Jeroen Puttevils

Invoking Fortuna and Speculating on the Future. Lotteries in the 15th and 16th Century Low Countries

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Future Expectations; Lotteries; Low Countries; Fifteenth Century; Sixteenth Century.

Fifteenth- and sixteenth-century lotteries offer a unique insight in the practices of forecasting and thinking about the future. Intellectual historians (and sociologists who build further on these historians' work and have tied the modern perception of the future to the advent of capitalism) have argued that a modern understanding of the future as open and constructible only developed in the eighteenth century. However, their characterization of future thinking prior to that century is rather sketchy and based on socially biased sources. Through an analysis of the documents produced by Low Countries lottery entrepreneurs on the one hand and the poems by lottery ticket buyers this paper reconstructs the respective discourses of future-thinking by these different social groups. Lottery organizers clearly thought about the future, in secularized fashion and in a non-actuarial sense. Divine providence is predominantly on the minds of the ticket buyers, or at least such ideas of providence are discursively reproduced.

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