Chapter 12: Economic Theory and Economic Policy in Italy during the Second Half of the Eighteenth and the First Half of the Nineteenth Century
12. Economic theory and economic policy in Italy during the second half of the eighteenth and the ﬁrst half of the nineteenth century Herbert Pruns EARLIER DEVELOPMENTS The various Italian states, like the Holy Roman Empire as a whole, cannot be said to have already had uniform economic policies by the 18th century. Up to the beginning of the 16th century there had been cultural landscapes with ﬂourishing commerce and manufacturing industry and intensive farming in many parts of Italy. But after 1522 French, Spanish and Austrian invasions brought destruction, maladministration and high taxes. They left behind a crippled economy. The impoverishment of the people and the collapse of the once ﬂourishing economy had been accelerated in many states by an economic depression beginning in the second half of the 16th century and later by those eﬀects of the Thirty Years’ War which extended south of the Alps. In 1630 came the pestilence as a catastrophic plague from Asia. Montesquieu remarked in his treatise on the Causes of the Grandeur and the Decadence of the Romans 1734, on the condition of the Italian states: ‘And in our own times, the Italian republics who pride themselves on the lasting quality of their form of government ought rather to pride themselves on the lasting quality of their abuses. Thus they have no more liberty now than Rome at the time of the Decemviri.’ This critical assessment is chieﬂy a manifestation of over 200 years of foreign rule in Italy. The...
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