Hospitals, Almshouses, and Charity

Andrew D. Brown

in Popular Piety in Late Medieval England

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780198205210
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676550 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Hospitals, Almshouses, and Charity

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • History of Religion


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The clear links between the Trinity hospital, the St George guild, and the town government show that yet another layer should be added to the devotional structures within certain late medieval towns. However, hospitals and almshouses also raise wider issues about charitable giving. Provision for the poor was inseparable from pious expression; it was, as canonists had emphasized since the twelfth century, one of the seven works of mercy in the penitential process of making satisfaction for sin. In return, the poor were expected to pray for the souls of the benefactors in a regular regime of prayer. M. Rubin has argued that there were changes for the worse. The difficulty is knowing how far hospital foundation is a ‘sensitive indicator’ of changing attitudes to the poor, or how far it reflects other pressures. It is important to relate hospital history to that of other institutions: religious houses, parishes, and, as the Trinity hospital suggests, guilds.

Keywords: hospitals; almshouses; sin; souls; prayer; charitable giving; mercy; religious houses; guilds

Chapter.  8839 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; History of Religion

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