War, Trade, and the Roots of Representative Governance

85 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020 Last revised: 2 Dec 2020

See all articles by Mark Dincecco

Mark Dincecco

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Gary W. Cox

Stanford University

Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 1, 2020

Abstract

This paper evaluates the historical roots of representative forms of governance. We argue that the two most important representative institutions invented in medieval Europe—communes and parliaments—emerged in a sequenced bargain over war and trade. Communes emerged first, when merchants offered attractive enough sums in exchange for rights of self-government. In the process, communes became important new actors in tax collection (given the absence of tax-collecting bureaucracies). Soon after, monarchs sought to reduce their costs of negotiating the “extraordinary” taxes that financed their wars. Rather than negotiate individually with each of their newly important towns, they summoned urban representatives to their pre-existing noble councils, creating parliaments. Exploiting two new panel datasets, our empirical analyses show how war and trade combined to motivate the formation first of communes and then of parliaments.

Keywords: Self-Governing Cities, Origins of Parliaments, State Formation, Representative Institutions

Suggested Citation

Dincecco, Mark and Cox, Gary W. and Onorato, Massimiliano Gaetano, War, Trade, and the Roots of Representative Governance (December 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3616438 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3616438

Mark Dincecco (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/umich.edu/dincecco

Gary W. Cox

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-723-4278 (Phone)

Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Bologna
Italy

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