When it comes to war, beer beats silver and gold

Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:35pm IST

Related Topics

Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers ride their camels as they rehearse for the "Beating the Retreat" ceremony in New Delhi January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

"Beating The Retreat" Rehearsals

Rehearsals are on for "Beating the Retreat" ceremony which symbolises retreat after a day on the battlefield, and marks the official end of the Republic Day celebrations.  Slideshow 

(Reuters) - The Dutch drank their way to victory and independence from Spain in 1648 through the taxes they paid on beer, according to a report in the April issue of the Journal of American Association of Wine Economists.

Economists Koen Deconinck of the University of Leuven and Johann Swinnen of Stanford University wrote that taxes on beer "played a crucial role in financing the revolt ... (and) were the single largest revenue source" for the outnumbered and outgunned Dutch, who were facing "the mightiest empire on earth."

Since beer was safer to drink than water, cheaper to buy than wine, and not as easily spoiled as milk, it was the drink of choice for many Dutchmen.

In his book, "Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance," Robert Unger estimated that by the year 1600 per capita consumption of beer in Holland ranged from 400 liters to 600 liters (106 gallons-159 gallons).

As the Dutch revolt dragged on for 80 years, taxes on beer were increased until they became Holland's largest source of income. The levies were collected through a method "resembling the VAT system in use in many European countries ... (and it) allowed them to outlast the Spanish," Deconinck and Swinnen said.

At their peak, they estimated, war costs represented 11 percent of Dutch gross domestic product.

The Congressional Research Service estimated that at its peak, the Iraq war represented 1 percent of U.S. GDP.

Spain, financing its war with Holland largely with taxes on gold and silver mined at colonies in the New World, spent roughly 6 percent of its GDP, Deconinck estimated.

Unable to pay its troops for months at a time and facing almost annual mutinies, Spain signed the Treaty of Munster in 1648, officially recognizing the Dutch Republic and ceding the land north of Flanders to the rebels. The Dutch were also allowed to keep their overseas possessions and their monopoly over the East Indies trade, which they acquired during the revolt.

The treaty set the boundaries that still divide Belgium from the Netherlands.

The full report is available at: here

(Reporting By Leslie Gevirtz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Reuters Showcase

ONGC Share Sale

ONGC Share Sale

ONGC share sale scheduled for this fiscal - oil minister  Full Article 

The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/Files

Record Earnings

Apple iPhone sales trample expectations as profit sets global record  Full Article 

'Umrika' At Sundance

'Umrika' At Sundance

From Oscars to Sundance, Sharma and Revolori discuss India's 'Umrika'  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Smooth Wawrinka, ill Serena through to Melbourne semis   Full Article 

India's Male Tenor

India's Male Tenor

India's lone male tenor aims to sing opera in local key  Full Article 

Japan Hostages

Japan Hostages

Mother of Japanese captive begs PM to save son held by Islamic State  Full Article 

Tripoli Attack

Tripoli Attack

Frenchman, American among those killed in Tripoli hotel attack - Libyan official.  Full Article 

U.S. Blizzard

U.S. Blizzard

Blizzard hits Boston and New England, spares New York despite forecasts.  Full Article 

Spying Row

Spying Row

Spying program leaked by Snowden is tied to campaign in many countries.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage