Lotteries in the Ancient and Medieval World
Scholars disagree on who started the ancient tradition of lotteries, but there are references in the Bible. In Chapter 26 in the Book of Numbers, Moses used a lottery to award land west of the River Jordan.
c. 100-44 B. C.: Forms of lotteries date back to Caesar.
100 BC: The Han Dynasty in China created keno. Funds raised by lotteries were used for defense, primarily to finance construction of the Great Wall of China.
1446: In one of the first recorded European lotteries, the widow of the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck holds a raffle to dispose of his remaining paintings.
1465: Lotteries were held in Belgium to build chapels, almshouses, canals and port facilities.
1515: Six names were drawn for election to the Senate in Genoa, Italy; later the names were changed to numbers. The word “lottery” is believed to come from the Italian word “lotto”, meaning destiny or fate.
1530: Florence, Italy held a “Number Lottery” with cash prizes.
1539: King Francis I of France authorized a lottery to replenish depleted funds in the treasury. Many of these funds had been flowing to foreign lotteries.
1567: Queen Elizabeth I establishes the first English state lottery. Prizes include cash, plate, and tapestry, with 400,000 tickets
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