Taxation 1688-1914

Patrick O'Brian evaluates the costs and benefits of Hanoverian and Victorian government.

Taking a cue from Hume and quotations from Adam Smith, liberal historians have represented British taxpayers as 'afflicted' between 1688 and 1815 from the depredations of a Military Fiscal State.' Thereafter, and with the 'waning of old corruption', they are said to have prospered from the lighter burdens imposed on their incomes by Victoria's laisser faire cabinets. Do these depictions capture any-thing illuminating about the costs and benefit of the Hanoverian and Victorian governments who ran the kingdom between 1688 and 1914?

States without income are without power. Thus records of total taxes collected from the population can be used to represent not merely the burdens imposed on taxpayers but the evolving capacity of the state to fund the policies of kings and their ministers.

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