Chapter 1

Hospitals and the Poor

The beginning point for all studies of medieval hospitals, institutional medical care, and relief starts with the notion of poverty, a complex theme as it pertains to the Middle Ages. For some poverty was an affliction; for others, it was a source of virtue. Poverty was never seen purely in economic terms, but rather viewed as a form of degradation that rendered the individual vulnerable or dependent. Thus the sources speak of the poor man, the poor knight, and the poor cleric. For some, such as monks and friars, this humiliation was voluntary and thus a source of virtue, but others were merely victims of economic need, old age, or disease that made life difficult to sustain and even caused a diminution in rank or status. For the latter group, the defining concept was less the absolute level of their subsistence -- what we today call the poverty line -- than their lack of power to sustain a particular status without some sort of assistance. Thus, as Michel Mollat notes, the word poverty was used in the Middle Ages first as an adjective. Its transformation into a collective and abstract noun, to designate the poor as a group distinct from the rest of society, dates only from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. (1)

Patristic writers, echoing both biblical injunctions as well as the sentiments of Roman stoic philosophers, acknowledged that Christians had an obligation to assist the poor. But, curiously, their focus was more on the spiritual needs of the wealthy than on the material concerns of the needy. Thus the vita of Saint Eligius states: "God could have made all men rich, but He wanted there to be poor people in His world, that the rich might be able to redeem their sins."(2) Inherent in the writings of John Chrysostom, Basil, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo is a contempt for wealth, a sense that the individual could strive for God only by rejecting the material. Their injunctions to aid the poor thus reflected a spiritual motivation quite divorced from the economic and social realities of poverty. While a genuine concern for human suffering must have played some role in patristic [2] thought, nonetheless, this attitude lent a ritualistic character to charity in the early Middle Ages. For example, cathedral churches and, later, monasteries would support poor persons, often called the matricularii, who frequently were fixed in number at the apostolic twelve.(3) Monastic hospitality, too, developed its own ritual in the form of the welcome, the washing of the feet, the provision of hospitality (i.e., food and shelter), and the presentation of a farewell gift. Such folk were treated more as symbols than as real people because the monks viewed themselves as the real "poor of Christ," having voluntarily laid aside the accoutrements of power for a life of humility. Those assisted did not represent any particular economic group or class because this was a society of serfs and tenant farmers where most people by any sort of objective standard could be labeled as poor. Instead, charity focused on travelers, rich and poor alike, whose distress was of a temporary and transient nature.(4)

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, there emerged the concept of the pauper as someone distinct from the great mass of society, as one who derived his subsistence from alms and begging rather than from work. Furthermore, such individuals came to be identified, along with monks and other practitioners of voluntary poverty, as members of Christ's poor even though their distress was not a matter of choice. The conclusion that paupers were thereby owed some form of material assistance is the result of the convergence of several phenomena: among them are the Gregorian reform movement, with its revival and redefinition of the canonical life, the articulation of canon law, which gave the pauper a specific legal identity, and an economic transformation that stimulated the growth of towns, the monetization of the economy, and the creation of a distinctive class of the economically disadvantaged.

The development of a commercial economy in Europe, beginning in the eleventh century, created new hierarchies and cleavages within society. While some individual entrepreneurs as well as organized groups of traders and artisans prospered, others like unskilled workers and unattached women became marginalized. The age, furthermore, exalted values of acquisition and profit that were alien to a traditional morality that had always scorned attachments to material possessions. This, Lester K. Little, in his Religious Economy and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe, has argued, created a serious tension between morality and behavior, religion and life, within the emerging urban centers. One product of this tension was the creation of the new orders , which collectively espoused the ideal of apostolic or voluntary poverty. Some, like the Cistercians, Carthusians, and [3] Premonstratensians, attempted to reform monasticism toward greater asceticism and isolation from the world of affairs. Perhaps this same notion of ascetic detachment is also tied to the popularity of pilgrimage, which permitted ordinary laypeople to escape temporarily from the cares of their everyday life. Others, however, revived the canonical movement, which was an effort to organize the secular clergy into communities that observed a vow of poverty while practicing an active apostolate within the world. Although first envisioned as a reform of the urban clergy, the initiative in the twelfth century spawned not only numbers of reformed cathedral and collegiate chapters but also several new religious orders (the Antonines, Victorines, Trinitarians, and so on) organized under the Rule of Saint Augustine. The monastic and canonical movements took radically different approaches to poverty and to the poor. The first is typified by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who, in extolling voluntary poverty argued: "It is one thing to fill the belly of the hungry, and another to have a zeal for poverty. The one is the service of nature and the other the service of grace." The canonical movement, on the other hand, saw that its vocation lay precisely in service to the involuntary poor. (5)

Canonists, at the same time, began to define the legal status of poor persons; they concluded that, because poverty itself was not a moral evil, individuals so afflicted should not be deprived of their legal rights. Consequently, in ecclesiastical courts paupers were exempted from the payment of certain court fees and in some instances were to be provided with free counsel. Perhaps because the canonists attempted to reserve for ecclesiastical courts any case where justice might be threatened by a litigant's poverty, secular courts in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries also responded by taking note of the indigent. Within Iberian communities, for example, the office of public defender emerged to protect the rights of the poor. (6) The Church, for its part, came to accept a special duty to protect miserabiles personae, or poor wretches -- namely, widows, orphans, the blind, the mutilated, and those debilitated by long disease. Out of this developed in the early thirteenth century the theory that the poor had a right to help from the patrimony of the Church, which represented the common property of the community, as well as from the superfluities of individuals. Michel Mollat argues that the gift economy of the early Middle Ages had thus given way to an economy of moral restitution, according to which the poor, viewed in the image of the suffering Christ, had a right in both charity and justice to material assistance.(7)

While the twelfth century witnessed a significant expansion of support [4] for the needy, particularly in the form of hospices, hostels, and hospitals in towns and along pilgrim routes, charity retained some of the ritualistic character of the early Middle Ages. To a degree aid remained indiscriminate, dispensed equally to all who happened by. This is especially apparent in the development of the network of hospices along the way of Saint James and other pilgrimage routes. Perhaps the best evidence that we have for the poor as a kind of religious abstraction is found in the wills of this era. These testaments often provide that, after all bequests have been paid out and claims against the estate resolved, the residue would go the "poor of Christ" as universal heirs.(8) Theologians in the twelfth century, however, began to distinguish between two types of poor: pauperes cum Petro and pauperes cum Lazaro . The former, like the Cistercians or Carthusians and, later, the mendicants, espoused a poverty that was voluntary, and which imitated the vocation of the apostle Peter. The latter, however, like the biblical beggar Lazarus, were miserabiles personae who suffered some form of physical or material need.(9) Iberian literary sources tend to classify the pauperes cum Lazaro into three groups: those who could not work (invalids, widows, orphans), those who would not work (knaves, vagabonds), and those who experienced a temporary need (day laborers, refugees). Modern historians and social scientists distinguish among these with the terms endemic, epidemic and episodic poverty. Regardless of his or her own individual situation, each is treated as belonging to a marginalized group which, to use the corporal metaphor employed by such medieval Catalan writers as Vicent Ferrer and Francesc Eiximenis, existed within but was not an intrinsic part of the body politic. (10)

So long as the numbers of the poor were manageable, the documents show little attempt to differentiate among the needy. All were the "poor of Christ" and in a quasi-ritualistic fashion equally due alms. Indeed, the concern of early-thirteenth-century observers like Jacques de Vitry was focused more on fraudulent hospitallers and collectors of alms who were able to deceive unwary donors than on unworthy paupers. But Gratian and later canonists, including the Catalan Dominican Ramon de Penyafort, argued that charity to all is possible only in times of abundance. In eras of scarcity, it is proper to discriminate among the poor by giving preference to family and friends over strangers. The Glossa ordinaria to the Decretum, furthermore, states that the Church should not give aid to able-bodied but idle beggars "for strong men, sure of their food without work, often do neglect justice." The writings of Thomas Aquinas and Castilian legislation of the mid-thirteenth century sounded a similar note. (11) By the fourteenth century, [5] when economic hardship struck not only in Catalonia but throughout Europe, assistance to the poor became increasingly discriminate. From the early thirteenth century -- as early as 1208 and 1214 in Barcelona and 1238 in Vic--, a distinction between the pauperes verecundi (or vergonzantes, vergonyants) and the pauperes matricularii , or pobres captaires, begins to appear. The latter, the so-called public poor, were non-residents, drifters or foreigners.

In Barcelona, and elsewhere, individuals who lacked a place within society increasingly became subject to restrictions.(12) King Jaume II, for example, forbade pimps, prostitutes, the crippled and lame, the blind, those with foul diseases, and those who lacked a hand, arm, or foot to enter and loiter around the plaza of Santa Ana in Barcelona. (13) In 1322, furthermore, nonresident beggars were permitted to linger within the city for no more than a day, on penalty of expulsion and whipping; kindhearted residents were discouraged by severe penalties from helping outsiders to evade this regulation. Elsewhere in Iberia, Pedro I, at the Cortes of 1351 attempted to outlaw begging altogether within the Kingdom of Castile and ordered that all except the young, the old and the sick should work by the labor of their hands.(14) On the other hand, the honest poor, or those who were too ashamed to beg poor (pauperes verecundi), were friends and neighbors who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own; they could no longer maintain their status within the community and were thus worthy of assistance. In 1311, the bishop of Ravenna differentiated between those who publicly accepted alms and those who had to be sought out at home to be helped. The neighborhood poor, as a distinct and separate group worthy of charity, emerges in the middle of the thirteenth century in Italian communes such as Modena, Arezzo, Cremona, and Piacenza, where confraternities and even a religious order, the fratres verecundorum, were established to tend to their needs. (15) Wills extant from Catalonia and the Kingdom of Valencia from the mid-thirteenth century single out the ashamed poor as an object of special attention, and court records from fourteenth-century Barcelona show that the idea of pauperes Christi was being interpreted to favor relatives and the working poor.(16)

Laws against vagrancy and the emergence of the notion that some paupers are more deserving than others indicate an evolution in attitudes toward the poor even as the older notions remained in force. In the thirteenth century, for example, such mendicant writers as Adam di Salimbene and Giordano di Rivalto and the Castilian historian Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada (d. 1247) continued to focus upon charity's benefits for the giver by insisting that paupers had a reciprocal obligation to pray for their benefactors [6] and by emphasizing the redemptive nature of charity. (17) Into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, wealthy individuals continued the custom of bequeathing funds to provide handouts of bread, meals, or money indiscriminately to whosoever of the poor should appear on the day of their funeral or the anniversary of their death.(18) Alongside this tradition, however, developed forms of assistance like parochial alms funds that targeted particular individuals or specific groups to the exclusion of others. Furthermore, commentators like the Franciscan Francesc Eiximenis issued stern warnings against helping the false poor. Some see here a hardening of attitudes toward the poor but, in light of charity's earlier focus on the benefactor, this position is difficult to accept at face value.(19) Without a doubt, however, society in the fourteenth century took a more conscious account of the recipient's external circumstances than did the ritualistic charity of earlier centuries and responded more directly to occasions of need like plague, famine, and unemployment. Efforts to restrict begging or to regulate wages are one side of this response; the reorganization and even extension of caritative assistance are another. (20)

Medieval charity in its various forms, therefore, was intended to assuage the sins of the well-to-do and to ameliorate the condition of the deserving poor. It was not until the sixteenth century, as Brian Pullan points out, that society seriously attempted to assist and reform the lives of the marginalized poor. Before then, prostitutes, criminals, and other street people lived only at society's fringe, exposed to the uncertainties of begging and the law, and were blamed for their idleness and dissolute behavior. (21) How, then, can we characterize medieval practices toward the poor? A useful place to begin is with Gratian, the twelfth-century canonist, who distinguished between two forms of assistance: hospitalitas and liberalitas . The former is the giving of alms gratuitously and is thus, properly speaking, charity. As Gratian puts it, "In hospitality there is no regard for persons." Liberalitas, however, discriminates between friends and strangers, the honest and the dishonest, and the humble and the arrogant. Gratian says, "In this generosity due measure is to be applied both of things and of persons; . . . of persons, that we give first to the just, then to sinners, to whom, nevertheless, we are forbidden to give not as men but as sinners." Because its purpose is to advantage particular groups, liberalitas is predicated on a social policy and is thus a form of welfare.(22) Medieval assistance contains, as the following chapters will demonstrate, elements of both ideas.

Because hospitals and other providers of aid had to rely substantially on private offerings, bequests, and endowments, the issue of poor relief can [8] never be separated from personal motives and intentions. To the degree that these derived from religious and expiatory considerations, the economic and social needs of individual paupers were irrelevant. The poor were passive players in a larger drama that focused on the salvation of the giver rather than the improvement of the recipient. But this does not reflect the full reality because individuals, as well as corporate groups, increasingly began to discriminate in the disbursement of this charity, justified by the notion that resources were insufficient to succor all. Therefore, maidens, children, widows, relatives, and neighbors were preferred to vagrants, prostitutes, and able-bodied idlers. If these distinctions lack the rationally calculated engineering of a public welfare program, they do contain the kernel of a social policy.(23) This kind of assistance was not an early "War on Poverty" precisely because the medieval poor were not treated on an equal basis. To the degree, however, that private and public assistance attempted to sustain a particular social order, medieval charity reflects Gratian's notion of liberalitas . This concept of welfare, joined with its complementary and sometimes contradictory idea of charity, will form the context within which this study of public assistance in the Catalan lands will be framed.

Notes for Chapter One

1. For a discussion of the idea of poverty in the Middle Ages, see Mollat, Poor in the Middle Ages, 1-9; see also Geremek, Poverty , 3-4.

2. Geremek, Poverty, 20. Francesc Eiximenis at the start of the fifteenth century says much the same. See José Luis Martín, "La pobreza y los pobres en los textos literarios del siglo XIV," in A pobreza , 2:595.

3. For a history of the matricularii, see Michel Rouche, "La matricule des pauvres. Evolution d'une institution de charité du Bas Empire jusqu'à la fin du Haut Moyen Âge," in Mollat, Études sur l'histoire de la pauvreté, 1:83-110.

4. Among the practitioners of ritualistic charity would be Cluny, which maintained eighteen paupers in residence; in addition, the monks fed a fixed number of the poor, typically twelve, at ceremonies honoring benefactors and those of high rank but even more for exalted patrons like the kings of León. Lester K. Little, Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe (Ithaca, N.Y., 1978), 67-8. For a review of monastic customs regarding the poor, see Willibrord Witters, "Pauvres et pauvreté dans les coutûmes monastiques du Moyen Âge," in Mollat, Études sur l'histoire de la pauvreté, 1:117-216. See also Mollat, Poor in the Middle Ages, 20-23, 40-42, 46-48, 53; Marvin Becker, Medieval Italy: Constraints and Creativity (Bloomington, Ind., 1981), 101.

5. For Bernard of Clairvaux, see Little, Religious Poverty, 95. See also ibid., 41, 99-112; Geremek, Poverty, 62-66; Pierre Toubert, "La vie commune des clercs aux XIe -XII e siècles: Un questionnaire," Revue historique 231 (1964): 11-26; Caroline Walker Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley, Calif., 1982), 22-56; Giles Constable, "Renewal and Reform in the Religious Life: Concepts and Realities," in Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century, ed. Robert L. Benson and Giles Constable (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), 56, 62; M.-D. Chenu, La théologie au douzième siècle (Paris, 1966), 225-40.

6. The right to free legal counsel is a feature of the Castilian fuero of Soria, Alfonso X's Las Siete Partidas, and the acta of various Cortes. In the Cortes of Zamora, for example, Alfonso X established in his court two advocates of the poor, and in 1312 Fernando IV paid an advocate six thousand maravedis to defend orphans, widows, and other poor people who made pleas in the royal court. In Valencia and Murcia, the public defender was a municipal officer. The institution became widespread in both Spain and Italy during the fifteenth century. See Agustín Bermúdez Aznar, "La abogacía de pobres en la España medieval," in A pobreza , 1:142; Tierney, Medieval Poor Law, 12-14; and López Alonso, Pobreza en la España medieval, 395-403.

7. Mollat, Poor in the Middle Ages, 57-58. See also Tierney, Medieval Poor Law, 15-18, 33-44. The concept of right can also be seen in Thomas Aquinas' Summa theologiae: "He who suffers from extreme need can take what he needs from another's goods if no one else will give them to hi."(Little, Religious Poverty, 179).

8. In 1167, Pere Queralt left the castle of Roderico "pauperibus Hospitalis Iherusalem," that is, to the paupers of the Hospital of Jerusalem. Clearly, Pere here meant the members of the Order of Saint John, not the inmates of their Jerusalem hospital. See Cartulari de Poblet: Edicio del manuscrit de Tarragona (Barcelona, 1938), 140-42, no. 234. A century later, however, the notion of who constituted "Christ's poor" had changed dramatically, as seen in the will of Master Llorenç, a canon of Barcelona, who directed in 1267 that the residue of his estate be divided among "the poor of Jesus Christ, orphans, widows, girls to be married, and captives to be redeemed who come to the notice of my manumissors, having made those poor of Jesus Christ ... my heirs." See Arxiu de Sant Pere de les Puelles [hereafter, ASPP], carp. 33, no. 518; carp. 38, no. 585.

9. Geremek, Poverty, 25.

10. Eiximenis argues in his Regiment de la cosa pública that integration into the community requires that an individual contribute to the public good in a positive fashion: "Each one in the community ought to be employed -- rich or poor . . . male or female." Quoted in Martín, "La pobreza y los pobres," 2:590-95. See also John Henderson, Piety and Charity in Late Medieval Florence (Oxford, 1994), 346.

11. "For under the pretext of hospitality and the guise of piety, they [i.e., religious charlatans] become alms-collectors, improperly extorting monies by lies and deceptions and by every means of which they are able, feasting themselves from the poor, not caring for them except when they, by giving a little bit to the poor and infirm, are able to demand alms from the faithful, so that these crafty businessmen and sly hucksters may profit much through fraud from a certain type of prey" (Jacques de Vitry, The Historia occidentalis of Jacques de Vitry: A Critical Edition, ed. J. F. Hinnebusch [Freibourg, 1972], cap. 29, pp. 148-49). For Glossa ordinaria and the canonists, see Tierney, Medieval Poor Law, 54-61. Alfonso X of Castile, in his Las Siete Partidas, makes a distinction between the truly poor and those who "by means of their labor are able to earn what they and others can live upon, but do not do so, but rather prefer to resort to the houses of others, and support themselves in this way." The king advises the clergy that it would be better, short of actually permitting those individuals to starve to death, "to deprive them of food than to give it to them, since they avoid earning it, though able to do so, but, not being willing, choose to obtain it by knavery" (Las Siete Partidas, trans. Samuel Parsons Scott [Chicago, 1931], 1.5.40, p. 67). See also Geremek, Poverty , 47.

12. Geremek, along with Brian Pullan, believes that social concern over the dimensions of poverty that becomes evident in new public policies of the sixteenth century has its roots in the crises of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The matricularii, or registered poor, in late Roman and Merovingian times were those aided by the cathedral; indeed, in Carolingian times the position developed into a kind of office as church warden (Mollat, Poor in the Middle Ages, 40-41). For early use of the term pauperes verecundi, see Immaculada Ollich i Castanyer, "Les entitats eclesiastiques de Vic al segle XIII," Ausa 8 (1976): 93; Carme Batlle and Montserrat Casas, "La caritat privada i les institucions benèfiques de Barcelona (segle XIII)," in La pobreza, following 1:182; Cartulario de «Sant Cugat» dels Vallés, ed. José Rius Serra (Barcelona, 1945-47), 3:401, no. 1284 (August 27, 1214). With regard to restrictions upon the poor, the Établissements of Louis IX of France, for example, state that folk without steady income who loitered about in taverns could be seized and, if they led an evil life, expelled from town. In France, the first laws against vagabondage, per se, date from the mid-fourteenth century when John II ordered hospitals not to shelter vagrants. In Castile, Fernando IV ordered that beggars who were unwilling to work be expelled from Burgos; in 1351 Pedro I promulgated a more general law against vagabondage. See Geremek, Poverty, 73-76, 100-102; idem, The Margins of Society, 30-31; and Brian Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: The Social Institutions of a Catholic State to 1620 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), 198, 200, 636-37. In 1300, the Grand Council of Venice decreed that paupers were not to wander the street begging, but instead were to be put into shelters. Street people like prostitutes, swindlers, and ruffians were liable to a public whipping; Florence in 1294 expelled poor, blind beggars from the city (Henderson , Piety and Charity in Florence , 244). Geremek's argument that restrictions on the nonresident poor and on begging originated in southern German cities in the fourteenth century would seem to be an overstatement, given the parallel practices in France and Barcelona; see his Poverty, 46-47.

13. Téresa-Maria Vinyoles i Vidal, La vida quotidiana a Barcelona vers 1400 (Barcelona, 1985), 119.

14. Josefina Mutgé Vives, La ciudad de Barcelona durante el reinado de Alfonso el Benigno (1327-1336) (Barcelona, 1987), 317; Martín, "La pobreza y los pobres," 618-19.

15. Guillermo Aramayona Alonso, "El cuaderno de 1421 de «El Bací dels Pobres Vergonyants» de la parroquia de Santa María del Mar, de Barcelona," in La pobreza, 2:175; Richard C. Trexler, "Charity and the Defense of Urban Elites in the Italian Communes," in The Rich, the Well-Born and the Powerful: Elites and Upper Classes in History, ed. Frederic Cople Jaher (Urbana, Ill., 1973), 75; Giovanni Ricci, "Naissance du pauvre honteux: Entre l'histoire des idées et l'histoire sociale," Annales: économies, sociétés, civilisations 38 (1983):168-69; Geremek, Poverty, 40. This distinction survives into the twentieth century, as witnessed by Provident Loan Society, a pawnshop founded for the worthy poor that still operates in New York City. See New York Times, March 14, 1993, 19.

16. Berenguer Borell, for example, was the brother and executor of a Barcelonan who in traditional fashion left the residue of his estate to Christ's poor. Berenguer successfully sought permission from the bishop's court to use this money to pay his own educational expenses. In another case, the court allowed one hundred sous to Guillem ça Tria of Vilafranca from the estate of his sister-in-law who had left money to dower unmarried girls so that he could dower his own two daughters. See Kristine Utterback, Pastoral Care and Administration in Mid-fourteenth Century Barcelona: Exercising the "Art of Arts" (Lewiston, N.Y., 1993), 180-81; and Robert I. Burns, S.J., The Crusader Kingdom of Valencia: Reconstruction on a Thirteenth-Century Frontier (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), 1:246-47.

17. The Doctrina Compendiosa, an anonymous treatise of the early fifteenth century, argues that God will not only glorify individuals who give alms, but increase their earthly goods while diminishing those of individuals who do not practice charity. See Martín, "La pobreza y los pobres," 596; and Geremek, Poverty, 48. Speaking of King Alfonso VIII's foundation of the Hospital del Rey in Burgos, Ximénez de Rada states: "To such an extent that the works of piety in that same hospital could be contemplated by anyone as if in a mirror, and [he] who in life merited universal praise for his excellent works, because of the multiplication of [his] intercessors, would deserve to be crowned by God after his death." See his Historia de rebus Hispanie sive Historia Gothica, ed. Juan Fernández Valverde (Turnhout, 1987), 7.34.10-13, 256.

18. Brian Pullan argues that it was not until the sixteenth century that charity's focus began to shift away from the devotional demands placed upon the poor, to be replaced with the goal of improving their discipline and moral behavior. See his Renaissance Venice, 635.

19. Mollat and Miri Rubin, among others, make this argument. Patricia Cullum, on the basis of her study of charity in York, disagrees; but all of these authors seem to make the unwarranted assumption that society ever looked with great kindness upon the poor. Pullan and Geremek, on the other hand, assert that poverty itself was never regarded as a virtue (only a taste for it!); to the contrary the poor were typically stigmatized as idle or dissolute. Patricia Cullum, "Hospitals and Charitable Provision in Medieval Yorkshire, 936-1547" (D. Phil. thesis, University of York, 1989), 439. Geremek, Poverty, viii, 28-29, 68. On Eiximenis, see Martín, "La pobreza y los pobres," 604.

20. Henderson argues that into the late thirteenth century Florentines continued to identify the practitioners of voluntary poverty, like monks and friars, as the pauperes Christi; it is not until after the subsistence crises of the early fourteenth century that Florentine society became interested in helping the lay poor, and especially the poor family. He notes that in 1324 the Orsanmichele confraternity conferred 94 percent of its alms on the urban poor, 4 percent on beggars and only 2 percent on pious institutions; see his Piety and Charity, 252-54. For a discussion of the fourteenth-century economic crisis, the persistence of unemployment, and the efforts to restrict wage demands, see Geremek, Poverty, 78-90, 100-14.

21. See Pullan's " 'Support and Redeem': Charity and Poor Relief in Italian Cities from the Fourteenth to the Seventeenth Century," in Brian Pullan, Poverty and Charity: Europe, Italy, Venice, 1400-1700 (Aldershot, England, 1994), 5: 181.

22. Geremek, Poverty, 26; Tierney, Medieval Poor Law, 55-56, 68.

23. Theorists of the nineteenth century attempted to distinguish between Catholic and Protestant approaches to charity. The former was said to focus upon religious merit for the giver, and thus to be indiscriminate and lack any incentive to end poverty. The latter is said to have produced a rational and secular system of poor relief designed to reduce poverty and to improve society. Still others have argued that charity, with a focus on care, is a medieval phenomenon, while welfare, which aims at cure, is a modern idea. For a discussion, see Pullan, Renaissance Venice, 11-12; Jonathan Barry and Colin Jones, Introduction to Medicine and Charity before the Welfare State, ed. Jonathan Barry and Colin Jones ( London, 1991), 1-3.