Charitable Institutions

Timothy Miller

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Charitable Institutions

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During the Byzantine Era, a network of philanthropic institutions offered a variety of services, from sheltering travellers and homeless migrants to providing free medical care for the sick, nurturing orphans, and organizing food allotments during famines. Scholars have suggested that charitable foundations in the Byzantine Empire were too few and too small to have alleviated the sufferings of the poor, the sick, and the homeless. However, the emperor Nikephoros Phokas (963-9), thinking that the empire already had enough hospitals to meet its needs, issued a law banning the establishment of new ones. Justinian's laws indicate that there were many welfare institutions in Byzantium. In Novel cxx, Justinian identified the philanthropic institutions in Constantinople and the provinces as hospices, almshouses, hospitals for the sick, and other pious houses (which were different from monasteries). Orphanages were the oldest charitable institutions in the Byzantine world.

Keywords: Byzantine Era; philanthropic institutions; Nikephoros Phokas; Byzantine Empire; charitable institutions; orphanages; hospitals; Justinian; monasteries; hospices

Article.  3706 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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