par Janssens, Paul
Référence The Rise of Fiscal States: A Global History 1500-1914, Cambridge University Press, page (67-92)
Publication Publié, 2012-01
Partie d'ouvrage collectif
Résumé : Political autonomy under Spanish and Austrian imperial rule (seventeenth–eighteenth centuries) Fiscal autonomy In 1781, shortly after acceding to the throne, Joseph II visited the Austrian Netherlands and expressed his disappointment with its political regime, which in his opinion was not monarchical, but aristocratic in character. This was a telling characterization of the balance of power between the monarch and ruling elites that had taken shape upon the restoration of Spanish authority at the end of the sixteenth century, but had hardly changed when Maria Theresa died in 1780. In the historiography, the meetings of estates are represented as counterbalancing the powers of the ruler in traditional monarchies. In many parts of Europe, monarchs were financially dependent on the estates, which approved taxes. Elsewhere – e.g. in some French provinces – the monarchy had succeeded in abolishing their fiscal authority. This may have been Philip II’s objective in the Netherlands. Alba’s fiscal reforms (1569) certainly point in that direction, but the rebellion thwarted these plans. The archdukes Albrecht and Isabella took a similar step in 1600 when they succeeded in collecting ordinary taxes on an annual basis. By that time, the royal aides (â€ãssistance’, or taxation solemnly requested by the monarch) changed in nature. From a tax comprising a changeable sum, requested at irregular intervals, it evolved into a tax with a fixed sum presented to the estates for approval at the same time every year. The reason for this change was the accumulation of a provincial burden of debt. In order to be able to pay the high and frequent aides requested in times of war, estates were forced to raise public loans. Thus the approval of annual aides became inevitable in order to pay off contracted debts. Indeed, the estates themselves were in favour of permanent taxes in order to safeguard the interests of those who had subscribed to government loans. By 1600, this evolution was complete in the Habsburg Netherlands. The archdukes demanded an annual aide of 3.6 million guilders, a sum that far surpassed the amount required to repay debt. The extra money covered the running costs of the state and war expenses.