Wars, Blockade, and Economic Change in Europe, 1792–1815

TitleWars, Blockade, and Economic Change in Europe, 1792–1815
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1964
AuthorsCrouzet, François
JournalJournal of Economic History
Start Page567
Pagination567 - 588
Date Published12/1964

The wars which raged almost continuously from 1792 to 1815 and which are generally, but not quite properly, called in English the Napoleonic Wars, are the longest period of warfare which Europe has known since the early eighteenth century, and as they took place at a crucial stage of economic development, when the Industrial Revolution had just taken off in England and when its preliminary stirrings were showing in various places of the Continent, their impact upon the growth of industry in Continental Europe was quite serious. Unlike the twentieth-century world wars, the Napoleonic Wars were not marked by large-scale physical destruction; though the productive potential of some towns or districts suffered from military operations or civil disturbances, such destruction was quite limited in space and time. On the other hand, most European countries suffered during the wars from bouts of paper-money inflation, which had undoubtedly serious consequences—especially in France during the Revolution, when the working capital of many merchants and manufacturers was destroyed through the combination of a sharp rise in their costs, of price control under the maximum, and of payment of government orders in depreciated assignats. Also, the diversion of resources to military purposes and the heavy burden of taxation and exactions must not be underestimated.

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