Zorgeloos plezier | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 134 Number 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



Focusing as a case study on the fairs of Kortrijk, a middle-sized city in the county of Flanders, this contribution aims to further our knowledge of an increasing respectability of fairs in the eighteenth century. The city magistrate regulated fairs, but also increasingly had an active role in their organization. Kortrijk had a variety of fairs in the early modern period, ranging from local parish processions to two large scale commercial fairs with additional forms of entertainment visited by people coming from as far away as Normandy. The fairs were celebrated practically all year round and were spread over many locations in the city. They took place on squares and in public buildings. Although traces of the fairs are scarce and need deep archival research to be recovered, there is no doubt that in the latter half of the seventeenth century and in the eighteenth century the fairs of Kortrijk were attractive for all social groups and deemed respectable. This ties in with current research on fairs by, among others, Benjamin Heller and Ann Tlusty, who have situated fairs as visited by elites and actively promoted by city governments. Why this was so, I suggest, is because the persistence of fairs as cyclical ritual in the Austrian Netherlands matched with policies of local government to create spaces and activities of leisure for their citizens.


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