic, claiming that innovations in government funding allowed for marked progress in the field of public finance. The article focuses on the medieval precursors of the financial revolution, which the States of Holland brought about when they introduced province-wide public debt in the sixteenth century. The relevant techniques were already known, but predominantly used for political rather than financial purposes. Therefore techniques such as collective responsibility for debt were scarcely implemented. The article hypothesizes that sovereigns made use of the corporate personality of public bodies to increase ties with the main towns of Holland, and thus they used collective responsibility for debt to create stability. This only became a major financial instrument at the turn of the sixteenth century, when a financial crisis forced both sovereign and main towns to reorganize the medieval system of debt servicing. This centralization was crucial for the large public debt the county of Holland created under the Dutch Republic and may even be regarded as a step in the direction of national debt.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © European Historical Economics Society 2010

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