Public Finance of the Dutch Republic in Comparative Perspective
Wantje Fritschy, VU University Amsterdam (emeritus)
This study offers the first complete overview of the remarkable public finances of the Dutch Republic of the United Provinces. Wantje Fritschy has analysed the development and structure of its public revenue and expenditure. She argues that a ‘tax revolution’ and the ‘fiscal resilience’ of the provinces together were more important for its surprising performance than Holland’s public debt alone, and the institutional and economic characteristics of its ‘urban system’ were more important than wealth due to foreign trade. Comparisons with the fiscal systems of three more centralized states - the Venetian Republic, Britain and the Ottoman Empire - underline the crucial importance of long-term ‘urbanization trajectories’ in understanding early-modern fiscal performance. It was not because it was federal that the Dutch Republic collapsed.