History Essay- Between 1450 & 1700

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Between 1450 and 1700, attitudes toward the European poor changed dynamically, roughly following a three-part cycle. In the late 1400's, the poor were regarded with sympathy and compassion; generous aid from both public and religious institutions was common. By the 16th Century, however, the poor were treated with suspicion and harsh measures, to ensure that they were not becoming lazy, using welfare as a substitute for labor. Beginning in the 17th Century, the attitudes toward the poor again shifted, returning to more sympathetic views and responses, though many members of the upper-class still retained the negative outlook on the destitute of the 16th Century. In the 15th Century, growing awareness towards the plight of the destitute led many to partake in almsgiving (charitable donations to the poor). During the mid 15th century to the early 18th century almost half of Europe’s total population could be considered poor and destitute.  The attitudes of the clergy and the attitudes of the socially elite toward these people varied from pity to disgust, and their proposed solution to these problems differed. Some suggested helping all of the poor by giving them alms, some warned others to be careful of whom the money was given to and some people believed that being poor was a voluntary decision and if they wanted to get out of that situation, they do so without the help of others. In particular the clergy supported alms giving, government officials and the nobility advocated controlled giving, and some of the middle class were suspicious and judgmental and wanted the poor to work.   Many of the clergy practiced the giving of alms, for this type of behavior was encouraged by the Bible. During the 15th century, priests would preach on giving to the poor and a good deed during one’s life. But if the money is given after death it isn’t as valued. Many people felt sorry for the poor people and raised money for shelters to let them reside in.             However not...
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