Transcript of a lecture delivered at the Mises Institute's Seminar Series, April 28, 2005.
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.
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.
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 (16601688) 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.
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.
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.
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