Money, Banks and Finance in Economic Thought

Free Trade in Times of War: Diverse Perspectives on the Continental Blockade

Victor Bianchini, University Center of Mayotte
Nicolas Eyguesier, University of Lille

During the years of the Continental Blockade (1806-1814), the rivalry between France and England has an important commercial dimension. Napoleon's wager was that by depriving England of her market opportunities on the European Continent, the island would be ruined. The blocus raised different reactions on both sides of the Channel, such as that of Spence, Lord Sheffield, James Mill, Sismondi, D'Ivernois, Magnien, and Peuchet. The aim of this paper is to explore their little known writtings through two central questions. The first one concerns the respective characteristics of the French and English economies, in relation to the changes caused by the Revolution, and the current industrialization of England: is the Blocus properly suited to such characteristics? The second rests upon the neutral issue: is it possible and suitable to prevent the trafficking of neutral ships? It will be shown that the authors’ diverse perspectives on the continental blockade give new insights into the place of free trade in times of war.

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Keywords: Continental blockade ; free trade ; Sismondi ; D'Ivernois ; James Mill

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