The Shadow of the Sovereign Public and private credit in early modern Europe (II)

Workshop • 12-13 September • ISEG / GHES – CSG

The Shadow of the Sovereign II Workshop, hosted by the GHESCSG, brings together specialists on different national public and private credit markets to address the connections between the two markets. The research presented is expected to contribute to a fresh look on three key problems of financial history.

Most of the historical literature in early modern financial systems addresses private and public credit separately. There is still much to learn about the profound interaction between these markets, considering that they likely targeted the same investors, drew from the same pool of resources and were affected by the same public finance stresses and crises.

The research project Sovereign debt and private credit in Portugal – 1500-1797 [Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, PTDC/HAR-HIS/28809/2017] contributes to this discussion by taking Portugal as a showcase. In the present stage of research, three lines of research are carried out.

The first question addresses the modifications on debt instruments throughout different institutional contexts in early modern Europe. Long-term credit instruments had originally been developed in, and, for, the private sector. The transferability of public debt instruments provides a second research problem. While the primary market could be hurt by financial repression, the secondary market was less constrained and, thus, provides a clearer perspective on the credibility and liquidity of the credit instruments. The final issue is the sociological analysis of lenders and their different strategies according to the market in which they participate. The key question is whether governments and private borrowers did depend on the same social groups for funding.

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➧ More details at website.

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