CFP: Fiscal Crisis, Revolution, Fiscal Reform, War: Fiscal State in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era, 1770-1820, Rotterdam, June 2020

Call for Papers for an international conference to be held in Rotterdam, 25-27 June 2020.

Deadline CfP: 31 October 2019.

There is a broad consensus that fiscal affairs had a significant impact on the political turmoil that swept Europe at the dawn of the modern era. After all, it was the flawed attempts at introducing much-needed fiscal reform in ancien régimeFrance that sparked off the French Revolution. It is also well known that it was the ability to achieve resource superiority, in part through raising fiscal revenue, that determined which states could weather the political storms and conflict unleashed by revolution. Britain’s success in achieving resource superiority in the Napoleonic Wars is seen as key to the defeat of Revolutionary-Napoleonic France. The inability of the Dutch Republic to raise the fiscal revenue required to maintain its position in the international order is acknowledged to have made it an easy prey for French Revolutionary armies in 1794.

However, whilst fiscal history has attracted much scholarly attention, the broader field of European fiscal history remains fragmented along national lines. This conference aims to draw together recent research to reflect on whether common trends and developments can be identified in European fiscal history. A secondary aim of the conference is to explore the impact of the key international actor of the age, Napoleon Bonaparte, on European fiscal history, both on those states that were integrated into the Napoleonic Empire and the Napoleonic fiscal-military state and on those that were forced to respond to the emergence of a unipolar international order dominated by the Napoleonic Empire.

Papers are invited on a broad range of topics, to include but not limited to:

  • The evolution of the taxation, 1770-1820;
  • The introduction, reform or repeal of a specific tax;
  • Fiscal reform from municipal, regional, national, or imperial perspective;
  • Party political perspectives on fiscal reform;
  • War and taxation;
  • Political crises resulting from fiscal deficits;
  • The consequences of fiscal deficit for defined policy areas, such as defence or the economy;
  • The ideas and agency of key historical actors;
  • Resistance to taxation;

Though, to facilitate transnational comparison, the conference would ask papers to examine the impact of revolution on war on the fiscal state in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

The conference aims to include a broad variety of states, such as:

  • The Great Powers: France, Britain, the Habsburg Monarchy, Russia, Prussia;
  • The Lesser Powers, such the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal;
  • The Italian states;
  • The states of the Third Germany;
  • Provinces or regions of composite states, such as Hungary, the Illyrian Provinces, post-partition Poland;
  • Free cities and city states.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Prof. Dr Michael Broers (Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford), Prof. Dr Marjolein ‘t Hart (Huygens Institute for Dutch History/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Prof. Dr Peter Wilson (All Souls College, University of Oxford).

The proceedings of the conference will be published by Palgrave Macmillan.

The aim is to offer matching funding for travel and accommodation for the duration of the conference. However, in the event of an unexpected financial crisis, a registration fee of up to €50,- may be applied.

Abstracts of circa 250 words are invited for papers of 20 minutes to be delivered at the conference in Rotterdam, 25-28 June 2020. Panel proposals of 3-4 papers are welcomed. Abstracts (and questions) to be sent to Dr Mark Edward Hay by 31 October 2019, through a dedicated email account:


Dr Mark Edward Hay 
Lecturer in History                                            
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Department of History     

Economic History Society Power Research Fellow         
University of London,  Institute of Historical Research





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