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Apeuro DBQ on the Poor

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1368
  • Category: Poverty

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The Europeans between the 1450’s and 1700’s held many negative attitudes towards the poor themselves and the idlers who they believed were a menace to society. Also during this time period the Europeans had many responses like in England where they put them in poorhouses or tried to heal them or in others places where they tried to give them alms. During this time period many Europeans held negative attitudes toward helping the poor due to the idle and lazy who go around begging as if they are poor. Emperor Charles V in a royal decree wrote how indiscriminately giving alms will result in idleness which is the root of all evils (Document 4). Emperor Charles V has the POV of an emperor who sees that the idle are mooching off of his people and are taking away money from those who really are poor and can’t find jobs. He believes that these idle people left their occupations and have began to beg and sell their daughters to vice instead of going into honest work because they see how easy it is to beg for money. In France, the town council of Rouen had so much distaste for the idle that they were planning to expel them from the city due to their harmfulness to the general public (Document 5).

The council of Rouen’s POV is that of the leaders of the town that see the idle are hurting the honest laborers who actually work for their money and don’t go around begging for money while actually having the ability to do work because the idles are taking advantage of the honest worker’s kindness. Cardinal Richelieu who was a royal councilor is unofficially stated as saying that he believed that due to the vagabonds begging for alms, they are taking bread from the deserving poor and he believes that rules should be established which would confine and feed the poor and make the able bodied do public works (Document 8). The of POV of Cardinal Richelieu is that of a high church official who sees the idle are taking from the deserving poor and that the government needs to find a way to help the poor while making the idlers work on public work protects which would keep the poor off the streets, and it would employ the good-for-nothings who are mooching off everyone. Many European felt that idlers were mooching off them and taking away alms from the poor who actually couldn’t get jobs due to illness causing a distaste of them by the Europeans. Even though many Europeans saw only the idlers as the problems, many others had negative attitudes to all poor people.

Juan Luis Vives who was a Spanish humanist wrote in, On Assistance to the Poor, that when a family becomes poor that the men begin to steal, the women become prostitutes, and their children grow up and become accustomed to this lifestyle while those with money believe the poor to not deserve their alms (Document 3). The POV of Vives is that of a humanist who feels they know the deeper meaning of all human, and he sees them as deplorable creatures who when pushed against a wall become thieving animals while those with money don’t even try to better these poor peoples’ lives by thinking that the poor don’t deserve their charity. Jean Maillefer, a wealthy French merchant, wrote to his children that the poor have grown accustom to being poor and they cannot leave due to them having no cares, bills, and fears while they feel great independence (Document 11). Maillefer’s POV is that the poor have no worries and are independent because they have no job which comes from him hearing them talk about and also from how he works long and hard every day while fearing that he has to pay rent and taxes and has to care for his family. During a sermon, a French Catholic Priest spoke how giving alms while you are sick or after your death means nothing (Document 1).

The POV of the priest is that he believes that giving to the poor isn’t necessary if you are sick or dead because in his eyes, since you are dead it no longer holds any value to anyone else even the poor. Many Europeans felt that the poor were a menace to society ad didn’t deserve any help from other people. Even with the many negative views on the poor, many Europeans still wanted to help the poor who actually deserved it. In Dijon, France due to the poor shrieking throughout the night, the town council decided to rent a place for the poor to stay for future nights (Document 2). The POV of the town council is that of the leaders who see that they no longer want the poor roaming the city so they decided to rent somewhere for the poor to sleep since they have become an annoyance to the general public, but they still are going to treat the poor as well as they can. This Rembrandt sketch shows an older man giving to a poor family, who looks very dirty, some alms out of the kindness of his heart (Document 9). The POV of Rembrandt van Rijn is that those that have a good amount should help those who are in need of alms which is what is portrayed as a man who has a house gives alms to a family who looks like they don’t have one.

Vincent de Paul who was a Catholic priest who founded a religious order that helped the poor said that they need to help the poor not only spiritually, but also their temporal needs like food and water (Document 10). The POV of Vincent de Paul is that of a priest who cares for all and believes that his religious order needs to help the poor’s secular needs through alms-giving since that is what they need the most and says, to entice the people of his order, that bishops became saints due to their alms-giving which shows what lengths he will good to so that he can rally his followers to help the poor. These Europeans have shown even though many of them have a distaste for the poor due to the good-for-nothings that they still believe in the practice of alms-giving and helping the poor by housing and feeding them. During this time period, the English tried to respond to the poor by trying to reform them. William Tucker who was an English doctor, and he instead of giving alms (money or food) to the sick poor, offered to heal them (Document 6). He did this due to his POV that if you were to be healed of your disease then you could go and find work instead of going around begging which to his distaste they had become accustom to instead of trying to be reformed.

The British government set up poorhouses which used force and starvation to reform the poor (Document 7). The English government POV in these regulations showed that they believed that through hard labor and punishment that the poor would lose their idleness and be able to submit to the poorhouse master which would allow them to be able to actually go and get an honest living due to them losing their idleness. These attempts to reform the poor show the English people’s sympathy towards the poor and their responses on how to help the poor. In conclusion, the Europeans between the 1450’s and 1700’s held many negative attitudes towards the poor themselves and the idlers who they believed were a menace to society. Also during this time period the Europeans had many responses like in England where they put them in poorhouses or tried to heal them or in others places where they tried to give them alms. Some of the Europeans saw the poor as idle moochers who were a menace to society and the poor who actually deserved alms while other believed that all the poor deserved alms out of the kindness of their heart which was the English tried to do through trying to reform the poor.

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