The Sinews of War, the Sun King, and the Financial Burdens and Perils of Being a Superpower

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar


This paper was given to the main research seminar of the History Department in the College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA when I was the visiting academic under the St Andrews-Wiiliam and Mary exchange programme. The paper takes Paul Kennedy's famous 30-year-old thesis about the rise and fall of great powers, and provides a particular angle on understanding exactly how strategic and imperial overstretch can do catastrophic financial and, in turn, strategic damage to a major power - in this case Louis XIV's France. In the paper, the accent is placed upon the huge burdens and wealth transfer problems caused by moving colossal state resources abroad.
Period20 Mar 2018
Held atCollege of William and Mary, United States, Virginia
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Financial History
  • strategy
  • Louis XIV
  • Paul Kennedy
  • overstretch
  • decline
  • great powers