Charity and Power in Early Modern Italy: Benefactors and their Motives in Turin, 1541-1789

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Departing from current interpretations of what motivated individuals to become involved in charity, this study of post-Renaissance Italy argues that conflicts and tensions in social and political surroundings were crucial in prompting charitable acts.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A brief review cannot do justice to the rich texture and human detail of this study. Skillful exploitation of the neglected types of power allows Cavallo to revise the widely accepted views of changing systems of poor relief in the early modern period. especially those of Geremek and Foucault....Sandra Cavallo...performs a useful service in restoring charity and poor relief to its social context." Canadian Journal of History

"This detailed study is a solid contribution to the study of both carità and the history of hospitals. It is a welcome addition to the Wellcome Trust's support for scholarship in the history of medicine....learned and meticulous..." Bibliotheque D'Humanisme

"A pioneering contribution to current discussions of material aspects of charity." Choice

this book demands close reading, both for the tightness of its arguments and for the importance of what it has to say....Her arguments command serious attention, for they are solidly grounded in archival documentation, especially Turin's rich fund of notarial deeds and wills....Dr. Cavallo's book is crammed with novel, challenging arguments....Her book leaves few orthodoxies unscathed, and will form the point of departure for reinvigorated debate on these issues." Geoffrey Symcox, Journal of Modern Italian Studies

"...elegant and cautiously argued volume...What emerges is not merely a well-researched book, but a meticulously crafted conceptual framework. Cavallo takes no current orthodoxy for granted and therefore each observation is fresh, perceptive, and authoritative...These findings...have important implications for the history of women in institutions...this book is a significant achievement, intellectually challenging, historiographically conscious, methodologically sound, and a major contribution to our knowledge of the early modern city and its elites." The Sixteenth Century Journal

"This book deserves wide readership.... Cavallo's contributions are many, and she points the way for future research. She creatively relates adjusted patterns of charity and the promotion by charitable organizations..." William V. Hudon, American Historical Review

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
List of tables
Equivalent weights and measures
List of abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 Sixteenth-century municipal plans for poor relief 12
The 1541 plan in Turin 12
Civic ideology and provision for the poor 18
New methods and conceptions of poor relief? 23
A secularisation of charity? 29
Turin's 'civic religion' in the late Middle Ages 33
2 Civic charity in the age of state formation 39
The growth of municipal poor relief 39
Responses to the plague 44
Anti-famine policy 57
Charitable resources for the poor and sick in 'normal times' 69
Poor relief and city politics 80
The rise of ducal charity 86
3 Motivations for charity 98
From civic to voluntary charity 98
Charity and the defence of status 108
Corporate control over charity 115
The internment of the poor 120
Charity and prestige 127
Charity and patronage 140
The management of charity 146
4 Charity and gender 153
Women and convents 153
Asylums for penitents 160
Women and property 167
Charity as an expression of conflict within the family 175
5 Hospitals and poor relief in the age of absolutism 183
Attacking the independence of charitable institutions 183
The 1717 congregazioni di carita 188
The first lying-in ward and school for midwives 196
The hospital reforms of the 1730s 208
The privatisation of charitable resources 214
6 The state system of relief 225
Ambiguities in the government's poor relief policy 225
From charities to workhouses 229
The institutions change their architectural form 233
New definitions of poverty in the second half of the eighteenth century 241
Conclusion 250
Bibliography 258
Index 271
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