The Excesses of the State

The Excesses of the State

Histoire & Mesure; Centre for Economic History (University of Reading)
University of Reading
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
15.09.2013 -
Ute Wölfel, University of Reading

Administrative control or fiscal transparency of state finances,
17th century to 19th century Europe

The peer-reviewed journal Histoire & Mesure, (Paris, CRH-EHESS), in collaboration with the Centre for Economic History (University of Reading), is issuing a call for contributors on the theme of Administrative control or fiscal transparency of state finances, 17th century to 19th century Europe. Contributions/papers will be discussed in a conference which will take place in Spring 2014, and will subsequently be published in a special themed edition of the journal.

Subject of the conference: The transition from absolutism to liberalism in Europe is characterized, inter alia, by the development of political institutions, and specifically of political assemblies, capable of representing the national interest, obviously, but also of controlling the power of the executive, particularly by means of public discussion of the allocation of resources made available to the State and exercising control over the end destination of such resources.

There have been a number of works which, since those of de Tocqueville, have sought to identify the origins, as well as the immediate causes, of revolutions in Europe between the C17th and the C19th centuries, works which have enabled scholars to envisage the political revolution as a transition, or even as the outcome of, gradual underlying changes. Historians have also studied the practical conditions in which power was exercised and laws formulated in the representative assemblies.

In contrast, the archaeology of financial transparency, understood as meaning the transition from an absolutist financial regime, in which the use of resources came wholly within the divine omnipotence of the sovereign’s power (le secret des finances/financial secrecy), to that of a modern system, is still in a very fragmentary state. In many respects, the bringing into the public domain of financial matters seems to flow automatically from the recognition of the fundamental rights of the nation rather than forming one of the fundamental planks of it. We will address the question of the modern notion of financial transparency and consider whether its political dimension is merely a specific manifestation of the wider and more longstanding problem of financial control.

This conference aims to draw upon the contributions of numerous specialists in the affairs of European states in the period stretching from the C17th to the C19th century in order to stimulate reflection and debate on the conditions in which the concepts of financial control and financial transparency emerged and were put into practice, and the relationship between these concepts. The focus will be not so much on studying these concepts in their theoretical dimensions, but rather on considering them by means of the tools, transfer expertise, and innovations, as well as via the concrete practices, be they internal or external, used in the control of state finances.

Conference details :
Conference Organisers: Histoire & Mesure (CRH-EHESS), Centre for Economic History (University of Reading)
Place of conference: University of Reading, UK
Date of conference: Friday 4th April 2014
Working language: English
Proposals: Proposals for papers - in French or in English - must be submitted no later than 15th September 2013. Proposals should not exceed a page in length. They should be accompanied by a brief CV (including address and email details as well as institutional affiliation) and by a brief list of the contributor’s main publications. Authors will be contacted and replies sent by the 15th October 2013 at the latest.
Publication: After the conference, selected contributors will be invited to submit an article of no more than 8,000 words, which will be assessed by the editorial board, with a view to publication in the special themed issue of Histoire & Mesure.
All articles and correspondence are to be addressed to:
Joel Felix

For additional information about the journal see Histoire & Mesure:



Prof. Felix

Department of History, University of Reading, UK, RG6 6AA
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