We welcome you to join us for the next meeting of the Money, Markets, and Governance workshop on Tuesday, Apr. 19, 4:30PM – 6PM, at Social Science Research Building classroom 401.
PhD Candidate, History Department, University of Chicago
Settling Accounts: The Émigré Indemnity and Financializing Citizenship in Restoration France
Discussant: Charlotte Robertson
PhD Student, History Department, University of Chicago
Abstract: In 1824, France’s Finance Minister and head of government Villèle had a wonderful idea. Ever since the French Revolution, the question of the émigré lands had remained a stinging reminder of lingering social discontent. A substantial amount of property had been expropriated from those fleeing France – the émigrés – property which had since changed ownership. But the émigrés had, eventually, returned to France, opening up the question of property’s legitimacy once again. At the same time, France’s public debt was surging above par value, suggesting that opportunities for cheaper credit might be available. Villèle sought to address both these problems at once. He proposed to fund an indemnity to the émigrés, settling once and for all the question of title to property, by issuing a new security in public debt, the 3% rente. This indemnity was, moreover, to be funded by writing down a substantial portion of the extant 5% rente. Many existing bondholders did not quite see the virtues of Villèle’s plan. The outcry was swift, taking the form of moralized accounts of financial matters. I argue that the debates over and eventual resolution of the émigré indemnity reveal a “financialized” aspect of citizenship in the postrevolutionary state, in which public debts placed mutual obligations upon both state and citizen.
*** For a fruitful discussion, participants are requested to engage with the paper in advance. For a copy of the paper, contact the coordinators***
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