Histories of England, 1600–1780

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, historians of England pioneered a series of new approaches to the history of economic policy. Commerce, finance and statecraft charts the development of these forms of writing and explores the role they played in the period's economic, political and historiographical thought. Through doing so, the book makes a significant intervention in the study of historiography, and provides an original account of early-modern and Enlightenment history. A broad selection of historical writing is discussed, ranging from the work of Francis Bacon and William Camden in the Jacobean era, through a series of accounts shaped by the English Civil War and the party-political conflicts that followed it, to the eighteenth-century's major account of British history: David Hume's History of England. Particular attention is paid to the historiographical context in which historians worked and the various ways they copied, adapted and contested one another's narratives. Such an approach enables the study to demonstrate that historical writing was the site of a wide-ranging, politically charged debate concerning the relationship that existed – and should have existed – between government and commerce at various moments in England’s past.

Edmund Howes’s Annales

C H R O N O L O G Y A N D C O M M E R C E 63 3 Chronology and commerce: Edmund Howes’s Annales Bacon’s History and Camden’s Annales exerted a prolonged influence over the reputations of Henry VII and Elizabeth I. Indeed, as will be explored in Part II of this book, the eighteenth-century debate concerning the financial and commercial management of these monarchs was structured around a series of attempts to adapt and update Bacon’s and Camden’s narratives. The situation with regard to James I was a good deal more complicated. No account of a similar stature

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200 COMMERCE, FINANCE AND STATECRAFT Conclusion The Monthly Review for September 1790 contained a lengthy discussion of the final volume of John Sinclair’s The History of the Public Revenue of the British Empire (1785–90). While appreciative of Sinclair’s work, the anonymous reviewer opened his discussion with some general, and rather less positive, comments on the treatment of financial issues by previous English historians: History, till of late, was chiefly employed in the recital of warlike transactions. […] The people were not known; the circumstances

in Commerce, finance and statecraft
William Guthrie’s General History

and narrate the recent shifts which had transformed Europe’s nation states.5 Such ideas served to alter the emphasis of English narrative history in two important ways. On the one hand, they expanded the genre’s thematic range. And although 156 COMMERCE, FINANCE AND STATECRAFT politics remained the primary subject, England’s political history was shown to have shaped and been shaped by a range of non-political developments. On the other hand, history’s narrative focus tightened. The desire of post-Civil War party-political histories to show the benefits of

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Thomas Carte’s General History

134 COMMERCE, FINANCE AND STATECRAFT 7 Jacobite history: Thomas Carte’s General History A more far-reaching critique both of Rapin’s History and Whiggish ideas of credit was developed by the Oxford historian Thomas Carte in the 1740s and 1750s.1 Carte was a diligent and able scholar, and the author of a series of well-documented historical works including a three-volume History and Life of James Duke of Ormonde (1735–36) and the four-volume General History of England (1747–55).2 He was also a Non-Juror and an active Jacobite conspirator. In the 1720s he

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Francis Bacon’s History of the Reign of King Henry VII

conditions in which Bacon found himself had important consequences for the kind of history he was able to write. Anxious to 18 COMMERCE, FINANCE AND STATECRAFT work quickly, and unable to access the main archival material held in London, Bacon based his narrative on earlier printed accounts, such as Polydore Vergil’s Anglica Historia (1534), Edward Hall’s The Union of the two Noble and Illustrate Famelies of Lancastre [and] Yorke (1548) and John Speed’s History of Great Britaine (1611).4 However, while Bacon was reliant on these narratives, his engagement with them was

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Thomas Salmon’s Modern History

-economic statecraft analysis; Salmon’s and Carte’s point was not so much that finance and commerce were being badly managed by monarchs, but that they were not being managed at all. Equally, however, the effect of such commentary was to vindicate established ideas; the modern era was conceived of as retrograde, and the monarchical administration of, and responsibility for, economic activity were presented as the desirable norm. My discussion in this chapter opens with an outline of the period’s principal financial innovations, before looking at how ‘Court Whig’ and ‘Patriot

in Commerce, finance and statecraft

observed, his own position in Parliament meant that his knowledge of Parliamentarian ‘Councels’ was better than that of Royalist ones. Moreover, May acknowledged that the nature of the subject he was 84 COMMERCE, FINANCE AND STATECRAFT to discuss made it difficult to avoid partiality and impossible ‘to escape the suspition or censure of it’.6 A similar point was made by Fuller, who gave the first chapter of his Appeal of Iniured Innocence (1659) the title: ‘That it is impossible for the Pen of any Historians writing in (as our’s) a divided Age, to please all Parties

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Paul de Rapin de Thoyras’s Histoire

102 COMMERCE, FINANCE AND STATECRAFT 5 Whig history: Paul de Rapin de Thoyras’s Histoire The latter years of the seventeenth century saw a series of calls for a complete account of England’s history from the Roman invasion to the present, which would be able to rival both in quality and scale the work of Livy.1 Initial attempts at such an endeavour were made by, among others, John Milton, William Temple and Jonathan Swift, while more substantial accounts emerged from Robert Brady and James Tyrrell, both of whom reached Richard II.2 A success, of sorts, was

in Commerce, finance and statecraft
David Hume’s History of England

-volume History of England under the House of Tudor.6 The project was completed with two further volumes, published in 1761 and 1762, covering the period from the Roman invasion to the Battle 170 COMMERCE, FINANCE AND STATECRAFT of Bosworth Field.7 The entire narrative was then republished as a single work later in 1762 under the title The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688.8 New editions, each containing significant revisions, followed in 1770, 1773 and 1778.9 Alongside the chronological coincidence between Hume’s writings on

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