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War and the Rise of Parliaments

Author

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  • Leandro de Magalhaes
  • Francesco Giovannoni

Abstract

We consider the development of political institutions in Europe between 1350 and 1700 AD. In particular, we propose a model which links the i) frequency of calling of Parliament and ii) the transition (or absence of such transitions) to "Rule by Parliament" (i.e. Constitutional Monarchy) with the risks associated with particular battles and the underlying economic relationship between monarchs and the commercial elites. We test the model's predictions with a dataset we compile for England, France, Portugal and Spain that includes yearly parliamentary activity, major battles and measures of economic activity. We find support for two predictions of the model. Firstly, we provide empirical evidence that Parliaments are more likely to be called in years in which a) the country suffers a territorial defeat - our proxy for a high-risk war; and b) agriculture output is relatively low - our proxy for the resources available to the monarch that are not constrained by the commercial elites. We also discuss a case study for each of the countries in our dataset that links the model's results with the development (or lack) of transitions to Rule by Parliament.

Suggested Citation

  • Leandro de Magalhaes & Francesco Giovannoni, 2019. "War and the Rise of Parliaments," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 19/709, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:uobdis:19/709
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    Keywords

    Political Transitions; Wars; Glorious Revolution; Commitment; Parliament; Autocracy; Democracy.;
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