University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cambridge Finance Workshop Series > The Financing and Re-financing of the War of the Spanish Succession, and then Re-Financing the South Sea Company

The Financing and Re-financing of the War of the Spanish Succession, and then Re-Financing the South Sea Company

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The expense of the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713) left each of the great powers of Europe (Austria, Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Spain), with unprecedented burdens of government debt. The overlapping Great Northern War (1700-1721) between Sweden and Russia also encumbered those two European powers with pressing financial problems. The competitive experiments in dealing with the amassed debt that followed over the next decade left Britain alone among the contesting military powers of Europe holding the key to success in war finance. Only Britain managed to convince a large and diverse number of individuals to hold onto their claims against the government due to British institutions that allowed individuals to trade their claims with each other rather than redeeming them directly from the government. We support our argument by analysis of the thousands of individuals who had acquired various forms of the British government’s debt over the course of the War of the Spanish Succession after the government consolidated most of that debt into the capital stock of the Bank of England, the East India Company, and the South Sea Company in 1723.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Finance Workshop Series series.

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