Thursday, April 26, 2012

What is needed for war...

... is money, money, and more money.

I like a campaign to reflect as much as possible the flavor of he period.  For some periods, and some places, that makes finance a key component of the game.  How can one game the rise of the Italian city-states, for example, without considering bankers and finance a key element?

So, what do we need to cover to capture finance in the 1740s and 50s?  It's a complex period - Bank of England, stock market bubbles, stock exchanges.

So I turned to an old standby, The Fontana Economic History of Europe, edited by Carlo Cipolla and published in the early 1970s.  While I am sure that there has been a lot of development in economic history  since, it is still solid scholarship that hits the high points.  Volume two, The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century (Collins/Fontana, Glasgow, 1973) includes "The Emergence of Modern Finance in Europe 1500-1730"  (Geoffry Parker; pp.527-589) .  While it discusses the more advanced economies, the last paragraph gives us our default position for our small backwater states:

In many areas, even in 1730 ... public finance was still confined within the straightjacket of anticipations and tax-farming.
 Both methods are basically the sale of futures on government revenue for cash up front.  Anticipation is the sale of a particular revenue (say, a salt tax) until principal and interested are paid.  Anticipated revenue is collected by government officials but remitted to the financiers.  Tax farming is complete outsourcing of taxation; the farmer pays for the right to collect taxes according to rules set by the government.  (If you ever wondered why tax collectors were so hated by the people of the New Testament, consider that they were probably subordinate tax farmers who had paid for the privilege of putting the squeeze on their neighbors).

On the income side, we have to remember that "contributions" were also still levied on captured territories -- Frederick squeezed Saxony for every pfennig -- and that if we want to consider possible interference by the great powers British subsidies might well be sent to counterbalance French soldiers. 

That's a simple enough framework for pretty simple basic annual income rules, but does not bring that much flavor.  Volume four of the series is The Industrial Revolution  and it includes "The State and the Industrial Revolution" (Barry Supple; pp. 301-357).  Supple remind us of the state projects of various "Enlightened Monarchs" such as Frederick and Maria Theresa in establishing factories and various other enterprise designed to make their principalities wealthier and less dependent on imports.

It is important to give sovereigns reasons to spend their money besides war.  Royal palaces, grand entertainments, and a collection of artists, musicians and philosophers all contribute to reputation and influence wavering allies; as does a careful caress of gold in the palms of the appropriate councilors.

We shall consider how this would fit into a game in another post.  Early days, as well, and more research needed.

No comments:

Post a Comment