Restoration Recessions

From the 1660s… the gentry’s prejudice against the moneyed wealth of the City grew ever stronger. More and more beholden to the City themselves for finance to cover their expenses or improve their land, they resented wealth built out of their own difficulties…

Impossible Choices

Royalists particularly blamed the bankers, whom they felt to have had a large hand in the exploitation of royalist estates during the war.

The City was (however inaccurately) depicted as dominated by Presbyterians, whose reputation for pious words mixed with sharp practice accorded well with the gentry’s view of the City as a whole.

The gentry, it seemed to them, were impoverished as the City got rich. Eventually, some of them felt, their power and influence would go the same way as their wealth.

Bankers, said one MP in 1670, “are the commonwealths-men that destroy the nobility and gentry”: they were parasites feeding off, and gradually killing, the wealth and power of the gentry.

Paul Seaward, The Restoration 1660-1688 (Macmillan, 1990), p. 29.

With seventeenth-century precedents in our media revolution and the expenses scandal, it would appear that the banking crisis – or at least the prominence of the City and the growing dislike of bankers’ wealth – also had early modern parallels.

We always claim to learn from experience, but that only ever lasts until the point when we believe that we know better. That’s when it normally turns out that we don’t know better.

Thus, it’s just all one sphere of slow, perpetual motion.



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