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History Essay- Between 1450 & 1700

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 all people agreed on giving without discretion.

Many of the government agents and the nobility believed in giving alms to the poor but wanted to make sure that the people they gave to were truly in need of money. Though the famine and plague filled years between 1450 and 1700, the number of people fluctuated from about 50% and 80%. Near the beginning of this crisis, people were more lenient towards them and gave them money and shelter without asking too many questions, but as time went on, the number of poor rose, people came wearier and realized that some of the beggars were begging simply because it was easier than working.

This resulted in a belief that the poor should get themselves of poverty because it was their fault they were in that situation in the first place. The Renaissance was “A revival or rebirth of cultural awareness and learning that took place during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, particularly in Italy,” according to Art In Focus. It followed the Middle Ages, and was basically a time of the revival of learning after the Middle Ages, or Dark Ages, a time with little increase of ideas, inventions or developments. During the Renaissance, art was a branch of knowledge.

It was a way to show God and his creations, as well as a science, of anatomy and perspective. Also during the Renaissance there were many people who used art as a way to record discoveries and inspired people to take pleasure in the world around them. Amid the constant changes of Europe’s societal climate between 1400 and 1700, some problems remained consistent. The issue of “the poor” has in various ways continued over centuries; however the attitudes and responses toward them have fluctuated according to other social situations. In particular, class distinctions, governmental action, and religion have influenced these reactions.

Before the European come to the New World many of the tribes within the North and South American lands had great skills in crop growing. The Europeans during the 1400 – 1500’s discovered that the New World had goods to trade and those goods were gold and silver. During the discovery of these exchanges of gold and silver within the New World the European also brought with them and epidemic of diseases like influenza, measles, chicken pox and other diseases that destroyed many native colonies. Because of the many diseases that wiped out many European along with many Native American an integrated of race started to grown.

European also brought to light other crop exchange like sugar and bananas along with exchanging of livestock like pigs, cattle and sheep. Also during these time many of the European men where longing for companionship and many interact with the native women which started a line of integrated race within the New World. Some marriages were consented and many of the Native American Indian men were made slaves or died in wars which made the native women marry the Spanish European men in order to survive. Another discover that was brought to light was within the New World was the African slave. Even hough black slaves were in demanded during the eighth century which during these time black slaves were being sold to the Mediterranean area. This trade did not take off within the New World until the sixteenth century that a demand for slaves was needed. The demand was not for domestic slavery but for labor work within the farming fields. In order for the European growth of their sugar and banana field the need for man power was very important to plant and mine the lands. In order, for   these crops to exchange in the European colony a need to invest in the purchase of African slaves to managed the growth of their crops.

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