The Reformation of Charity

The Secular and the Religious in Early Modern Poor Relief


Early modern Europe witnessed changes in the social, political, and ecclesiastical structures supporting poor relief, but notions that sharp fault lines divide rationalized, secular poor relief from morally and spiritually motivated ecclesiastical charity need rethinking. Spiritual ideals shaped political and social poor relief structures just as much as rationalization and effective administration colored ecclesiastical charity efforts. Poor relief reflects a local community. A community’s unique history, culture, political agenda, social mores, and religious ideals converge to shape how it responds to poverty, whatever the context: religious, political, or private (the élite). Sweeping statements and broad generalizations must be placed under the lamp of local circumstances. Theory and practice must unite. These studies take seriously the richness and humanity of early modern poor relief, the danger and desperation of poverty in a community, as well as the calculation and generosity of local charity.

Contributors include: David d’Andrea, Susan E. Dinan, Nicholas Eckstein, S. Amanda Eurich, Timothy G. Fehler, Peer Friess, Philip L. Kintner, Charles H. Parker, Thomas Max Safley, Joke Spaans, Mary S. Sprunger, snd Lee Palmer Wandel.


EUR €130.00USD $161.00

Biographical Note

Thomas Max Safley, Ph.D. (1980) in History, University of Wisconsin at Madison, is associate professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published extensively on the economic and social history of early modern Europe, including Charity and Economy in the Orphanages of Early Modern Augsburg (Brill, 1987).

Review Quotes

"...this volume opens another window for historians to assess the complex relationships between the secular and sacred in the Reformation era...the essays are interesting, provocative, and accomplish what they set out to do." Lisa McClain, Sixteenth Century Journal, 2005.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Contributors Introduction, Thomas Max Safley 1. The Poverty of Christ, Lee Palmer Wandel 2. Charity and the Reformation in Italy: The Case of Treviso, David d’Andrea 3. “Con buona affetione”: Confraternities, Charity, and the Poor in Early Cinquecento Florence, Nicholas Eckstein 4. Welfare, Reformation, and Dearth at Memmingen, Philip L. Kintner 5. Poor Relief and Health Care Provision in South-German Catholic Cities during the Sixteenth Century, Peer Friess 6. Refashioning Poor Relief in Early Modern Emden, Timothy G. Fehler 7. Calvinism and Poor Relief in Reformation Holland, Charles H. Parker 8. Welfare Reform in Frisian Towns: Between Humanist Theory, Pious Imperatives, and Government Policy, Joke Spaans 9. Mennonites and Sectarian Poor Relief in Golden Age Amsterdam, Mary S. Sprunger 10. Curing Body and Soul: Health Care in Early Modern Orange, S. Amanda Eurich 11. Motivations for Charity in Early Modern France, Susan E. Dinan Conclusion, Thomas Max Safley Index


All those interested in the social and religious history of early modern Europe and the Reformation, academic institutions and libraries, advanced graduate and undergraduate students.