Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Supervisor

Megan Armstrong

Co-Supervisor

Bernice Kaczynski

Language

English

Committee Member

Virginia Aksan

Abstract

This work is a local study of charity in seventeenth-century Marseilles. Civic councillors, inspired by the dévot movement, were the chief agents of charitable poor relief. Responding to external political pressures from the Bourbon monarchy and religious inspiration from within the community, charity became a facet of local political authority and a vehicle of social moral reform. The collective purpose of the newly emerging specialized asylums was to mould orderly and spiritually orthodox members of society. In light of the city’s ongoing hopes for civic autonomy and its unwavering commitment to Catholicism, the desire for citizen-virtue crystallizes as a struggle for distinctly Marseillais identity. My study emphasizes not the ‘enfermement’ but the concept of ‘charity’ as the central concept in treatment of the poor. The asylums were ‘rehabilitative’ rather than purely punitive. In showing charity as a mechanism of social reform – tailored to each group’s material, moral and spiritual lowliness and to the threat they allegedly posed – the study implicitly unveils the exclusionary aspects of the social mosaic.

McMaster University Library

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