Crime and Society in Early Modern Seville

Mary Elisabeth Perry


Beggars and Benefactors

[163] In 1639 the administrator of Seville's orphanage for girls petitioned the city council to prohibit voluntary mendicity. All poor people, he declared, should be required to register before city deputies so that the "truly poor" could be differentiated from those who could work but instead "go about in little bands, running through the city, and taking alms from the truly poor who cannot work." (1)

The problem of determining who should receive charity was not a new development in the seventeenth century, but it became more critical as the wealth of the city declined in this period. Benefactors who continued their traditional generosity were unable to satisfy all the demands for charity. The Crown took an active interest in new charitable programs, and the city government became a major benefactor. Charity continued as a response to human need, but increasingly it became a political tool. In early modern Seville, it ran headlong into the idle vagrants and false beggars of the underworld.

Charity in this city has been described in literature and written documents, but even more vividly in the paintings of Bartolomé Murillo. Born in Seville in 1617, he was orphaned by the time he was ten years old. (2) He left his apprenticeship with a local artist [164] and went to work painting coarse, popular pictures to sell on the street of the Feria. Here among many other street-artists and street-hawkers, he saw the poorest people of the city. Murillo first became famous when the monks of the local Franciscan monastery commissioned eleven paintings. Later the wealthy Miguel de Mañara commissioned Murillo to paint eleven paintings for the church of the Hospital de Santa Caridad. By the middle of the century, he was wealthy and famous enough to marry a rich noble woman.

Murillo had seen his city on the streets of the Feria, in a wealthy monastery, in a gorgeously decorated charitable institution, and from the salons of the city's leading citizens. He saw charity as a noble, pious gesture, evident in his painting of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. However, the diseased head of the small boy that she is healing in this painting is so realistic in detail that it is almost repulsive. If charity was noble and pious, it was also concerned with real people who suffered hideously. Murillo supported the social order in which he had won so much wealth and fame, but he was also aware of its imperfections. While he depicted charity as individual efforts to bring human society closer to God's perfection, he recognized that charity to many was simply a question of survival. His paintings, together with written archival sources, present memorable portraits of receivers, benefactors, and the uses of charity in early modern Seville.


Several children crowd around the monk in Murillo's painting "La Sopa Boba." Orphans and abandoned children were by tradition the largest group who received charity. Unwanted infants often died, but others were taken to a house next to the Cathedral, where they could be received for care when they were placed anonymously in a revolving window. The Church established a perpetual fund to care for 140 foundlings each year. On the feast of the Annunciation, Cathedral clerics led a solemn procession of the foundlings carried by their nurses. Many found adoptive parents in this way, but some orphaned babies [165] were not adopted and were sent to the city orphanages sheltering older children. (3)

The brotherhood of Santo Niño Perdido was founded in 1589 to care for older children abandoned in the city. Brothers walked through the streets at night and took any abandoned children they found to their house where they gave them food and shelter. When they saw adults begging with children, they took the children away from them "so they wouldn't be beggars all their lives and could be placed with masters." (4) Some children were sent out to beg by the parents, and others were used by professional beggars, who found that ragged or sickly appearing children greatly improved their pitch. Sometimes these small beggars were completely on their own. In 1593 the city council heard that city streets and plazas were "full of small boys who wander about lost and begging and dying of hunger and sleep in doorways and on stone benches by the walls, poorly dressed, almost nude, and exposed to many dangers . . . and others have died of freezing by dawn." (5) Whether abandoned, orphaned, or in the care of a professional beggar or thief, the plight of these children was pitiful.

By 1580 city archives recorded pleas for charity from many adults. These grew in the seventeenth century as Seville suffered from a decline in trade, a devastating epidemic, and repeated monetary devaluations. (6) Old people who had no income and no one to care for them were another large group of people dependent on the "sopa boba." Some were cared for in hospitales, but [168] many others turned to begging. A registry of people licensed to beg in Seville in 1675 shows that 69 percent were sixty years old or older, and 84 percent were fifty years or older. The age distribution in Figure 11 suggests that licensed begging in Seville was an old-age occupation. (7)

Disabled people of all ages formed another group who received charity. The registry of 231 people licensed to beg in 1675 includes a description of the afflictions of most of these people. Some of the descriptions are too general to be helpful, but the registry does suggest the most common problems:

Affliction                                        Number

Crippled                                             74
Blindness                                            42
Urinary illness                                     13
Gout                                                    9
Asthma                                                6
Palsy                                                    5

Mental illness seldom brought with it a license to beg. Mentally retarded adults were treated as dependent children, some of them free to support themselves as beggars and others confined and cared for in the common houses that were popularly known as casas de locos. Mentally ill people were less likely to receive charity. Even though a few seventeenth-century thinkers argued that mental disorders should be treated as illness, many regarded deranged people as cursed. The madman whose family could not care for him was often run out of town, an outcast, whose exile strengthened a sense of solidarity in the community and also relieved it from supporting him through charity. (8)

[170] Women without husbands frequently received charity. A 1667 survey of the poor in Seville listed 261 female household heads and only thirteen male household heads in the parish of the Cathedral. (9) Typical of the male heads was Pedro de Campo, who had a wife and seven children still at home, and was so ill that he had been unable to work. Many of the female household heads were listed as widows, and many others were listed as having husbands who were "captive," "in the Indies," or simply "absent." Noticeably absent from "La Sopa Boba" were young, able-bodied men.

The 1667 survey suggests that the women considered deserving of charity came from respectable families as well as poor ones. The list for the parish of the Cathedral, for example, includes the sister of a former admiral, "noble and very poor." Women in the survey were frequently listed as gente principal (people of note). They appeared on the lists because they were poor, had no means of support, and shared an intangible quality that placed them among the "honorable poor." One term used very frequently in the lists is pobre de solenidad, a suggestion that these people lived seriously and soberly. Compare this term with the marginal comment that one priest wrote after he crossed off the name of Laura de Esquibel and her household no sirben a Dios (they don't serve God).

Prisoners were considered worthy of charity, not because they were honorable, but because they were often poor and helpless. The 1667 survey for the parish of Triana listed Maria Josepha, who had been forced to sell everything, even her husband's sickbed, in order to pay off the debt for which he had [171] been imprisoned. Lucky prisoners received money to buy food or pay off the debts that had sent them to prison. The unlucky ones got a burial ground directly under a gallows, their corpses protected from dogs and scavengers by members of a pious fraternity, the Hermandad de Santa Caridad.

Many people who received charity in Seville were transients or immigrants. Of the 231 entries in the 1675 registry of beggars, 137 came from outside the province of Seville. A sixteenth-century chronicler of the city explained that there were many charitable houses in Seville because of "the excessive number of poor who enter the city each day, almost from every part of the world." (10) Another contemporary grumbled that two thirds of the people who were supported by charity in Seville were foreigners who didn't want to spend the money they had earned in Spain. (11) Soldiers and sailors in the royal service demanded preference over other people seeking help from city charity, and galley slaves who were sick or hungry or in spiritual need also received charity when they landed in Seville. (12)

Benefactors tried to distinguish deserving recipients from dishonorable rogues, but the line between underworld and legitimate charity was neither sharp nor stationary. City fathers identified the deserving poor as those unable to work, as opposed to those unwilling to do so. Priests who took the 1667 survey added a distinction between those who were willing to go to Mass and those who were not. Poor people sometimes defined themselves as the victims of underworld thieves who went through their neighborhoods stripping poor houses even of their mean pallets. (13) Underworld people undoubtedly identified themselves as those clever enough to exploit the best deal in town, whether a soup line or a street theft. Belonging to the underworld subculture was not always a fulltime occupation, however, and it could be [172] combined with legitimate occupations, such as street-hawking and unloading ships. City fathers tried to use the underworld as a foil against which to define the deserving poor, but underworld people were too mobile and crafty to be placed in a single category where they could not feed on their host.


The Church, religious groups, pious individuals, and the city government had traditionally acted as charitable benefactors in Seville. As the need for charity increased in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, these benefactors found their traditional forms inappropriate or ineffective. Indiscriminate handouts to all beggars were no longer possible as their numbers increased. Small hospitales for fifteen or twenty poor supported by the begging of a few monks became less effective in meeting the city's growing need for charity. As benefactors tried to limit their charity to the deserving poor, they also changed their strategies for giving.

The hospital, a common house providing charity, underwent several changes in the late sixteenth century. When Fernando III first conquered Seville from the Moors in 1248, he had directed each parish of the city to establish a hospital to care for its poor, sick, abandoned, and disabled people. By 1586 the city had outgrown this parish system of charity and boasted more than 100 hospitales. Most were very small and specialized, such as the Hospital del Rey, which was founded to care for twelve old people who were poor but of noble status. (14) The financial base for most of these small institutions dwindled in the sixteenth century at the same time that demands for charity increased. Dependent upon the alms that their inmates or a few monks begged in the streets, the hospitales took in fewer people and provided less care as the numbers of beggars increased. Underworld people recognized the declining quality of hospitales, sardonically using the same word coto for both a hospital and a cemetery. (15)

[173] One solution to the proliferation of inadequately endowed hospitales was to consolidate them into a few larger institutions that could be more effectively and efficiently administered. When the Church and Cardinal Archbishop Rodrigo de Castro proposed consolidation, Philip II supported them against local opposition. Residents of one street opposed the plan because it would bring all contagiously ill people to the Hospital de los Desamparados in their neighborhood. Other opponents pointed out that when one hospital, the Hermita de Santas Justina y Rufina, had complied with reduction orders, it had been rented out as a tavern "where much dishonesty has occurred." (16) Despite these arguments, the Cardinal Archbishop reported in March 1587 a list of 77 hospitales that he had, complying with the king's direction, reduced to two. Hospitales again mushroomed, but they were never again as many as there had been in the mid-sixteenth century. One list reported 24 hospitales in Seville in 1673. (17) Hospital consolidation changed charity into a centrally controlled, more efficiently administered strategy for confining the poor.

Accompanying the changing pattern of hospitales was a change in charitable bequests. Before the end of the sixteenth century, the wills of many wealthy people contributed to charity by endowing a small hospital or paying money to monasteries and churches for singing designated Masses. Giving alms to the poor at the funeral fulfilled pious requirements for charity and also ensured a large crowd at the funeral procession. It reflected a rather primitive belief that giving a gift could ward off the threat of death or damnation, as well as the traditional Catholic belief that good works could purchase the repose of a dead person's soul. (18)

[174] A comparison of the charitable bequests of two of the wealthiest men of the city suggests the changing patterns of giving between the early sixteenth and late seventeenth century. Don Fadrique Enriquez de Ribera, Marquis of Tarifa, died in 1539. Among other things, his will provided for 2278 different Masses to be sung in 27 parish churches, eight monasteries, three convents, one hermitage, and one hospital. Directing a payment of between two and seven reales for each Mass, his will distributed thousands of reales to many different religious foundations in the city. (19)

When Miguel de Mañara died in 1679, his will expressly forbade spending money on a pompous funeral because he wanted to leave his money to the poor. (20) He left all his wealth, except for small amounts given to long-time servants, to the Hospital de la Santa Caridad, a very large charitable institution that he had built for the city. The chapel of this hospital was a treasury of paintings, frescos, and sculpture by some of Seville's most famous artists. It was a fitting monument to a citizen who was as famous for his charity as for his wealth. Instead of distributing smaller amounts to paupers at his funeral or to many churches and religious orders as payment for Masses, Mañara concentrated his bequest on one large institution that has continued to preserve a treasury of art and to confine and care for many poor people up to the present day.

Michel Vovelle, who recently completed a monumental study of the attitudes toward death that were revealed in some 19,000 [175] wills, found a similar pattern of change in eighteenth-century Provence. (21) Wills progressively called for fewer Masses, less ostentatious funerals, and charity given only to the poor confined in hospitales. He concluded that these changes were part of a larger pattern of secularization in the eighteenth century.

Miguel de Mañara, whose will demanded a simple funeral and restricted all charity to the Hospital de la Santa Caridad, might seem to be a seventeenth-century forerunner of modern secularization. However, he was a very devout man who certainly did not consciously promote secularization. His desire for a simple funeral stemmed from his great feeling of unworthiness before God. He directed that a verse be written over the place where he was buried in the floor of the church: "Here lie the remains of the worst man that has ever lived. Pray to God for him." (22) He restricted charity to one institution because he believed that charity was best administered through large, well-controlled institutions for confining the poor. His will suggests that the changing patterns of charity in the seventeenth century still wore the garb of piety and effected changes in wills even before eighteenth-century secularization.

Religious orders and fraternities continued to channel money to charity. The Counter Reformation reforms tried to curb the proliferation of inadequately endowed religious groups, but the numbers of cofradías (religious fraternities) increased in this period. Unlike the scuole grandi of Renaissance Venice, these fraternities usually did not distribute charity among their own members. (23) Instead, they were small groups that gave to less fortunate people - a useful way to establish position as notables of the city.

It is cynical to suggest, however, that the numbers of religious fraternities increased simply because socially ambitious merchants needed ladders for social climbing. Some religious [176] fraternities had been founded by pious men who performed genuine acts of humility and compassion, such as burying the bodies of executed criminals. Some had been established to preserve and venerate religious images, and their rites of devotion included charity.

While charity continued to be a concern of some religious fraternities, social identification appeared to be the primary interest of many others. The Negroes who had been Christianized formed a religious fraternity that was noted for its devotion to the Holy Virgin. Rather poor, they each contributed what they could to a fiesta honoring the Immaculate Conception in 1653. When they fell 200 ducats short of the necessary amount, one free Negro pawned his liberty to raise the money. Some twenty years later this same fraternity presented a mummery that was recorded as the most "deserving" of the celebrations honoring the majority of Carlos II. (24)

Some religious fraternities founded in the early modern period were social extensions of occupational groups. Although royal policies deliberately opposed a strong guild system and expressly prohibited guilds from having religious fraternities, cofradías seemed to rise informally among some occupational groups. The report of a religious festival in 1579, for example, described two cofradías from Triana that were composed of "people of the sea." (25) Social functions undoubtedly received more emphasis than charity in these religious fraternities.

By tradition, the Church had been a major benefactor in Seville. The Archbishopric of Seville was wealthy enough to feed many of the hungry, and it distributed food to them in the surrounding countryside as well. During a famine in 1636 it distributed 1000 reales in bread each day for 100 days. (26) Nevertheless, it could not sustain all the charity needed in Seville. In the late sixteenth century the administrator of the Hospital del Cardenal petitioned the city council for wheat and said the only [177] other alternative was to discharge the poor from the hospital and close its doors. The city government became patron to several hospitales; it contributed 96,201 marvedís annually to the Hospital del Rey. (27)

The city council was undoubtedly responding to the greater need for charity when it increased its contributions, but it was also responding to a royal interest in charity. Realizing that charity was so vital to political order that it could not be left to the caprice of local communities, the Crown ordered the city government to give 20,000 maravedís to relieve the financial plight of the Hospital del Amor de Dios in 1542. (28) From the Crown came directives about controlling and sheltering beggars, providing food for the poor in time of dearth, establishing schools and orphanages, and confining diseased people in hospitales. Philip II's interference in the controversy over hospital reduction in Seville was not an isolated case of meddling in local affairs, but part of a larger pattern of royal concern with charity.

Schools and orphanages increased in relative importance as charitable institutions in the sixteenth century. This reflected not only the increased number of abandoned children, but also a Humanist belief that a good society depended upon educating all children to be useful, upright citizens. In the Patio de los Naranjos outside the Cathedral a school taught writing and reading to acolytes and other poor boys of the parish. A religious fraternity paid the salary for the teacher of this school, and a local bookseller offered to provide primers so that poor children could attend. (29)

The city government became a significant contributor to [178] charity schools as expenses rose above the contributions of Church, religious groups, and individual benefactors. In 1545 the city was asked to pay the salaries for two teachers and provide a house for a charity school. Soon after it began paying teachers' salaries, the city government insisted that it should license teachers. In 1561 the jurados of the city council pointed out the importance of licensing teachers who were competent and "of good life and custom." (30) As the city council became patron to several charitable schools, it gradually extended its control over them. (31)

City government, Church, religious fraternities, and pious individuals gave large sums for charity, but they were never able to satisfy all the demands. What happened to the poor people who were not considered deserving of charity? Who cared for homeless old people who could find no room in a hospital? How did the hundreds of street children survive when orphanages could not feed them? One answer is that the underworld devised its own charitable strategies.

Juvenile begging was one of the most common of these methods for survival. Since children were able to escape the prohibitions against unlicensed begging, they were sent out to beg by surrogate parents who provided them with food and shelter and some supervision in return for the alms they took in. Most children were successful beggars only in their younger years, for people gave more to the smallest ragged urchin holding out a dirty hand.

Criminal apprenticeship, another underworld device, afforded practical training and socialization into the underworld organizations. Aimed primarily at older unattached children, it also used little boys who could slip through small openings and open doors from the inside for the thieves known as fulidores. (32) Young girls were usually trained in the art and commerce of prostitution. [179] In Quevedo's El Buscón, the picaro described how his landlady taught girls to be prostitutes, "how to pluck a man and what sort of things to say to him. She taught them how to get jewels... She showed them how to ask for cash and how to get necklaces and rings." (33)

Underworld people used children to "run errands." This often provided opportunities for thefts or casing likely houses for thefts. Girls went out on the streets "on errands" to procure customers for older prostitutes. An adminstrator of a girls' orphanage in the seventeenth century requested the city to prohibit young girls from being sent out on errands because this was the major cause of "lost women" (prostitutes). (34) Lost or not, a young girl learning prostitution brought in money for her underworld confederates. To these people, prostitution made far more practical sense than paying a dowry to young girls.

Finally, the underworld helped to care for elderly people. Cervantes' Monipodio had recognized the usefulness of older people in performing certain jobs for his criminal organization. Called "hornets," these older men cased houses by day to determine the ones that could be most easily broken into by night. They also followed people who withdrew money from the Contractión (businessmen's exchange) or mint so they would know where they were keeping the money. (35) The division of labor in underworld organizations could easily capitalize on the expertise of old thieves who were perhaps slower in their reflexes but wise in the ways of crime.

Underworld charity, then, was as selective in its own way as the charity of the city. While city benefactors helped only the deserving poor, underworld charity helped only the exploitable poor. The underworld created alternatives to city charity and helped to complement it, but it intentionally provided very little for people who were so disabled or weak that they could play no useful role in underworld occupations.


There is no doubt that much of the charity of Seville was motivated by a deep compassion and sincere religious feeling, such as that depicted in Munillo's painting of Saint Thomas of Villanueva healing a cripple. Many people gave to charity hoping to purchase a heavenly reward for their own souls. Others performed charitable deeds as penance or as an act of devotion. Charity continued in the early modern period as a gesture of human compassion and spiritual concern, but it also increasingly became a very practical tool for both the dominant culture of the city and the underworld subculture.

The city oligarchy used charity as a defensive strategy. It used hospitales to enclose and separate the poor and disabled who, in a crowd, seemed very threatening. Hospitales helped to remove from the public eye those unfortunates who could dismay upright citizens and provoke embarrassing questions. Enclosure and removal was an effective way to neutralize the potentially subversive idea that something must be wrong with the existing system if it produced so many people wandering about with neither job nor family. It also served to isolate the infection of poverty and disability.

City officials used charity as a defensive strategy against uncontrolled and unschooled children. Stubborn juveniles who refused the shelter and masters provided by the Cofradía del Santisimo Niño Perdido were forced by the authority of the asistente to accept this charity. City fathers feared that homeless children grew up to be criminals, and they asserted that there were fewer thieves when schools were available for them. (36)

Fearful of the flood of vagrants in sixteenth-century Seville, the city government had decided to license beggars in 1597. Public announcers called out all over the city that the poor and unemployed should go to the field next to the Hospital de la [182] Sangre. (37) More than 2,000 people filled the field, a hubbub of old people, cripples, healthy vagrants, men, women, and children. A procession of city council members, royal justices and the asistente, medical doctors, and scribes arrived. They entered a room in the hospital and then directed the poor to enter to be examined, one by one. The incurably ill were ordered to a hospital, the able-bodied were ordered to go to work, and the disabled and very old were given a license to beg, a small placard with white ribbons. People without these placards were prohibited from begging and would be whipped and exiled if they were caught. Licensed begging continued in Seville throughout the early modern period with periodic examinations and registration.

The city oligarchy found many advantages in licensing beggars. They were better able to control vagrancy and ensure public order. They could force able-bodied people to work, providing a larger pool of labor that could keep wages low. Periodic inspections helped the city to control epidemics and confine ill people in hospitales. At the same time, this procedure took a middle position in the controversy over whether poor people should be confined or be free to beg for their bread. Finally, it emphasized the power and the authority of the city oligarchy to determine who should receive charity - literally, a matter of life and death to many people.

Dowries were a defensive strategy against uncontrolled youth. According to the Spanish code of law, one reason for marriage was "to avoid quarrels, homicides, insolence, violence, and many other wrongful acts that would take place on account of women if marriage did not exist." (38) This view of marriage as social control reflected the commonly held belief that social order depended upon subjecting women to the authority of husbands. It also reflected a belief that young girls who had reached puberty were especially dangerous to social order. A seventeenth-century medical writer warned,

[183] It is of the same significance in these animals when they conceive eggs, as it is in young women when their uterus grows hot, their menses flow, and their bosoms swell - in a word, when they become marriageable; and who, if they continue too long unwedded, are seized with serious symptoms - hysterics, furor uterinus, etc., or fall into a cachetic state, and distemperatures of various kinds. All animals indeed, grow savage when in heat, and unless they are suffered to enjoy one another, become changed in disposition. In like manner women occasionally become insane through ungratified desire, and to such a height does the malady reach in some, that they are believed to be poisoned, or moonstruck, or possessed by a devil. (39)
Marriage or the convent seemed to be the best means to control such a potentially dangerous group. The archbishopric provided dowries so that poor young girls could enter convents, and several cofradías and wealthy individuals contributed dowries so that poor girls could marry. Between 1666 and 1670, for example, the philanthropist Miguel de Mañara provided marriage dowries for 95 poor girls. (40) When the priests surveyed the poor of the city in 1667, they made a point of listing girls of marriageable age (doncellas) so that dowries could be given to girls like Maria Andrea, an orphan in Triana "so poor that she cannot marry." Murillo's paintings of young girls on the streets of Seville show them as pretty and robust, cheerful and calm - hardly the dangerous creatures described in the medical treatise. He also recognized, however, that earning a livelihood was a major problem for most of them. His painting "Fruit-Sellers Counting Money" emphasizes their economic vulnerability by [185] the great concentration with which the young girls study the money they have earned.

If the city oligarchy used charity as a defensive strategy, it also used it as a tool for cultural promotion. Schools for poor children were one means to impose control on them, and they also served to socialize the young into the dominant culture. Proponents of charity schools argued for the need to rescue children, like those in Munillo's painting "The Dice-Players," from lives of idleness and crime. They said that these children should be brought off the streets and placed under the discipline of an education in "all good customs." This would increase not only the spiritual health of the city, but also its temporal prosperity. (41)

Charity helped to provide the kinds of laborers that the city needed. Orphanages and foster parents taught children practical skills so that they could be useful artisans, teamsters, sailors, and domestic servants. Licensed begging forced able-bodied vagrants into the labor pool, a strategy to keep wages lower and obtain workers for the fields that had been abandoned by small producers.

The public processions that accompanied charitable events clearly demonstrated the strength of charity as a pillar of the social order. Fray Diego Calchorran, for example, thanked the city council for its support of the girls' orphanage in 1595 and promised that the girls would march in a procession from their house to the Cathedral so that everyone would know the good work of the city. (42) Poor girls who received dowries from religious fraternities also marched in a special public procession, each girl dressed in a white gown and flanked by two brothers of the cofradía. (43)

These public displays of charity reinforced the values and good reputation of the dominant culture in the city. They [187] demonstrated the power of the city oligarchy to define and support the deserving poor, while confining and punishing others. Public displays of charity also fostered among the city's poor a feeling of security that the dominant culture would take care of them. Seville's charitable system carefully distinguished between the givers and the receivers; it did not permit them to mix together, as they did in the scuole grandi of Venice. Thus charity in Seville enhanced the position of the benefactors, a lesson quickly learned by the city government as it became a more active benefactor in the early modern period.

Above all, charity was used to preserve the existing system. The Crown and city government might occasionally differ on the proper way to regulate beggars, and the orphanage administrator might disagree with clergymen about the best way to handle children. Nevertheless, all of these benefactors agreed that charity had a fundamentally conservative function. It should neither try to redistribute wealth nor change positions of power in the ruling oligarchy. (44)

Underworld people also recognized charity as a tool to protect and promote the existing system. In addition, however, they used it as a tool to exploit that system. Licensed begging, for example, ended the opportunities for some false beggars, but it merely encouraged others to use herbs, chemicals, and cleverly applied tourniquets to simulate aging and physical disabilities. Surveys of "deserving poor" prevented some underworld people from receiving charity, but others found many ways to masquerade as the honorable poor. How was a priest to know that the reformed prostitute who appeared to him as a penitent Mary Magdalene by day often returned to her former occupation by night? Which priests could distinguish women truly destitute from those who had an exploiting man in the shadows and some small children borrowed to beg alms?

Children learned how to exploit charity. Clergy of the Church of San Salvador complained that after they had given food and shelter to abandoned boys in their house, these small thieves hid [188] their sacks of stolen loot behind the altar pieces of the church. (45) Using charitable homes and schools to socialize abandoned children could help to make them into good citizens, but it also provided a fine opportunity for these children to socialize one another into the society of the streets. Henry Mayhew later recognized this problem in the English Ragged Schools when he wrote, "however well intentioned such institutions may be, they are, and must be from the mere fact of bringing so many boys of vicious propensities together, productive of far more injury than benefit to the community." (46)

Even marriage dowries could misfire. Underworld men had few qualms about accepting a charitable dowry, going through a marriage ceremony, and then quietly disappearing. In 1574 two young girls of the city tried another ruse. One dressed up like a man so that they could appear as a couple entitled to the charitable dowry of 100 ducats. Unfortunately, they were discovered and sentenced to public humiliation, including 100 lashes. (47)

Underworld charity was based on the principle of exploitation. If a child were not pathetic enough to be a good beggar or quick enough to be a good thief, he received no food or shelter from underworld people. The elderly were given jobs in the underworld, but only so long as they were useful. To provide for a senile old lady out of respect for age was completely foreign to underworld charity.

Charity provided the underworld with a vehicle for cultural continuity. Young children were trained in the skills of crime and initiated into the values of the underworld by juvenile begging and criminal apprenticeship. While the Spanish Humanists called for all citizens to be given a practical, useful education, the underworld quietly and efficiently carried on its own vocational training program.

Charity was useful to both city government and underworld, but it was also an arena of conflict. City fathers often viewed [189] the underworld as a threat, and they stiffened their resolve not to support this evil culture with their alms. They used the underworld as a foil against which they struggled to define the deserving poor. Underworld people, on the other hand, frequently regarded the city oligarchy as an antagonist to be tricked and exploited. Seeing that this antagonist could extend its power through charity, the underworld resisted city efforts to swallow it up in charity schools and confine it in institutions. Underworld resistance stopped short of trying to overturn the social order, however, for the underworld saw that charity was many things. It was a gesture of piety, a touch of compassion, an agency for control, a tool of coercion, but also a first-rate opportunity.

Notes for Chapter Eight

1. AMS, Siglo XVII, Sección 4, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 24, No. 26.

2. Murillo's life is discussed in Jacques Lassaigne, Spanish Painting from Velasquez to Picasso, trans. Stuart Gilbert (Geneva, 1952). A. L. Mayer, The Work of Murillo (New York, 1913). Encyclopedia of World Art (New York, London, and Toronto, 1965), Vol. 10. Jonathan Brown, Murillo and His Drawings (Princeton, 1976).

3. Morgado, pp. 319-320, 372. He even cites one day in which 70 babies were adopted. For a more complete discussion of orphans, abandoned children, and the underworld, see below, pp. 190-211. See also Ortiz de Zuñiga, 4:499.

4. Quoted in M. Chaves, pp. 78-79.

5. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 12, No. 6.

6. For economic dislocations, see Anes Alvarez, pp. 194-195. Domínguez Ortiz, Golden Age, p. 186. Domínguez Ortiz, Orto, pp. 34-36, 84. Viñas y Mey, Problema, pp. 14, 16-29, 113-116, discusses agricultural distress. Monetary restamping and revaluation in Seville are reported in "Otros sucesos singulares," Memorias de diferentes cosas, BC, 84-7-21 esp. folios 192, 196V, 228V, 240, 253, 260V, 264. Pleas for help in the 1580's are in AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 5, No. 17, and in Tomo 11, No. 43.

7. AMS, Siglo XVII, Sección 4, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 29, No. 9. Note that of the 231 names entered in this registry, ages are given for only 213. Percentages are based on the numbers for which ages were given. Also note that these ages may be approximate and represent the age the beggar or the registrar believed the beggar to be. The only beggar registered who was under twenty years of age was sixteen-year-old Luís de Carbes of Málaga, who had a hole in the left side of his mouth, presumably a birth defect.

8. Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (New York, 1965), pp. 7, 10. For seventeenth-century opinions of madness, see Richard Hunter and Ida Macalpine, Three-Hundred Years of Psychiatry 1535-1860 (London, 1964), pp. 94-97.

9. Memoria de todas las parroquias de Sevilla y de las necesidades y pobres que habia en ellas; que pedia, el Ves D. Miguel Mañara para tener cuidado de socorrer las como lo hijo, y mientras recibo los remedios como por estas memorias parece, 1667, manuscript in HSC, Estante 4, Legajo 18. The survey does not cover all parishes, but it is remarkably detailed for those included. Taken by parish priests who were directed by Miguel de Mañara, these lists are of people whom the priests considered "honorable poor."

10. Peraza, pp. 1147.

11. Anes Alvarez, pp. 166-167.

12. AMS, Papeles Importantes, Siglo XVII, Tomo 4, No. 14. Pedro de León, Part I, chapter 9, folios 22-23.

13. For an example see the survey of the parish of the Cathedral (Santa Iglesia), which listed Maria de Santillan, who was robbed even of her bed, which was a poor uncovered mattress, in Parroquias, HSC.

14. Morgado, p. 356. His estimate may be conservative, since Ortiz de Zuñiga, 4:567-568, reports 76 hospitales in the parish of San Pedro alone.

15. Salillas, p. 280.

16. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 10, Nos. 5. 18, 19. Memorias eclesiásticas BC, 84-7-19, folio 52.

17. AMS, Papeles del Conde de Aguila, Sección Especial, Tomo 5 en folio, No. 8. AMS, Siglo XVII, Sección 4, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 11, No. 18. The two hospitals remaining in 1587 were renamed Espiritu Santo and Amor de Dios.

18. Thomas, Religion, p. 601, discusses the primitive aspects of this practice.

19. Francisco Collantes de Teran, Memorias históricas de los establecimientos de caridad de Sevilla y descripción artística de los mismos (Seville, 1884), pp. 138-139, 241-272. See also Antonio de la Banda y Vargas, "El Barrio de la Macarena," Archivo Hispalense, Series 2, 44-45 (1966), pp. 44, 48.

20. Juan de Cárdenas, Breve relación de la muerte, vida, y virtudes del venerable caballero Don Miguel Mañara Vicentelo de Leca y Caballero del Orden de Calatrava, Hermano Mayor de la Santa Caridad, 1679 (Seville, 1903), pp. 144-151. Rafael Sanchez Arráiz, "Hospital de la Santa Caridad," in Quién no vió a Sevilla, (n.d., Sevilla). At the present time the Hospital de la Santa Caridad cares for approximately 300 old men who have no family or income.

21. Michel Vovelle, Piété baroque et dechristianisation en Provence au XVIIIe siècles; Les attitudes devant la mort d'après des clauses des testaments (Paris, 1973).

22. Cárdenas, p. 147.

23. Brian Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: The Social Institutions of a Catholic State, to 1620 (Cambridge, 1971), p. 86.

24. Ortiz de Zuñiga, 4:753. Guichot y Parody, 2:293.

25. Ortiz de Zuñiga, 4:753. Guichot y Parody, 2:293. Anes Alvarez, p. 23. De Siguenza, Papeles varios, BC, 8 5-4-13.

26. Memorias eclesiásticas, BC, 84-7-19.

27. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 10, No. 14. de Sigüenza, p. 306. AMS, Papeles Importantes, Siglo XVI, Tomo 9, No. 6.

28. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 10, No. 11.

29. Juan Luís Vives, Del socorro de los pobres o de las necesidades humanes, 1526, in Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, Vol. 65 (Madrid, 1922), pp. 283-284. Astrain, 2:588, 3:201. de Castro Palacios, folio 7. Guichot y Parody, 2:314.

30. Guichot y Parody, 2:311-313.

31. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 12, No. 2; Tomo 5, No. 39; Tomo 8, No. 28. Also AMS, Archivo General, Sección 1, Carpeta 27, No. 376.

32. Salillas, pp. 113-114.

33. Quevedo, p. 195.

34. AMS, Siglo XVII, Sección 4, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 24, No. 28.

35. Cervantes, "Rinconete," p. 108.

36. Morgado, pp. 372-373. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 12, No. 3. See also the 1639 petition of Alonso Ruiz, administrator of the girls' orphanage, in Siglo XVII, Sección 4, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 24, No. 26.

37. Ariño, pp. 45-47. For the earlier laws on vagrancy, see Guichot y Parody, 1:374.

38. Fourth Partida, Titulo II, discussed in Scott, p. 886.

39. William Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, quoted in Hunter and Macalpine, p. 131.

40. Dottes que pago Nro Venerable hermo Mayor, el Sr D. Miguel Mañara en los años desde el de 1666 hasta el de 1670 a diferentes pobres para que se casasen, in HSC, Legajo 18, Estante 4. An example of dowries provided by the Archbishopric is in the survey for the parish of the Cathedral (Santa Iglesia) in Parroquias, HSC. Morgado discusses charitable dowries on p. 321.

41. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 11, No. 52.

42. AMS, Siglo XVI, Sección 3, Escribanías de Cabildo, Tomo 8, No. 21.

43. Morgado, p. 321.

44. Pullan, pp. 8, 229, points out a similar usefulness for the scuole grandi in Venice.

45. City commission report of 1593, quoted in M. Chaves, pp. 80-81.

46. Quoted in Tobias, p. 176.

47. AMS, Efemérides, No. 1.