Forsorgsvæsen og tiggeri før 1600

Artikler

In the Middle Ages, poverty was considered a family matter and a problem that only affected the immediate surroundings, but from the 16th century it was increasingly perceived as a public matter that needed to be regulated centrally.

The welfare system in the Middle Ages

Poverty and begging were common phenomena in the Danish Middle Ages, which especially occurred among the ill, orphans, widows and the elderly. In the country, many of the peasants tried to support the members of their family as well as they could, just like the workmen and merchants in the towns joined together in guilds in order to help each other out.

In practice, the welfare of the poor was an ecclesiastical affair, just like in the rest of Europe, and therefore the Church passed on the gifts and alms donated to the poor. Illness and poverty were considered to be divine tests and it was possible to work for the redemption of one’s own soul by relieving the hardships of the poor people around you.

It was quite common for the wealthy to consider the poor in their wills – they received charity in the form of bread and beer. In many towns, charitable foundations were established with these contributions, such as the Houses of the Holy Ghost that took care of the homeless, the ill and students, while the lepers were referred to hospitals (St. George’s Houses) outside the city boundaries. Lepers who were able to move were allowed to beg in towns, but could not touch anyone.

Special kinds of beggars were the mendicant friars. They belonged to religious orders such as the Franciscan, Dominican and Carmelite orders, which had renounced all property and regular income. Instead, their economy depended on the monks’ work and outside contributions. From the 13th century onwards, mendicant friar monasteries were established in several of the larger Danish towns, where the poor and the ill could get help and care.

Welfare after 1500

After the year 1500 the view on the poor changed, and welfare was increasingly considered a matter of society. In Denmark, as well as in the rest of Europe, people began to distinguish between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. Thus, in 1522 Christian II decided it should be forbidden for the able-bodied to beg for alms. If they did not agree to work for their living, they were to be expelled from the towns. Only the poor, who were ill, handicapped or otherwise unable to work, would be allowed to beg in the towns. The beggars should be approved by the town government which would issue marks for the beggars to be worn visibly before they were allowed to take alms from their fellow citizens.

As a result of the increase of population in the latter half of the 16th century, the number of poor people increased considerably. This led to further tightening in legislation, such as King Frederik II’s statutory instrument regarding beggars from 1587. Vagabonds and vagrants were more and more considered suspicious and shady, and from the end of the 16th century they were even ordered to be captured and perform hard labour.

Om artiklen

Forfatter(e)
Stefan Pajung
Tidsafgrænsning
1050 - 1600
Medietype
Tekst
Sidst redigeret
27. september 2011
Sprog
Dansk
Litteratur

Henningsen, Peter: ”Misericordia. Tiggere, husarme og andre fattige i København, 1500-1800”, i Historiske meddelelser om København, 98 (2005).

Jensen, Carsten Selch: Byerne og de fattige, i Middelalderbyen (2004).

Mikkelsen, Jørgen: “Poor relief in provincial towns in the Kingdom of Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig, ca. 1700-1850”, i Danish Towns during Absolutism (2008).

Skyum-Nielsen, Niels: Kvinde og Slave (1971).

Skyum-Nielsen, Niels: Fruer og vildmænd (1994).

Petersen, Jørn Henrik m.fl. (red.): Dansk velfærdshistorie, bd. 1 (2010).

Udgiver
danmarkshistorien.dk

Relateret indhold

Om artiklen

Forfatter(e)
Stefan Pajung
Tidsafgrænsning
1050 - 1600
Medietype
Tekst
Sidst redigeret
27. september 2011
Sprog
Dansk
Litteratur

Henningsen, Peter: ”Misericordia. Tiggere, husarme og andre fattige i København, 1500-1800”, i Historiske meddelelser om København, 98 (2005).

Jensen, Carsten Selch: Byerne og de fattige, i Middelalderbyen (2004).

Mikkelsen, Jørgen: “Poor relief in provincial towns in the Kingdom of Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig, ca. 1700-1850”, i Danish Towns during Absolutism (2008).

Skyum-Nielsen, Niels: Kvinde og Slave (1971).

Skyum-Nielsen, Niels: Fruer og vildmænd (1994).

Petersen, Jørn Henrik m.fl. (red.): Dansk velfærdshistorie, bd. 1 (2010).

Udgiver
danmarkshistorien.dk