Poverty, A History: A History

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Widely regarded as one of the classics of post-war historical writing, this book shows how central the role of poverty has been throughout the history of Europe. It ranges across the period from the first millennium to the present day, casting a fresh and revealing perspective on the actions of individuals, groups and nations, and on the underlying nature of the greatest social changes the continent has experienced.

It shows how the rich and those in authority have always expressed mixed feelings about the poor, oscillating between pity and fear, compassion and revulsion. It examines why this occurs and discusses the effects it has on private and public actions.

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Editorial Reviews

A study of why those in authority in church and state have, over the centuries, expressed mixed feelings about the poor, have oscillated between pity and fear, compassion and revulsion--and the changing nature of the poor themselves. The volume shows how central the role of poverty has been throughout the history of Europe. Written in Polish in 1968, but not then published, this is a translation of the Italian edition of 1986 (Rome: Giuseppe Laterza & Figli Spa). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631154259
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/1997
  • Pages: 273
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: What is Poverty? 1
1 The Middle Ages: is Poverty Necessary? 15
1.1 The Medieval Idea of Poverty and the Social Reality 18
1.2 Alms and Beggars 36
1.3 The Rural Poor and the Urban Poor 52
2 The Disintegration of Medieval Society 73
2.1 The Social Circumstances 76
2.2 Poverty and Economic Expansion 92
2.3 The Dimensions of Poverty 102
3 Reformation and Repression: the 1520s 120
3.1 Paris: Moral Anxiety and Fear 124
3.2 Venice: Social Hygiene and Repression 131
3.3 Ypres: Urban Poverty and Reform 136
4 The Reform of Charity 142
4.1 France: Grenoble, Rouen and Lyons 148
4.2 Spain: Valladolid 160
4.3 England: the Edicts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth Poor Law 163
4.4 The Organization of English Social Aid 167
5 Charitable Polemics: Local Politics and Reasons of State 178
5.1 Luther's Attitude towards the Poor 180
5.2 The Influence of Erasmus, Vives and other Individual Theorists 184
6 Prisons of Enlightenment 206
6.1 The Roman Procession 207
6.2 'Labore nutrior, labore plector' 215
6.3 The General Hospital and the 'Great Imprisonment' in France 220
7 Poverty and the Contemporary World 230
7.1 Pauperization and the 'Discoveries' of Poverty 230
7.2 The Idea of Philanthropy 238
7.3 The Poverty of Nations 243
Conclusion: a Return to Compassion? 248
Notes 252
Bibliography 256
Index 265
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