Rural History 2015

Panel 18

Organizers: Marfany, Julie (1); Lambrecht, Thijs (2); Winter, Anne (3); Van Onacker, Eline (4); Masure, Hadewijch (4); Maffi, Luciano (5)

Affiliation: 1: University of Durham, United Kingdom; 2: University of Ghent, Belgium; 3: Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Belgium; 4: University of Antwerp, Belgium; 5: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Italy

The provision of poor relief in rural Europe

Outside of England, the provision of poor relief in the countryside in the past is a neglected topic, in part due to the assumption that it was minimal compared to the provision of relief by large urban institutions and in part because of a lack of evidence. Formalised relief is seen by Kate Lynch and others as requiring the presence of urban elites and the growing anonymity of cities. Nonetheless, those historians who have studied rural poor relief have shown that many types of assistance were available for the poor, such as local hospitals, bread doles, dowry funds, other endowed charities, confraternities and almsgiving of different kinds. By and large, these forms of charity were private, though sometimes administered by public bodies, which in turn sometimes, as in the case of the Low Countries, sought to co-ordinate these different forms of charity within a single parish or community. What has largely not been addressed for anywhere in Europe is the role and significance of such charities. Were funds adequate enough to provide relief in any systematic and sustained fashion? How well did such charities cope with crisis episodes throughout the early modern period and rising prices in the eighteenth century? What contribution could they make to the household ‘economy of makeshifts’? How did poor relief change over time? This panel seeks to address these questions and others through a set of papers comparing poor relief practices in different areas of rural Europe between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. In particular, the papers contrast northern Europe (the Low Countries) with southern Europe (northern Italy and Catalonia), building on the work of previous comparative sessions at Rural History 2013, though with new contributions.



Paper 1: Subsistence crises and poor relief in rural (and urban) communities in the sixteenth-century Low Countries [+]

Eline Van Onacker, University of Antwerp and Hadewijch Masure, Belgium

Paper 2: Intermediate bodies and social support networks in Italy in the modern age: the system of giving in Voghera in the 18th century [+]

Luciano Maffi, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milano, Italy

Paper 3: Charity, poor relief and economic change in the Southern Low Countries: the rural district of Furnes, c. 1680-c.1770.

Thijs Lambrecht, Ghent University, Belgium; Nick Van den Broeck, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Belgium

Paper 4: The extent and nature of poor relief in Catalonia, c.1550-1820 [+]

Julie Marfany, Durham University, UK


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015