30 July 2018

SSRN PAPER: David FOX, "The Anglo-Scots Monetary Union of 1707" [Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper 2018/24]

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This article analyses the 1707 monetary union between England and Scotland, seen from a legal historical perspective. The task requires a contextual interpretation of Article XVI of the Treaty of Union but, more especially, a fine analysis of the accounting and administrative documents that implemented the union as a numismatic process. Only when these are understood do the questions of private law emerge from the interstices. The article adds to the emerging literature on the economic history of monetary integration. One theme in the literature is the inter-relationship between political and monetary union. Political union drives monetary union but states that seek to preserve their political autonomy may accept some measure of monetary integration between themselves to facilitate trade relations. Strange as it may now seem, the monetary union of 1707 seemed relatively uncontentious in Scotland at the time. The reason may be that it was incidental to the bigger and more difficult question of political union between the two kingdoms. Unlike the formation of the euro-area nearly 300 years later it did not involve the cession of monetary sovereignty by states that, notionally at least, remained politically sovereign. The main effect of the union was simply to rebase the monetary standard of the currency in Scotland with the currency in England. That had been the goal of the Scottish monetary authorities since 1604, after the regnal union established by James VI/I. In one sense, the union simply restored the long-established status quo.
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