Public Debt, the Peace of Utrecht, and the Rivalry between Company and State
Alfred Soons (ed.), The 1713 Peace of Utrecht and Its Enduring Effects (Netherlands: Brill, 2016).
19 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 17, 2016
In this chapter, I draw on the idiom of jurisdictional thinking to re-describe the Peace of Utrecht, and the events leading up to it, in terms of the rivalry in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in England, between the sovereign-territorial arrangements we now call the state, and commercial-political groupings of merchants associated in the juridical form of the joint-stock company. I suggest that in the context of this rivalry over public authority, the Peace of Utrecht marks a moment in which the practices of contest and relation between those rival actors, and their rival forms of associational life, can be seen to have been shaped and conducted through the new instrumentality of public debt. More precisely, I will suggest that the particular treaties of the Peace of Utrecht were, at least in one dimension, instruments by which borrower and creditor were brought together, or joined, and which shaped the way that relation - and contest - travelled, and particularly moved ‘Southward’ for both Company and State.
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