The Development of Zinzendorf’s Thinking on State Credit

  • Simon AdlerEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance book series (PSHF)


In early 1756, Zinzendorf returned from a diplomatic mission to Russia, Sweden and Denmark. At that time, Kaunitz was engaged in diplomatic efforts to build the monarchy’s strategic alliance with France and was aware that a new military conflict with Prussia was approaching. He asked Zinzendorf to devise a mechanism which would allow Austria to quickly raise additional funds. Zinzendorf wrote a proposal which was printed in 1757 as Pro Memoria an eine ständische Deputation einen Vorschlag zur Erleichterung des ständischen Credites betreffend. Even though only intended as a temporary measure to raise war finance, Zinzendorf presented a thorough and innovative financial system. His hope was that it would be recognised as a valuable mechanism with equal relevance for war and peacetime. The Pro Memoria was the first substantial result of Zinzendorf’s intellectual engagement with reforming the state credit of the monarchy. Importantly, it was Zinzendorf’s starting point for creating more robust economic structures for the monarchy. Printed in quarto, the Pro Memoria was intended for a wider dissemination so that government and Estates officials could become familiar with the new financial operation. A revised version was printed in 1759 as Finanz-Vorschläge zur Fortsetzung des gegenwärtigen Krieges. Allerhöchst Ihro Röm- Kais.-König. Apostolischen M.M.. Alleruntertänigst übergeben von Ludwig Grafen und Herrn von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf; dero wirklichen geheimen Rathe, Cämmerern und Assessore in denen Directoriis in publicis et cameralibus. Im Monat Jul.1759. In 1758, Zinzendorf had a written manuscript version, ‘Projet de Finance pour la continuation de la Guerre’. In the French text, Zinzendorf replaced the Estates of Lower Austria as the issuer of the bonds with the Vienna City Bank and tripled the issue size of the financial operation to 6 million florins. The other elements of the Pro Memoria remained largely unchanged. The use of the Vienna City Bank was a concession to Count Rudolf Chotek, its president, and to other officials in government who voiced strong opposition to Zinzendorf’s plan. Over four years, Kaunitz relentlessly pursued his plan to have Zinzendorf’s ideas accepted by government. Eventually, in 1761, the empress authorised the creation of an Estates Credit Deputation of Austrian and Bohemian lands and appointed Zinzendorf as its first president.

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Visiting Research FellowAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria

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