Conventional accounts of the origins of the British fiscal state have an aversion to exploring in detail the advent of markets for debt securities. Most historians agree that in the British Isles the transition from a late medieval demesne-state to a tax state occurred in the seventeenth century, culminating in the Financial Revolution of the 1690s (Schumpeter, 1918; Braddick, 1994, pp. 1–21).1 Yet no major work of scholarship has looked closely at the link between the two. For most scholars what began during the Civil Wars and Interregnum reached fruition only after the Revolution of 1688/1689. Some authors may acknowledge that post- 1688 finance was built on pre-1688 practices, but few have attempted to reconstruct these practices in any detail, much less to link them to the Financial Revolution and the new species of public borrowing which financed the eighteenth-century state. Those who have done so at all have tended to locate structural change within the Restoration period (Brewer, 1988, p. 95). By overcoming the significant archival challenges of reconstructing Interregnum experiments in public finance, this book illuminates the origins of the durable institutions, structures and practices that formed the foundations of the fiscal state in the British Isles. More importantly, however, especially in the second decade of the twenty-first century, this study firmly locates the origins of the public debt in Interregnum experiments with excise taxation.
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