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Varied Attitudes and Changing Responses to the Poor

Varied Attitudes and Changing Responses to the Poor

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Published by Casi Mendoza

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Published by: Casi Mendoza on May 08, 2012
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Casey Mendoza European History AP Period 7/8 Varied Attitudes and Changing Responses to “The Poor” Attitudes towards "the

poor" in Europe varied between deserving and undeserving of charity, while responses to them changed from the 15th to the 17th centuries. On one side of the spectrum, Europeans found “the poor” to be deserving of charity, as it lead to both spiritual and societal progress. Other Europeans stated that “the poor” is undeserving of charity, as they do not contribute anything themselves. Over the course of the 15th to the 17th centuries, the responses to “the poor” changed from an emphasis on charity, to an emphasis on punishment, soon ending with indifference to poverty overall. Europeans emphasized charity towards “the poor,” finding them deserving of their assistance. Catholics stated that money given to the poor will be worth more in the afterlife (1). Vincent de Paul stated that one must help "the poor" in order to transition from bishop to saint (10). Juan Luis Vives wrote in his book, On Assistance to the Poor, that man has a "duty of charity" to help those in need (3). Having tutored monarchs such as Mary Tudor during the early peasant revolts in Europe, Vives proposed solutions to urban poverty, attempting to reform failing social legislature. Rembrandt van Rijn depicted an impoverished, ragged family receiving charity from an old, almost smiling man in his etching, "Beggars Receiving Alms at the Door of a House” (9). Described by art historians as having an empathy towards humanity, Rembrandt supported charity towards "the poor," believing that it benefited the beggar, alms giver, and society all at once. The figures of the clergy, humanism, and art agree that “the poor” deserve the kindness of their charities to benefit society. Other Europeans emphasized punishment towards “the poor” for their idleness, finding them undeserving of their charity. Emperor Charles V decreed that charity to all of "the poor" only leads to their indecent lifestyle decisions, such as prostitution or theft (4). Having dealt with the rebellions of "the poor" Frisians peasants, Charles V came to believe that further subsidizing them would only

clergy. begging less for the charity of others (11). councils. begging in the dirty streets to make up for their lack of work. and the responses to them changed from 1450 to 1700. William Turner wrote that "the poor" cite their illnesses to rely on the assistance of other people's money. to the institutionalized subsidizing of the 16th century resulted from the growing poverty. In essence. instead of taking charity away from those that deserve it (8). The poorhouses of Suffolk County. England required harsh treatment of "the poor" during the sixteenth century (7). Cardinal Richelieu stated that idle beggars should work for their money. instead of working honestly to help themselves (6)." Maillefer concluded that their simple life does not need assistance from wealthy merchants such as himself. completely undeserving of their assistance. and professionals of Europe found “the poor” to be responsible for their strife. The nobility. the attitudes towards “the poor” varied from deserving to undeserving of charity. to the lack of aid in the 17th century resulted from the independence of “the poor” away from the care of the upper classes. The variations and changes that occurred resulted from changes in economics. The rise in . The town council of Rouen. Europe had “simpler.” more feudal economic systems that made it more accessible to give charity to those in need. legislation that supported harsher treatment of "the poor" for their impotence and begging. France stated that the idle poor should not be given charity (5). Before the rise of capitalism in the 15th century. The town council of Dijon. As the amount of poverty in Europe rose. Being a doctor in London during the sixteenth century. Having listened to "the poor. Jean Maillefer stated that "the poor" of the seventeenth century have grown independent from higher classes. France proposed to care for "the poor" using their own utilities of shelter during the 15th century (2). Turner saw the unsanitary conditions of the urban poor.strengthen them to rebel again. the poorhouses of Suffolk County complied with the English Poor Laws. The responses to “the poor” changed from an emphasis on charity to punishment to indifference during the periods between 1450 and 1700. Being of England during the height of poverty. noticing that "the poor" did little to help their health. the care for their well being dwindled from the volunteered charity of the 15th century humanists.

At this point. even creating a middle class from the large gap. technology. The classes of Europe varied to the point of differing responses and attitudes towards “the poor” who were forced to fend for themselves in the harsh new reality of European society. with urbanization. . capitalism altered the socioeconomic makeup of Europe. and consumerism.more advanced capitalist systems such as the ones in the Netherlands or England widened the gap between the upper and lower classes.

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