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Guy Rowlands’ research interests lie principally in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century military, naval, financial and French history.
His first book, The Dynastic State and the Army under Louis XIV. Royal Service and Private Interest, 1661 to 1701 (Cambridge University Press, 2002), used political, social, cultural and military approaches to examine how Louis XIV and his ministers were able to increase the size of the French army five-fold over a period of 30 years, and it stressed the importance of integrating the multiple private interests of noble families into calculations of how to organise the state. This book was co-winner of the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize in 2003.
His recent work has been on early eighteenth-century financial history. His second book, entitled The Financial Decline of a Great Power. War, Influence, and Money in Louis XIV's France (Oxford University Press, 2012), places military paymasters and suppliers at the centre of an explanation of how and why the French state’s financial situation deteriorated dramatically during the War of the Spanish Succession. Louis XIV bequeathed a legacy of debt generated in this war to his successors that made an ultimate breakdown of government much more likely. The book focusses, as no book on early modern state finances has done before, on the full range of state financial activity – taxation, borrowing, monetary policy, the appropriations system and expenditure – to explain how things went so badly wrong.
His third book, Dangerous and Dishonest Men: the International Bankers of Louis XIV’s France (Palgrave, 2014), follows up the previous study by looking at the extraordinary but damaging roles played by foreign exchange and international bankers in France’s eighteenth-century troubles. At the start of the eighteenth century Louis XIV needed to remit huge sums of money abroad to support his armies during the War of the Spanish Succession. This book explains how international bankers moved French money across Europe, and how the foreign exchange system was so overloaded by the demands of war that a massive banking crash resulted.
Professor Rowlands co-edited with Dr Julia Prest a book of essays on aspects of French history in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, entitled The Third Reign of Louis XIV, c.1682-1715 (Routledge, 2017).
Current and Future Research
Prof. Rowlands is currently under contract with Cambridge University Press for the production of a work of grand synthesis on “War, State and Society in the Early Modern European World” in the New Approaches to European History series.
In the immediate future, he is bringing to fruition a fourth monograph to be entitled The Last Argument of the King: Arms and Artillery in Louis XIV's France. The artillery system was poorly integrated into the French army during the 17th Century. As the Ministers of War sought to gain greater control over this arm-of-service, paradoxically they entrenched corruption and poor performance of duties as the price of greater armaments production. After 1700 the artillery was further compromised by state financial needs, when it was subjected to venalisation that only worsened the administration and combat performance of this arm, and not even the King's favourite son, as Grand Master of the Artillery, could prevent the erosion of standards. The book will accordingly provide a sobering and significant challenge to the notion that 'centralisation' and greater royal control brought about healthy state development in the early modern period.
Professor Rowlands sits on the Advisory Board of the ERC-funded project on 'The European Fiscal-Military System 1560-1860', run by Professor Peter Wilson (All Souls College, Oxford University), which is investigating the international and transnational sourcing and processing of men, money and materiel for European war machines in this period.
In the longer term he is working towards a comprehensive, international history of military exercises in the Western and Russian worlds from the mid-17th century to the present day.
Prof. Rowlands also has extensive interests in European international and transnational relations between the 1660s and the outbreak of the French Revolution (1789), and he maintains an interest in Jacobitism on the continent between 1688 and 1720.
Prof. Rowlands served as Secretary of the UK-wide Society for the Study of French History in 2006-08, and serves on the editorial board of that Society's journal French History. He was Director of the Centre for French History and Culture at St Andrews between 2005 and 2013. He is currently Deputy Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Strategy, which was launched formally in 2016.
During the Academic Year 2007-2008 Dr Rowlands was a visiting scholar at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg, Germany, as a Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
During the Academic Year 2010-11 he was a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow, and took up a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin.
Prof. Rowlands is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and sits on the editorial board of its “Studies in History” and “New Historical Perspectives” monograph series. He is also a member of the Money, Power and Print association, of the Contractor State Group, of the Williamite Universe community, and of the Society for Court Studies.
Articles and Essays
From 2010 to 2017 Professor Rowlands was founder and editor-in-chief of the St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture series of midigraphs, published by the Centre for French History and Culture.
At undergradate level, participates in the teaching of First Level Modern History courses and offers the following Honours courses:
Current Research Students
Former Research Students
Prof. Rowlands welcomes enquiries for Masters or doctoral research in any of his areas of teaching and research interest (see above).