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Lessons in public finance management from 16th century Florence

The financial crisis of 2008 stressed the need for tools that provide better insight into public finance. An EU initiative explored the beginnings of political economy and thought in order to offer solutions.
Lessons in public finance management from 16th century Florence
The EU-funded CREDIT AND REPUBLIC (Public debt and the republic: Florentine political thought and public finance from 1470 to 1537) project set out with the premise that the intellectual history of public finance can deliver appropriate tools.

To achieve its aims, CREDIT AND REPUBLIC investigated the financial context of and republican ideas in early 16th century Florence. Researchers exploited little-known Florentine archival materials that could provide an answer to the basis of modern financial thinking and custom. They collaborated with preeminent experts in the domain at the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought at Queen Mary University of London.

At the centre of research activity was Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli's political treatises and works. He heavily criticised the political and economic elite, and vehemently argued for the need to protect the majority against the wealthy minority. In his capacity as Second Chancellor of the Florentine Republic, Machiavelli set out to develop innovative political programmes to render the Republic independent of financial power.

Project partners participated in six international conferences and made presentations at four workshops and seminars in France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. In all, 19 publications in English, French and Italian were produced, including papers, peer-reviewed journal articles, and reviews and chapters in books. They dealt with intellectual and financial history, focusing on the link between democracy and public debt.

CREDIT AND REPUBLIC delved deep into the annals of early modern Florence to demonstrate how the relationship between the management of public debt and the development of new democracies can be of value and lead to solutions in today's economic climate.

Related information


Public finance management, public debt, Niccolò Machiavelli, Florentine Republic
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