Graduate Seminar on Political Economy

Tuesday 7th November 2017, Senior Parlour, Gonville and Caius College, 5-6:30pm

Lavinia Maddaluno (Rome Fellow, British School at Rome): Mines, soil, and the origin of wealth in the eighteenth-century Habsburg State of Milan

In 1771, Paolo Sangiorgio, a Lombard chemist who received his formation in the Habsburg-founded Schemnitz mining Academy (1763), was entrusted with a mineralogical travel by the Count of Firmian, Plenipotentiary minister in Habsburg Lombardy. Sangiorgio aimed to survey the Valsassina, in the territories of the State of Milan, in order to revitalise its mining industry. Land surveys, mineralogical travels, and the creation of a mining elite were at the core of Cameralistic conceptions of statecraft and state administration. Yet, Cameralism was never formally taught in the State of Milan, to the extent that Cesare Beccaria’s chair in ‘Cameral Sciences’ (1769) was, shortly after its foundation, renamed as chair in ‘economia pubblica’. By contextualising Sangiorgio’s mineralogical travel in the broader scenario of the political economy issues at stake in the State of Milan in the 1760s-1770s, this paper aims at discovering lost interconnections between Cameralistic ideas of statecraft and wealth production, as they emerged (or not) in Beccaria’s teaching of political economy, and the way they were enacted on the ground, through the active engagement of naturalists, as well as enlightened reformers.

Simon Adler (Cambridge): Ludwig Zinzendorf’s political economy in the Habsburg monarchy, 1750-1770

Ludwig Zinzendorf was a sophisticated economic thinker in the mid eighteenth-century Habsburg monarchy who was part of the wider intellectual movement in Europe dedicated to understanding political economy and presenting it as an independent and important activity. Self- educated, polyglot and hard-working, Zinzendorf was formidably well read and impressively numerate. His output was detailed and analytical. With an exceptionally wide knowledge, he offered a more original way to discuss the economy than the essentially didactic approach of cameralist writers. He was a reformer dedicated to propagating the most advanced European ideas and practices. For Zinzendorf, who was a pragmatist, tried and tested ideas were preferable to new ones. They could be adapted to a different political environment. In this, and in his desire to generate a more open debate on economic arguments, Zinzendorf attempted to apply a moderate format of Gournay’s French initiative in the Habsburg monarchy. In my presentation, I will briefly give some background on Zinzendorf and his works. I will then present his ideas and how they compare to those of European writers. Finally, I will provide an indication of how Zinzendorf operated in central government as a sophisticated promoter of political economy.

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