When looking back on the Renaissance we generally think of it as the pinnacle of human achievement. This era was the introduction of the modern era as we know it. This era also was a time of poverty, where almost half Europe’s population suffered through. Different views of the treatment of the poor surfaced from the late 15th to 18th century (1450-1700). These views ranged from the viewing the poor in contempt, to regulating the poor, and simply helping them out of sympathy and believing it right.
The poor of the time were viewed in contempt by some. In Document 4, Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor, sent an imperial decree to the Netherlands. His decree said that if everyone were allowed to beg for alms, many would abuse that and would become lazy; he then goes on saying that this is the beginning of all evil. However he goes back to say that those who are poor and sick and unable to earn a living should be cared for, for the glory of god. Charles V, as a ruler, would want his people to work more and not become lazy to help the economy but also understands that there are those who are truly not able to work and seeks to help them. Cardinal Richelieu, who was advisor to King Louis XIV, made a statement regarding the poor in France (DOC 8). He states that good for nothing people turned to begging and stealing instead of earning a living. He says these vagabonds steal from the sick and deserving poor. He goes on saying regulations are needed for the poor and that work should be given to them. Richelieu’s statement is contradictory as he says vagabonds steal from the “deserving poor”. Who is there to determine which poor are the deserving and could the vagabonds robbing them be poor also and cannot find a job with earning? Contempt for the poor was hidden under a veil of ignorance this can be seen in Jean Maillefer, a wealthy merchant, who sent a letter to his children saying that he has heard poor people speak of how they have grown used to their life. He...
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