'All of my remaining property I donate to the poor...': institutions for the poor in Norwegian cities during the eighteenth century
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonScandinavian Economic History Review 2014, 62(1):75-93 10.1080/03585522.2013.873736
The 18th century saw a development of a stratified system of institutions for the poor in different social classes in Norwegian cities. This paper analyses its foundation through a cooperation of private donations and city authorities’ management, and it argues that donations to private almshouses aimed at safeguarding the social position of special groups in the city, while the city’s poorhouse was responsible for the paupers from the lower classes. While charity to please God and secure a place in the afterlife was an old motive, the wish to protect the social group, relatives, or personal servants is a striking phenomenon at the end of the 18th century. Citizens with burgher rights by virtue of their craft or commerce defended their position against non-skilled workers. Private gifts to supplement the public poorhouses helped securing this aim. The paper shows that donations to institutions in Trondheim fall into a general picture of social stratification, not only in society at large, but among the poorer parts of the population as well.