Roundheads, Whigs, and Decivilization: A Hoppean Analysis of Stuart England

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Transcript
of a lecture delivered at the Mises Institute's Seminar Series,
April 28, 2005.

INTRODUCTION:

I'm
very happy to be with you today, and I appreciate the opportunity
to speak to you. I first discovered the Mises Institute – like
many others, I'm sure – on the internet about four years ago.
I was a graduate student at the time, and I was fortunate enough
to attend a weeklong seminar and another conference here in 2002.
When I got the job offer at Faulkner University last year, I excitedly
told my wife that one of the best things about moving to Montgomery
was that we'd be less than an hour away from the Mises Institute.
She replied, "I knew you were going to say that."

When
Hans Hoppe's book Democracy:
The God That Failed
first appeared, I read some reviews
and familiarized myself with its thesis concerning democracy's inferiority
to monarchy without actually reading it; I think the price tag on
the hardcover edition scared me away, as I was still a student at
the time. (I've since acquired and read the paperback.) But I remember
musing even back then that if what Hoppe was saying were correct,
then much of early modern and modern European and American history
would have to be re-examined or even rewritten, including the history
of the field in which I specialized in graduate school: sixteenth-
and seventeenth-century England, the period of the Tudor and Stuart
dynasties. I continued to toy with this idea for a few years and
decided that, if no one beat me to it, I would try my hand at a
Hoppean analysis of early modern England once my Ph.D. was finished
and I was comfortably ensconced in a tenure-track university position
somewhere. My conversations with Joe Stromberg at a recent conference
inspired me to get serious about that project again, and so here
I am today.

What
I propose to do today is share some preliminary thoughts on how
the nature of civil government in early modern England illustrates
Hoppe's thesis concerning the relative merits – or, more appropriately,
demerits – of monarchy and democracy. I say "illustrates,"
not "proves," since of course Hoppe's theory is reached
deductively and is therefore not subject to empirical verification.
In the interests of time, I have chosen to focus on the seventeenth
century, the period of the Stuart Dynasty. This period is of particular
interest because it includes England's experiment in republican
government under Oliver Cromwell as well as the so-called "Glorious
Revolution" of 1688, which marked a big step in the direction
of democracy in England.

Most
of you are probably familiar with the Whig Interpretation of History,
which was dominant in the nineteenth and well into the twentieth
century, and which Murray Rothbard sharply criticized in his own
historical writings. The Whig historians' central assumption was
that, in the words of J. P. Kenyon, "throughout our history
we have progressed steadily, and, it seems, inevitably towards a
state of social and political near-perfection located in the present
day," or, in this case, on the eve of World War I. Stuart England
occupied a key place in the classical Whig interpretation as the
period when significant progress towards that "ideal"
parliamentary democratic system was made, when Parliament established
itself as the monarch's equal or even superior. Two of the most
famous works of the Whig school (namely Gardiner's
account of the civil wars
and Macauley's treatment of the Glorious
Revolution) deal with the Stuart period. The falling from favor
of the Whig Interpretation in the 1920s and 1930s was a serious
blow to English (and more specifically Stuart) historians, who now
had no generally-agreed-upon theoretical framework from which to
construct an assessment of the past. The orthodox Marxist interpretation,
which, like the Whig, was teleological and linear in its approach,
found some adherents but never became standard, and it has since
been discredited (even among mainstream historians!). Although in
recent years the race/class/gender deconstructionism endemic in
literature departments unfortunately has made some headway in the
heretofore more sensible history departments, no overarching theory
of history has yet arisen with the potential to replace the Whig
Interpretation and sweep the field of its competitors. To quote
Kenyon again, "Instead of striding along a brightly illuminated
high road, the historian now shuffles uneasily in a thick fog from
one lamp-post to another, the lamp-posts wide apart and eccentrically
sited, and frequently shifting their position."

What
is exciting about Professor Hoppe's theory is its potential to clear
up some of the confusion in this field. It provides a framework
within which we can more clearly evaluate important developments
and events like the Glorious Revolution. At the same time, its non-teleological
nature frees us from slavishly searching for pre-determined outcomes
such as the triumph of democracy or of the proletariat. Likewise,
because Hoppe's thesis does not purport to explain everything, it
leaves room for appreciation of other incentives that motivate historical
actors, some of which may run counter to and overpower the incentives
Hoppe sees as being inherent in the structures of monarchial and
democratic government. In the case of Stuart England, as we will
see, religious conviction plays a very powerful role in this regard.

PERIOD
OVERVIEW:

The
genealogy
of the Stuart dynasty
that I've passed out comes from the British
monarchy's official website, and I hope it will help everyone keep
up with the discussion. I'll give a brief overview of each of the
monarchs to establish a chronology of the period and for those of
you who aren't familiar with the Stuarts.

The
first Stuart king of England was James I, who inherited the throne
in 1603 from Elizabeth I, his first cousin twice removed. If you
ask the man on the street what he knows about James, he will probably
say something about the King James Version of the Bible, which was
published in 1611. He might also tell you that James was homosexual.
Given Professor Hoppe's experience, perhaps I shouldn't comment
on how this alleged homosexuality might have affected James' time
preference. (In fact, the evidence for James' homosexuality is inconclusive,
and there are solid grounds for believing that he was not so inclined.)
James' reign was largely a peaceful one by the standards of the
day, and he might be judged the most successful Stuart king by Hoppean
standards; despite his strident defense of the divine right of kings,
in practice he frequently negotiated with Parliament and otherwise
acted in a prudent manner.

Upon
his death in 1625, James was succeeded by his second son –
the first had died prematurely – Charles I. Charles ran into
difficulties with Parliament in his early years over – what
else? – money, and his frustration led him to dissolve Parliament
in 1629 and attempt to govern without it, relying only on his traditional
sources of revenue, for the next eleven years. This effort was reasonably
successful until Charles made a disastrous attempt in 1637 to impose
the English Book of Common Prayer on the Church of Scotland, the
members of which generally believed that the English prayer-book
skirted too closely to Roman Catholicism. The Scots revolted against
this suspected popery and actually fielded an army which invaded
and occupied the northern English counties. Charles did not have
sufficient revenue on his own to raise an army to repel the Scots,
and by 1640 he found himself compelled to summon a new Parliament
in order to secure the needed funds.

Unfortunately
for Charles, repelling the Scots was not the new Parliament's top
priority (many members, indeed, sympathized with their aims), and
it demanded concessions from Charles before voting him any money.
Charles angrily dissolved the body and called for new elections,
which returned an even more resolute set of gentry determined to
end what they viewed as royal abuses of prerogative. This second
Parliament of 1640 has gone down in history as the Long Parliament
because it did not officially dissolve until 1659. It ordered the
arrest and impeachment of Charles' most trusted advisers and demanded
that Charles permanently give up some of his traditional feudal
rights. The inability of the two sides to reconcile led to an outbreak
of civil war in 1642. The royalists ("Cavaliers") and
the parliamentarians ("Roundheads") clashed repeatedly,
with the Scots occasionally intervening on one side or the other,
until 1648, at which point the Parliament had triumphed.

In
January 1649, Parliament, now a Rump purged of its moderate elements
and under the influence of the charismatic general Oliver Cromwell,
took its most radical step yet by executing Charles and abolishing
the monarchy and House of Lords. This inaugurated an eleven-year
period known as the Interregnum, during which time England had a
republican government under the leadership of Cromwell. This regime
became unstable after Cromwell's death in 1658, and in 1660 a General
Monck and his troops seized control of London and issued an invitation
to Charles I's son, also named Charles, who was then living in France,
to return to England and become king. This invitation was eagerly
accepted, and Charles II was restored to the throne in triumph in
1660.

Charles'
reign was marked by several catastrophes, including war, outbreak
of plague, the Great Fire of London, and the formation of the first
political parties; however, none of them was severe enough to bring
about his downfall. He died in 1685, leaving behind thirteen children;
unfortunately, they were all illegitimate, and thus the succession
devolved on his younger brother, who became James II. James appeared
to be in a very strong position on his accession, despite his publicly
avowed Roman Catholicism, which had occasioned alarm in Parliament
during the latter years of Charles II. Both his daughters, already
adults by that time, had been raised Protestants, and were next
in the line of succession, and the general feeling was that James,
already old by seventeenth-century standards, would not be around
long enough to cause any lasting problems. However, within three
years he had alienated Parliament by, among other things, attempting
to form a permanent standing army and claiming the authority to
suspend any law that displeased him (such as the ban on Roman Catholic
officeholders) at any time. The final straw for committed Protestants
came in 1688 when James' second wife, Mary of Modena, gave birth
to a son, who would undoubtedly be raised as a Roman Catholic, thus
raising the prospect of an endless succession of papist kings.

The
result was the Glorious Revolution, in which leading bishops and
Whigs issued an invitation to James' son-in-law and daughter, William
of Orange and Mary, rulers of the Netherlands, to come to England
with an army and save the country from the tyranny which threatened
it. They agreed to do so and encountered little resistance, James
having lost his nerve and fled the country before testing his luck
on the battlefield. (This is another reason why the Revolution was
Glorious: in addition to the Whigs' having triumphed, there was
virtually no bloodshed.) William and Mary were declared king and
queen – William III and Mary II – by Parliament, but from
this point on it was quite clear that Parliament was to be the senior
partner in government, the body to whom the joint sovereigns owed
their position.

Mary
died in 1694 followed by William in 1702; they were childless, and
at that time Mary's younger sister Anne (also childless) became
queen and reigned until her death in 1714. James II's son, James
Francis Edward Stuart, was still living in exile at that time, but
Parliament refused to allow the crown to pass to him, opting instead
to offer it to George, elector of Hanover, who was the grandson
of Charles I's sister Elizabeth. George, who could not even speak
English, accepted the offer and became George I, the first English
monarch from the House of Hanover, which still occupies the throne
today under the name of Windsor.

MONARCHY
AND "DEMOCRACY":

So
much for the overview of the chronology of Stuart England. I would
now like to point out specific developments of the period which,
I believe, illustrate Hoppe's theory of monarchy and democracy.

Hoppe
characterizes monarchy as a situation in which the state and its
attendant monopoly of violence are privately owned by the monarch.
This was essentially the case in the England of 1603, even though
the precedent had been established during the course of the Middle
Ages that Parliament had to approve any new tax before it could
be lawfully collected. The English over time had developed the quite
sensible belief that under normal circumstances the king was to
"live of his own" – that is to say, provide for expenses
of government from his own pocket. Taxes, with the exception of
customs duties, were only to be levied in extraordinary conditions
such as war. Thus, the summoning of Parliament traditionally had
been received throughout the realm with trepidation and suspicion,
because it was perceived to have few other functions than that of
raising taxes. One of the reasons the reign of Elizabeth I was considered
a Golden Age is that Parliament was rarely summoned.

As
was customary in the era, Parliament voted to grant the traditional
customs duties to James for life, but he was expected to make do
with no other tax revenue in peacetime. James did have other sources
of income; in addition to his revenue from the Crown lands, along
with revenue from fines and forfeitures, he enjoyed several incidents
of feudal overlordship. Among these were the following:

Wardship:
the right to take custody of estates whose owners were considered
ineffectual (minors, widows, lunatics, etc.)

Marriage:
the right to arrange the marriages of the above owners

Respite
of Homage:
a sort of estate tax

Distraint
of Knighthood:
the requirement that anyone possessing property
valued at 40 or more assume knighthood and perform the
duties of a vassal

Purveyance:
the right to levy food and transport for the Court at below-market
prices

Together,
these sources of income produced a considerable sum each year, despite
the fact that Elizabeth I had sold off roughly a third of the Crown
lands, and they should have been sufficient for peacetime administration
had James been a frugal man, which he was not. Deficit spending
was a problem for him from the beginning, and from at least 1611
there was talk of striking a bargain with Parliament under which
James would give up some of his feudal prerogatives, which grated
on some seventeenth-century sensibilities, in exchange for a permanent
increase in his tax revenues. Nothing much actually happened on
this front during James' reign, and the traditional sources of royal
income were still such that Charles I could make a go of governing
without Parliament at all during the peaceful 1630s, although he
was compelled to revive some prerogatives which had fallen into
disuse in the Middle Ages and make very creative use of some others
in order to guarantee a sufficient revenue to keep the government
operational.

Contrast
this situation, in which the monarch funds the lion's share of the
state's activities through essentially private means, with the one
that existed during the last stages of the Stuart period. In the
latter case, William III was almost entirely dependent on Parliament
not only for wartime financing, but also for the normal expenses
of the government and even of his own household. (To his chagrin,
Parliament decided to reduce his allowance on at least one occasion
in the 1690s.) This change in the primary source of government revenue
dated from the 1640s and remained entrenched even after the Restoration
in 1660. This is why I think we can say that by the late seventeenth
century, England, despite being a monarchy, had made an important
shift in the direction of Hoppe's definition of a democracy –
that is, a government that is publicly owned, and which is administered
by officials who function as caretakers, not owners. Once Parliament
was in the driver's seat as far as the government's budget is concerned,
it inevitably became the ultimate arbiter of state policy. This
is also reflected in the increasing frequency of sessions of Parliament;
whereas it was not unusual in the early seventeenth century to go
for several years between sessions, by the end of the century laws
were on the books requiring regular convening of the body and reauthorization
of crucial spending. (In the 1690s, a law entitled the Demise of
the Crown Act was passed, which provided for the continued meeting
of Parliament in the event of the monarch's death. Here we have
the unstated assumption that government can exist and act in the
absence of the king, a concept that would have been unthinkable
100 years before.) And, of course, there are much lower barriers
to entry in Parliament than there are in the royal family. Certainly
we cannot stretch this point too far; the England of 1688 was by
no means a democracy in the modern sense, but the contrasting incentives
of monarchical and democratic government described by Hoppe are
present, it seems to me, in this shift toward Parliamentary dominance
in Stuart England.

If
my reasoning here is correct, we should expect to see Hoppe's monarchical
incentives in the ascendant in the period before 1642, and his democratic
incentives dominant thereafter (but especially so during the Interregnum
and after 1688). Some of the areas Hoppe focuses on are not really
applicable to the Stuart period; I'm thinking here mainly of his
discussion of the welfare state and the bias towards it in democracies.
Obviously, that monster was nowhere near raising its ugly head in
the seventeenth century. However, there is still plenty of relevance
to observe in other aspects of seventeenth-century state activity.
In the time I have remaining, I'd like to focus on taxation, debt,
the expansion of the state, and foreign policy.

TAXATION:

Hoppe
argues that because the monarch is the government's owner, his incentives
are those of an owner, and he will tend not to try to maximize his
current income at the expense of the capital value of his assets.
This leads him to favor a policy of relatively low taxation, because
he understands that excessive expropriations would reduce the incentive
of his subjects to produce, which could result in his having nothing
to expropriate in the future. He thus does well to adopt policies
that increase not only his own prosperity, but also that of his
subjects.

By
contrast, because officials in a democracy are caretakers and not
owners, they control only the current use of the state, not its
capital value. They thus have less incentive to give attention to
and maintain total government wealth. They rather tend towards maximizing
current income during their limited time in office, a policy that
makes capital consumption unavoidable. (A particularly egregious
example of this occurred in 1651, when Parliament auctioned off
Charles I's outstanding art collection in an effort to raise money,
an event that art historians are still bemoaning 350 years later.)
Moderation is not in the interest of a caretaker, because what he
does not consume now, he may never be able to consume. In tax policy,
this means that democratic government will tend towards relatively
high rates of taxation.

As
I mentioned earlier, the bulk of the government budget in 1603 was
paid out of James' personal revenues. With the exception of customs
duties, relatively little was collected in the way of taxes, even
if we count James' feudal sources of revenue as taxation. He did
occasionally request (and less frequently received) "Subsidies"
from Parliament; a Subsidy was a kind of property/income tax, the
assessment of which was based primarily on the realized rental value
of one's land. Even this tax was much less onerous than it could
have been, because the tax rolls had not been updated in fifty years;
there is at least one example of a nobleman being taxed on an amount
that was 90% less than the actual level of rent he was receiving.
In fact, it is easy to find historians who marvel at how "under-taxed"
early seventeenth-century Englishmen were. Obviously, we would say
that there is no such thing as an under-taxed subject, but we can
still take the point that in relative terms taxation in early Stuart
England was quite low.

Charles
I used as many creative strategies as possible to maximize his income
without parliamentary aid in the 1630s. For example, he revived
the Forest Laws, which levied fines on anyone who encroached on
the royal forests. The burdensome thing about these laws is that
the 1189 boundaries of the forests were the ones specified in these
laws, and a lot of whittling away at those borders had occurred
in the 450 years since then. Suddenly, landowners whose families
had occupied their estates for several generations were being told
that they were encroaching on the king's forests and were to be
fined accordingly. Another expedient of Charles' was the extension
of the Ship Money levy, a tax traditionally assessed in the coastal
counties to fund the navy (whose job was primarily to stop piracy
in this period), to the inland counties. These and other innovations
certainly increased royal revenues; even so, the overall level of
taxation was certainly not excessive compared to what became normal
after 1642.

By
contrast, once Parliament assumed the dominant role in government,
taxes jumped to record levels. A subsidy in James I's reign was
expected to bring in around 80,000, and even when Parliament
was feeling well disposed towards the king, the grant of more than
one of these in any given year was unthinkable, even in wartime.
On the other hand, during the Civil Wars of the 1640s, Parliament
merrily exacted the equivalent of one subsidy per month from
the hapless English taxpayers within its jurisdiction. This was
achieved by the imposition of brand new excise taxes as well as
a new land tax euphemistically referred to as an "assessment."
On top of this Parliament engaged in wholesale confiscation of property
belonging to royalists and the Church of England. It can be argued
that the decision to abolish episcopacy in 1646 was driven as much
by the desire to lay hands on the bishops' property as by philosophical
opposition to that form of church government.

At
the Restoration in 1660, the excise joined customs duties as a permanent
feature of the English tax structure; perhaps we might call this
an early example of Robert
Higgs' "ratchet effect."
The land tax, on the other
hand, was judged too radical for a normal peacetime measure, and
during the Restoration Period (1660–1688) it was levied only
during war. However, in 1692 the cash-strapped Parliament revived
the land tax once again, and it took its proud place alongside the
excise and customs, never to go away. Thus by the end of the Stuart
period, the English people labored under a far greater tax burden
than their great-grandparents had, and I think we can attribute
a significant amount of responsibility for this situation to the
incentive structure of the increasingly democratic form of government.

DEBT:

In
the case of debt, we see a similar pattern, again using 1642 as
a benchmark year. Hoppe's theory states that monarchs are relatively
restrained in their attempts to borrow money. At first blush, this
seems an absurd statement to the early modern historian familiar
with the propensity of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century kings
to run themselves into staggering debt. Hoppe acknowledges this
tendency, but maintains persuasively that democracies are even worse
in this area. The monarch and his heirs, as the owners of the government,
are personally liable for all debt the state incurs. Early modern
rulers could and did declare bankruptcy (Philip II of Spain, one
of the sixteenth century's most powerful rulers, did so on multiple
occasions), and they occasionally were compelled by their creditors
to liquidate part of their estates if they ever hoped to borrow
in the future. Would-be creditors realized that kings were normally
poor credit risks and set interest rates on royal loans accordingly.
These considerations provided strong incentives for rulers to minimize
their debts.

The
early Stuart monarchs were no strangers to borrowing. James I inherited
a debt of over 400,000 from Elizabeth I in 1603; thanks to
some astute financial management, this number had been reduced to
280,000 by 1610 before the deficits resumed. By 1620 Crown
debts stood at 900,000. Charles I, faced with Parliamentary
intransigence and unwilling creditors in his early years, resorted
to a notorious expedient that has gone down in history as the "Forced
Loan," a strong-armed tactic which raised over 230,000
from 1626 to 1628. Charles' debt by the mid-1630s exceeded 1.1
million.

However,
next to the post-1642 Parliament, James and Charles were pikers
when it came to borrowing money. From the mid-1640s all the way
through the 1650s, the pay of the army, navy, and militia was in
arrears, despite Parliament's massive expropriations during the
period. By 1658, the government had run up 1.5 million of
new debt and was operating with an annual deficit of nearly half
a million pounds. This situation stabilized after the Restoration,
but the post-1688 period provided ominous precedents for the future.
In 1693, during a war with Louis XIV of France, the government came
up with the idea of selling annuities on a 1,000,000 loan;
these annuities were to be paid by the collection of new excise
taxes over a period of ninety-nine years. The more astute realized,
of course, that Parliament was signaling its intention never to
pay back the principal. The following year (1694) saw an event all
libertarians should lament: the chartering of the Bank of England,
the world's first modern central bank. The Bank of England was created
to extend a loan of 1.5 million to the government. (Its privileged
status also allowed it to operate on a fractional-reserve basis
from Day One.) By 1697, a National Debt had been created which stood
at 13.5 million, a sum undreamed of by the early Stuarts.
There is no evidence that the government ever had any intention
of liquidating this debt.

According
to Hoppe, this sort of behavior should not surprise us, since democratic
officeholders and their heirs are not personally liable for the
debts they incur on behalf of the government; the debts are "public,"
to be repaid by future and equally non-liable governments. This
fact removes most of the incentives toward restraint in borrowing
that weigh upon monarchs. It is true that in the case of late Stuart
England, we do not have a nice and neat example of this, because
the king was still considered to be nominally responsible for the
government's operations and expenditures. Still, Parliament was
in ultimate control of the budgetary process, and there was an implied
Parliamentary guarantee where the debt was concerned. By way of
analogy, William III in the 1690s was in a situation similar to
that of a child who receives a weekly allowance from his parents.
It's understood that parents are ultimately liable for any debts
their adolescent children incur, and Parliament was in this position
vis-à-vis the king. So I think we can view Stuart
England's explosion of debt through this Hoppean lens.

GROWTH
OF GOVERNMENT:

As
you have probably surmised, higher taxation and greater debt go
hand in hand with a growth in the size of the state, and Hoppe's
theory leads us to expect this development in the case of Stuart
England. Hoppe states that a monarchical system of government creates
a sort of class consciousness among the subjects. Those who have
no hope of entering the royal family through marriage or of receiving
patronage from the king normally adopt a posture of opposition to
any attempted expansion of state authority, since they cannot personally
benefit from such a development. This puts the brakes on the state's
natural tendency to aggrandize itself and expand its control over
the populace. By contrast, in a democracy, where few barriers to
entry into the government are present, that class consciousness
erodes, as more and more people see a potential personal benefit
from the growth of government. To an extent, this latter incentive
structure is present in the Parliament-dominated government of late
Stuart England, and so I believe Hoppe's insights are applicable
in our case.

As
we have seen, taxation was relatively low in the reign of James
I, but still there were frequent attacks on the king's exercise
of his feudal rights such as wardship and purveyance. These were
frequent topics of discussion in the Parliaments of the era, a fact
that confuses some historians who are convinced the political debate
of the seventeenth century is all about grand abstractions such
as freedom of speech and natural law. When the abortive negotiations
were going on to establish a permanent Parliamentary income for
James in exchange for the surrender of certain feudal rights, the
annual stipend sought by the king was 200,000, a sum which,
when added to other royal revenues, would have resulted in a total
Crown income of between 300,000 and 400,000. James
sometimes even had great difficulty acquiring funds to do essential
things; for example, when his wife, Anne of Denmark, died, her embalmed
body lay in state for ten weeks before the treasury could come up
with the money to bury her.

The
seventeenth century is a period of price inflation, thanks in part
to the influx of bullion from the Americas, and, combined with the
natural tendency of government to expand, by Charles I's reign the
budget numbers were somewhat higher. In 1635, a year in which the
budget was balanced, the government spent 618,000. Again,
public resistance to Charles' aggressive revenue measures was fierce.
The Parliament, of course, had been dissolved for refusing to vote
Charles the funds he thought he needed. During the 1630s, opposition
came from other quarters. Probably the most famous example is the
Ship Money Case, in which a robust challenge to the legality of
Charles' collection of Ship Money in the inland counties was mounted.
Finally, the opposition to Charles' allegedly excessive methods
of raising revenue formed the foundation of what ultimately became
the rebellion against him in 1642.

Once
again, government growth increases substantially once Parliament
is in power. Next to the millions of pounds being thrown around
during the Interregnum, Charles I's budgets look positively dinky.
We have another instance of the ratchet effect in 1660: Charles
II was voted a permanent income of 1.2 million. By the time
James II came to the throne, that figure was up to 1.9 million.
(Much of the increase was due to the creation of England's first-ever
standing army under Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s and its subsequent
maintenance.) The so-called "Civil List" voted for William
III's ordinary expenses (not including upkeep of the military) was
700,000 per annum in the 1690s, a sum several times
what James had hoped for ninety years before. Also by the 1690s,
Parliament was spending roughly 5 million per year just on
its war with France. Again, these were sums beyond the wildest dreams
of the early Stuarts and representative of a huge increase in the
size of English government.

FOREIGN
POLICY:

Finally,
I'd like to look at foreign policy, and here we have an example
of incentives running counter to those described by Hoppe. Hoppe
argues that the class consciousness present in a monarchy leads
to a more restrained foreign policy. The reasoning is that although
monarchs are naturally expansionist, their subjects view foreign
policy as their rulers' private affair and are unwilling to pay
the taxes necessary for financing wars. Instead, the monarch finds
it expedient to acquire new territory through marriage alliances.
Democratic officeholders do not normally have this option because
they are only caretakers, and war is the most likely strategy for
permanent acquisition of new territory and its attendant expansion
of the tax base. The people in democracies are more likely to condone
war if they believe that this enlarged tax base will bring them
personal benefits.

However,
we find that in Stuart England, a powerful incentive not described
by Hoppe, namely religion, exercised an important sway over the
subjects' views on foreign policy. To a large degree, Protestantism
defined the early modern English identity, particularly after the
epic wars with Spain, of which the most famous incident was the
attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada, in the late
sixteenth century. Englishmen who considered themselves good Protestants
were not satisfied unless hostilities with some Roman Catholic country
were ongoing. Thus James I's signing of a peace treaty with Spain
in 1604 was hugely unpopular, as was his attempt to marry his son
to a Spanish princess in the 1620s. When the Thirty Years War broke
out in 1618 in the German states, public opinion demanded that James
send military assistance to his Protestant son-in-law, Frederick,
elector of the Palatinate, against the Catholic Austrian Habsburgs,
despite James' reluctance. When Charles I came to the throne, England
had been pressured into war with Spain again, and the peace, when
eventually negotiated, was roundly condemned.

So
we have a situation here where James and Charles, by and large,
preferred a peaceful foreign policy, but were pressured into war
by their subjects. In this case, the incentives Hoppe describes
as influencing a monarchy's subjects were overpowered by a contrary
impulse based on religious doctrine and sentiment. However, attention
to Hoppe's theory will prevent us from being surprised when we learn
that despite its insistence that England go to war with seventeenth-century
Europe's Great Powers, Parliament proved reticent to appropriate
the funds necessary to maintain a respectable war effort, particularly
in the case of the Spanish war of the 1620s. One of Charles' chief
grievances that led him to dissolve Parliament in 1629 was this
lack of Parliamentary assistance in fighting a war that Charles
himself had never been that interested in in the first place.

After
1642, wars became an even more regular feature of English foreign
policy, and their scale increased as well. I'm sure many of you
are familiar with the so-called Wars of Commerce against the Dutch
between 1652 and 1674, waged by both Cromwell's Interregnum regime
and Charles II. (Religion was not really a factor here, as both
the English and the Dutch were Protestants.) We also find Cromwell
in the mid-1650s deciding, based on his religious beliefs, that
England had to go to war with someone, and the only question was
who should be attacked: France or Spain? And then, of course, the
wars against Louis XIV in the late seventeenth century were the
largest yet, responsible for huge increases in government spending
and borrowing, as we have already seen. The behavior of the post-1642
English government certainly tracks with Hoppe's observations in
this area.

CONCLUSION:

During
the Stuart period, therefore, we are able to see the conflicting
incentives inherent in the monarchical and democratic systems as
described by Hoppe. We have established that, from the Hoppean perspective,
the early Stuart government was relatively monarchical and the later
Stuart government was relatively democratic. We have observed that
in several areas, the Stuart state acted during these respective
periods in a manner consistent with what a Hoppean analyst would
have predicted. I believe Hoppe's theory of monarchy and democracy
has much to contribute to an improved understanding of early modern
England, and I hope that in the future I will be able to present
to you further findings in this area. Thank you.

May
5, 2005

Jason Jewell [send him mail]
is the chairman of the Department of Humanities at Faulkner University
in Montgomery, Alabama.

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