2004
Volume 54, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2589-4617
  • E-ISSN: 2667-2081

Abstract

Abstract

The professional use of numbers, tables, and statistics has been well studied for the (early) modern period. However, research on the application of Hindu-Arabic numerals and statistical practices by the middling ranks of society in the period between 1500 and 1850 is hitherto understudied. This article aims to provide a remedy for this historiographical gap by demonstrating when and how early modern chroniclers started to use Arabic numerals and tables in their writings and which developments we can discern in the period between 1500 and 1850. To do so, it turns to a corpus of 310 handwritten chronicles, produced by a heterogenous group of authors from the Low Countries. From the analyses, it appears that in the second half of the eighteenth-century local authorities stimulated statistical practices in their record-keeping and that these were consequently picked up by society at large. Studying these chronicles not only provides us with new perspectives on the broader reception of (new) knowledge and novel practices in this period, but also illustrates what early modern people regarded as useful knowledge.

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