On 18 June 1815, a coalition under Wellington, consisting of troops from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hanover, Brunswick, and Nassau, combined with a Prussian army under Blücher to meet and defeat Napoleon’s army at Waterloo. This victory, while not immediately ending the war, effectively put an end to almost a quarter of a century of continuous warfare between England and France. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the national debt of England stood at £848,000,000, almost 240% of GDP. How, with a population only about half that of France, was the United Kingdom able to finance 23 years of worldwide war and how did it affect the British economy and the average citizen?
Financing the Wars
As 1792 ended, the British economy already was responding to the challenges caused by previous war spending. Unlike America, where the printing of large quantities of paper money during the Revolutionary War led to hyperinflation, an undermining of public confidence, and almost brought the American war effort to a halt, Continue reading