November 16, 2020
11 am EST
“Greed is Good. The Development of Lotteries in the Late Medieval Low Countries.”
Jeroen Puttevils, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Antwerp (Belgium), Twitter: @JeroenPuttevils.
This paper documents the rise of lotteries in the fifteenth-century Low Countries and tries to explain both the origins and the spectacular and speedy success of the lottery as a financial product. Inter-urban competition and co-operation and the presence of large urban middling groups were key to the development of the lottery. To organizers it proved to be a source of emergency income while it offered ticket buyers the restructuring of interest payments and debt arrears owed to them by different towns, excitement and entertainment, and a way to show charity to the wider community. The lottery as a specific pecuniary process of forward-looking valuation (Levy) is used as a case to demonstrate the capitalist nature of the late medieval Low Countries and the fact that lotteries opened up the capitalist bubble – to borrow from Braudel – to wider segments of society.