State expenditure

According to the military revolution debate, conceptual thinking around the topic of the rise of army sizes has been linked to the development of the state’s ability to generate financial resources. In turn, the rise of the fiscal state has been seen as a consequence of warfare needs, because the latter justified increased taxation levels. Given the context of overseas warfare and intercontinental trade throughout the sixteenth century, the Crown decided to continue with its redistributive policy towards their clientele rather than making a considerable investment in military recruitment, aiming to add to the army. State expenditure was generally assigned according to political and economic needs. Thus, it was clearly in line with the former period. This suggests a certain degree of stagnation at the level of “stateness.”

There are three possible ways to explore state expenditure in military aifairs: the state “budgets”; the exceptional expenses; and the growth of public debt, account for the credit amassed by the Crown since the early 1500s. During this period, state budgets dealt with estimates of expenditure and not exactly with what was being spent in the end. They are available in a limited number, and the way they were envisaged through time makes a direct comparison difficult.38 Nevertheless, a comparison with other (similarly under developed) lists of state expenditure and revenues provides us with benchmarks for the years 1527, 1534, 1543, 1557, 1563, and 1588.

Table 4.4 shows the expenditure from 1527 to 1588 (which is the first known budget under the Habsburg composite monarchy). By adding figures for all the categories identified with the redistributive policy - that is, annuities, dowries and scholarships, subsidies to the high nobility, household pensions, and royal family subsidies -all benchmarks total 50 per cent or more, with only two exceptions (1557 and 1588, respectively, with 33.5 per cent and 28.8 per cent). This indicates that the redistributive policy remained relevant for most of sixteenth century, although it gradually lost pre-eminence as the period ended.

Two reasons explain this decrease. First and foremost, the expenses with overseas affairs, which are clear in the percentages for 1534, 1557, and 1588 (respectively, 24.8 per cent, 31.4 per cent, and 36.3 per cent). The early 1530s marked a turning point for North Africa, because of the rise of Moorish power, the debate held at the Portuguese court on whether the Portuguese outposts should be maintained or partially abandoned, and the ceaseless call for more means and men. Consequently, among these overseas expenses was the cost of the armadas and the garrisons of each outpost, namely soldiers and other military staff.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to accurately tell how much expense was dedicated solely to maintaining and/or enlarging the army. The budget for the last

TABLE 4.4 Set expenditure, 1527-88 (in percentage of the state budget)

1527

1534

1543

1557

1563

1588

Alms and public works

5.0

1.0

0.8

1.0

1.1

2.2

Annuities (teii(iis)

26.7

29.5

33.8

24.7

33.1

22.1

Debt servicing

11.9

4.0

n/a

6.0

13.2

17.3

Dowries & scholarships

5.0

4.8

n/a

1.6

3.7

0.3

Subsidies to the high nobility

3.1

2.0

9.2

4.0

6.0

2.6

Household pensions (momdias)

17.9

8.6

12.8

0.6

2.5

3.8

Judicial system

2.6

3.0

2.8

1.7

3.5

7.4

North Africa and the navy

13.6

24.8

n/a

31.4

n/a

36.3

Royal chamber and/or treasury

5.5

5.5

4.7

18.8

8.1

6.0

Royal family subsidies

8.7

7.1

5.1

2.6

5.4

0.0

Exceptional expenses

n/a

9.7

12.0

7.6

12.2

2.0

Sources amt criteria: Categories adapted from Henriques, State Finance, p. 285 (Fig.36). The category “North Africa and the navy” contained expenditure on the Atlantic outposts, “n/a” is used when the estimate was not included or was not discernible. Data per benchmark as provided by Pereira, “O Orca- mento,”208—210(1527); CSL, vol. I, 38-42 (1534); Pinto, “Folha de receita e despesa do Reino para 1543,” 161—4 (1543); Gavetas, vol. I, 891-5 (1557); Pinto, “Folha de receita e despesa do Reino para 1563,” 169-172 (1563); and Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal (Lisbon), cod. 637, fls. llv-34v (1588).

benchmark (1588) indicates that a little over one-third (35 per cent) of the expenditure with overseas affairs was assigned to the payment of wages and the maintenance of soldiers and military staff. This would represent 12.7 per cent of the yearly total. While relevant, this estimate is without comparison, making its evolution impossible to see. Yet it is still lower, for instance, than the estimate for annuities, which continued to be one of the top bulk expenses.

A second other reason lies perhaps in the growing tendency to obtain a more careful and considered plan of expenditure, especially given the context of public debt growth in the mid sixteenth century, as well as higher challenges in the upkeep of the overseas trade. The evolution of some of these categories supports this argument. For instance, the apparent coincidence between the benchmarks of 1534, 1543, and 1563 and the request for extraordinary subsidies in the Cortes (see next paragraph) should be highlighted. In turn, after 1560, more resources were being assigned to servicing the debt. This is clear from the increase in the respective percentage in 1588, although it can already be noticed in 1563. The fact that from 1534 onwards budgets started to include a category for extraordinary expenses is revealing. This can be attributed, hypothetically, to high officials of the king’s treasury’s awareness (vedores da fazenda) of the financial situation’s deserving concern.39

Apart from the expenditure calculations by the monarchy, the exceptional expenditure should be taken into account. This came through additional requests for funding (pedidos or serui(os), which were usually presented before parliament (Cortes). In the same way as in the late medieval period, the sixteenth-century Cortes under the Aviz dynasty urged parliamentary representatives to disburse the

servifos needed, in order to cover this type of expenditure. Between 1525 and 1580, the Cortes met six times. In four of them (Torres Novas in 1525, Evora in 1535, Almeirim 1544, and Lisbon in 1562), the Crown was able to collect extraordinary revenues worth 550,000 cruzados (or 2.2 million rcais).4" Behind these requests was the need to pay for dowries, the expenses with armadas and overseas trade, and military costs from the North African outposts. Between 1523 and 1544, the Crown had an extraordinary expenditure of 1.092 billion rcais, of which half (51.3 per cent) was destined to pay for dowries, more than one-quarter (29 per cent) for armadas to the Indie, and only 14.7 per cent for military expenses in North Africa.41 This order reflected the priorities of the Crown, as redistribution and the overseas trade came first, and warfare only second, as an unplanned contingency.

An alternative way to assess state expenditure with military recruitment relies, even if only partially, on the evolution of sovereign credit through the emission of public debt during the sixteenth century. As already noticed, extraordinary expenses were high, and additional servifos fell short of financial necessities. Therefore, the conditions were created for the debt stock to increase. We know that the debt stock increased in this period and that this became a problem for state finances during the rule ofjoao III, specifically from 1540 onwards. The need to finance the overseas expeditions was the main reason why public debt kept growing, because money was required not only to arm ships and buy silver - the exchange currency for spices - but also to recruit soldiers, subsidize fortification works in North Africa and the province of Algarve, and to pay for additional war-related expenses.42

Unfortunately, we cannot accurately discern how much of the credit generated from debt emission was allocated to funding the army alone. Out of the emissions carried out between 1500 and 1580, approximately half concerned warfare and fortifications in North Africa.44 As other scholars have noted, these emissions were bought by nationals (often close to the king) for relatively small amounts, especially when compared with financial credit granted elsewhere in Europe.44 Only sporadically were these emissions substantial in terms of warfare, such as the credit of 100,000 cruzados (40 million rcais) that allowed King Sebastiao to part fund the offensive war against Fez, in 1578.45 While this topic remains largely unexplored and deserves further study, we suggest that credit was of little significance to military change, especially in what concerns the increase in size of armies. It certainly boosted the number of effectives momentarily in times of crisis, but no structural change happened regarding the overseas garrisons and even less in the mainland.

 
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