The Victory of Fiat Money, Endless War, and the Rise of the “Citizen Soldier”
The stage was now set for the victory of fiat money after the series of bloody religious wars that plagued Europe over the 16th and 17th centuries. For the first time some combatants would, at least initially, fight for religious “ideals” rather than pay or feudal obligation and this marks the beginning of the end of the Classical phase of European warfare. This phase of endless war was funded by ever increasing amounts of silver borrowed on credit which, together with an endless series of tax decrees, initiated severe price inflation, economic depressions, and peasant revolts that became larger and more expensive to quell (on credit). With both political and economic chaos spreading across Europe, it was at this time its intelligentsia began to espouse the “Universal Rights of Man” which, for its time, was nothing short of extreme radicalism as it demanded an end to the centuries old divine rights of the sovereign over his increasingly taxed subjects.
These tenets of the “Universal Rights of Man” were quickly adopted and championed by the Bourgeoisie / Burghers / Borghese, skilled craftsmen, and lesser nobility as a means to not only elevate their social status, but also to break free from their centuries old and ever increasing taxation and military funding obligations to the sovereign. The Reformation and subsequent religious wars proved that rebellion could, albeit at an extreme loss of (peasant) life, extricate a people from its taxation obligation to the Papal Empire. By the latter half of the 18th century, simmering peasant rebellions began to flare into outright revolution as the “Social Contract” between the sovereign and subject disintegrated, prices for basic necessities skyrocketed due to the increasing taxation and coin debasement needed to fund wars and extreme opulence. Sovereign default became state policy as by sovereign right, and the creditor class began to suffer heavy losses as the wars had no effect other than spawn new wars and drive the state further into debt, upon which it would eventually default, all while the state court played parlor games and gambled (on credit).