1st Edition

The Routledge History of Poverty, c.1450–1800

Edited By David Hitchcock, Julia McClure Copyright 2021
    408 Pages
    by Routledge

    408 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Routledge History of Poverty, c.14501800 is a pioneering exploration of both the lives of the very poorest during the early modern period, and of the vast edifices of compassion and coercion erected around them by individuals, institutions, and states.

    The essays chart critical new directions in poverty scholarship and connect poverty to the environment, debt and downward social mobility, material culture, empires, informal economies, disability, veterancy, and more. The volume contributes to the understanding of societal transformations across the early modern period, and places poverty and the poor at the centre of these transformations. It also argues for a wider definition of poverty in history which accounts for much more than economic and social circumstance and provides both analytically critical overviews and detailed case studies.

    By exploring poverty and the poor across early modern Europe, this study is essential reading for students and researchers of early modern society, economic history, state formation and empire, cultural representation, and mobility.


    David Hitchcock and Julia McClure

    Part I: Structures

    1. The regulation of charity and the rise of the state

    Joanna Innes

    2. The economic history of poverty, 1450–1800

    Guido Alfani

    3. Poverty and empire

    Julia McClure

    4. The vagrant poor

    David Hitchcock

    5. Poverty and environment in early modern England

    John Emrys Morgan

    Part II: Impacts

    6. Losing wealth: debt and downward mobility in eighteenth-century England

    Tawny Paul

    7. Poor bodies and disease

    Kevin Siena

    8. Motives of control/motifs of creativity: the visual imagery of poverty in early modern Europe

    Tom Nichols

    9. The worthiest to be relieved: disabled veterans in England, c. 1580–1630

    Abby Lagemann

    10. Consumption and material culture of poverty in early-modern Europe, c1450–1800

    Joseph Harley

    Part III: Institutions

    11. Institutional care for the sick and aged poor in later medieval England

    Carole Rawcliffe

    12. Poverty and the workhouse

    Alannah Tomkins

    13. Relief for the body, comfort for the soul: the case of Portuguese Misericórdias

    Sara Pinto

    14. Architecture in relief: hospitals for the poor in Venice and Lisbon

    Danielle Abdon

    Part IV: Connections

    15. Peddling and the makeshift economy

    Rosa Salzberg

    16. Poverty, law and labour in the Ottoman Empire

    Hayri Gökşin Özkoray

    17. Spas for the sick poor in the early modern British Atlantic World

    Amanda Herbert

    18. Barefoot children in a ‘fine room’: Robert Owen, Adam Smith, and social regeneration in Scotland

    Cornelia Lambert


    David Hitchcock is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at Canterbury Christ Church University. His research focuses on poverty and vagrancy in Britain and the Atlantic world. He is the author of Vagrancy in English Culture and Society, 16501750 (2016), and is working on a new book-length history of British welfare colonialism.

    Julia McClure is a Lecturer in Late Medieval and Early Modern Global History at the University of Glasgow. Her research explores the global history of poverty and charity, with a particular focus on the Spanish Empire. She is the author of The Franciscan Invention of the New World (2016), and is working on a new monograph on the moral economy of poverty and the making of the Spanish Empire.