Making War Pay for War. Napoleon and the Dutch War Subsidy, 1795-1806.


  • Mark Edward Hay Erasmus University Rotterdam



The Netherlands, Revolutionary and Napoleonic History, War Financing, Fiscal-Military State, Diplomacy and International Relations


Just over one decade ago, Pierre Branda published a study of Napoleonic public finance. The study marks a turning point in the historiography of Napoleonic war financing because, through relying on well-researched quantitative data, Branda lays to rest the long-held myth that Napoleon ‘made war pay for war’. However, the Franco-centric conceptualisation of Napoleonic resource extraction and the temporal delineation have resulted in a prism that omits certain sources of revenue. This omission has a bearing on Branda’s overall assessment of Napoleonic war financing. Through exploring French resource extraction in the Netherlands through forcing the Dutch to pay for the maintenance of a French contingent, this article builds on Branda’s work to shed a new light on the success of Napoleonic resource extraction and war financing.


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Author Biography

Mark Edward Hay, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Dr Mark Edward Hay read history in Amsterdam, Leiden, Paris and Oxford before taking up an AHRC-funded doctorate in history from King’s College London. His doctoral research, titled Calculated Risk. Collaboration and Resistance in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Netherlands, 1780-1806, explored Dutch financial diplomacy in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era. Subsequently, Mark took up the Economic History Society Power Research Fellowship at the University of London to explore the role of female financiers in the consolidation and national re-orientation of the Amsterdam capital market, 1810-1820. He now teaches economic and international history at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.




How to Cite

Hay, M. E. (2020). Making War Pay for War. Napoleon and the Dutch War Subsidy, 1795-1806. TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 17(2), 55–82.



Research Article