Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What Did Social Aid Look like in the Middle Ages? (Link, Quotes and Comment) Or was it sth else?

1)Explaining Holy Roman Empire in terms of comparing to US. - Pt I, 2 a) Part II, more on Guilds than on Holy Roman Empire, 2 b) Guilds and Distributism, Defined, Defended, 2 c) What Did Social Aid Look like in the Middle Ages? (Link, Quotes and Comment) Or was it sth else?, 3) Holy Roman Empire explained for US, but we are heading back for Rome now, Pt III

On Medievalists' Net* from June 6, 2014, you will get an answer about German Empire at least:

A unique source from 15th century Germany gives us some beautiful images of medieval people at work. Known the House Books of the Nuremberg Twelve Brothers Foundation, these were records of a charitable foundation started in the city of Nuremberg in 1388. The foundation would take 12 poor and needy people and provide them with training in a trade.

We have heard sth about "giving a man a fish or teaching him how to fish". For certain parts of the world, even about buying him a fisher boat. That seems to have been the idea. The article seems to think there was only one of these houses, but when we get to its German source, there are actually two Twelve Brother Houses, that of Mendel and that of Landau.

The article I cited gives illustrations, 20 of them. I will not reproduce the pictures, but I will cite a few of the texts under them.

Fritz Hufschmied is hammering a red-hot horseshoe on the anvil. ... Wilhelm is standing in a kitchen, cooking food on a fire. There are spoons and jars around him, and a pot hanging from the ceiling. ...

We are not quite told in these words whether Fritz (Frederick) and Wilhelm (William) became employees in these trades or whether they became their own masters. But look at this one:

Rudolf Meier has finished the framework for a house. You can see some of his tools.

So Rolf Myer became not just a colleague of St Joseph and of Our Lord, but like the former while alive, he became his own master. Did you notice the words "his tools"? Yes, precisely.

Hans Pernecker is polishing various pieces of armour, while other tools of his trade are spread around his workshop.

And of John, who is producing arms, we learn it is about not just "tools of his trade" but also about these lying about "spread around his workshop".

Berthold Uslaunb is selling spices from a table he set up on a barrel. He holds a pair of scales in his hands to weigh the product.

Yes, even today, if you sell anything from tables you set up, you usually own both the tables you set up and the merchandise. Uslaub, not Uslaunb, please!

Peter Velner sits in his workshop, working on a shoe with a curved knife. Other leather shoes are on display.

Yes, once again, "sits in his workshop".

Now, there are people these days who think they are doing extremely well by the poor people just by giving someone of them a chance to become employee where they make shoes for lots more of people, in a much bigger workshop, owned by someone else.

That was not quite the idea of the Twelve Brothers' Foundation. Here it was rather a matter of giving them both a fisherman's training and a fisherman's boat - except that in the Nuremberg area, fishing is not a very great business, we are not talking about a coastal town.

Now, there is a legal background for this kind of charity. St Thomas Aquinas, who was teaching philosophy and preaching catechism in Paris, nevertheless came from areas closer under the Roman or German Empire (Holy Roman Empire of German Nation / Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation) and knew of its legislation.

Back in the time of Justinian, as Chesterton noted, the recently just before Pagan Roman Empire was as yet "as much of a slave state as South Carolina antebellum". Hence the law "in incertum vagantes" which stated that those who loafed everywhere without looking for any opportunity to feed themselves by their own work, if healthy in body and thus not having the excuse of invalidity, should be made slaves and even slaves of the one denouncing them, unless they were found to be runaways of someone in particular wanting to reclaim them.

BUT, though Christianity did not change the text of the law over the centuries, it made a difference about its application. In St Thomas Aquinas' day, the deal was not permanent slavery, but an enquiry which looked further than just health of body: was the man able to do any work? Was the man able to get the work he was able of doing?

I can right now not find the authority, but somewhere he mentions that:

  • invalids are, as previously, as already in CIC, excused and so allowed to beg;
  • those knowing one trade and not being able to find work in it either on own property or that of someone else, as employees, are excused from working and allowed to beg while learning a second trade;
  • those knowing two trades and having no opportunity to live off either are also excused.

In this latter context, he said sth about this excuse being valid only according to the laws of the Emperors (i e the Frankish far off successors of Justinian, via Charlemagne and Otto), since a Christian should be willing to humiliate himself even more and learn as many trades as was necessary.

However, we note that the condition of slavery foreseen by In incertum vagantes has been emended to a condition of obligatory apprenticeship.

This is the context in which Till Eulenspiegel went from apprenticeship to apprenticeship and got himself fired from place after place, but also the context in which two foundations in Nuremberg take up the task of providing not just an apprenticeship, but also to finance, apparently, the shop, once apprenticeship is done, of the poor man.**

I do however find another authority in Aquinas***:

Thus alms are besought for the building of a bridge, or church, or for any other work whatever that is conducive to the common good: thus scholars may seek alms that they may devote themselves to the study of wisdom. On this way mendicancy is lawful to religious no less than to seculars.

Note that though the context is asking on whether Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians and Carmelites have the right to beg, in the context of utility "mendicancy is lawful to religious no less than to seculars".

Back to the context, the twenty men depicted as former poor now helped to a business in the article are very probably not people who have begged either to preach or to study - they are people who either begged or did some other makeshift because of poverty.

And they were helped into positions, not of employee, but of independent artisan, at least once in a while. There is one pretty exception, no, two actually:

Peter is standing in a bell tower and blows the hourly chime. ... This unnamed man is at a gate house and taking payment from a merchant.

In other words, two of them became employees of Nuremberg. And becoming it as a watchman was honourable, but the tax collector, wisely, opted for anonymity.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Gregory the Wonderworker

Update / Or was it sth else? I looked at the German original, and I am very much less sure it had anything to do with social help to apprenticeships.

Amb. 317.2° Folio 7 recto (Mendel I) (image)

dito, but the data


Der xix bruder der do starb hyeß Albrecht vnd was ein kürschner

The xix brother who then died was hight Albrecht and was a furrier.

It seems the Twelve Brother Foundations were there to pray for the dead./HGL

Further update:

Die beiden Nürnberger Zwölfbrüderbücher waren als Chroniken und Totenbücher zweier Nürnberger Sozialstiftungen des späten Mittelalters angelegt worden. Ohne Unterbrechung wurden sie bis zum Ende der reichsstädtischen Selbständigkeit im Jahr 1806 mit strenger Kontinuität gepflegt: vorderhand der steten Erfüllung des Stiftungszwecks Ausdruck verleihend - und gleichzeitig ein immens reiches Bildmaterial erzeugend.   Both the Nuremberg Twelve Brother Books were planned as Chronicles and Obituaries of two Social Foundations of Nuremberg of the late Middle Ages. Without a break they are continued unto the end of the independence as Imperial-Immediate Cities in 1806, and entertained with strict continuity : on purpose giving expression to the non-ending implementation of the purpose - and at the same time producing an immensely rich imagery.
Der vermögende Handelsmann Konrad Mendel hatte 1388 ein Altenheim zur Wohnstätte und Verpflegung für jeweils zwölf bedürftige, alte Nürnberger Handwerker erbauen und mit Kapital für eine dauerhafte Führung ausstatten lassen. Seit etwa 1425/26 wurde jeder „Mendelbruder“ mit einem ganzseitigen Bildnis im Mendelschen Hausbuch porträtiert. Es wuchs bis zum Ende der reichsstädtischen Zeit auf einen Umfang von insgesamt 857 Bildseiten mit 765 Handwerkerdarstellungen im Folioformat an.   The affluent trader Konrad mendel had in 1388 built an old peoples' home for home and care for at every time twelve needy, old Nuremberger Artisans, and provided it with capital for a permanent conducting of it. Since about 1425/26 each "Mendel Brother" was given a portrait in the Mendel House Book. It grew to the end of the time of imperial immediacy to a compendium of 857 picture pages with 765 portraits of artisans in folio format.

In other words, we are not talking of people who got into business, but of people who retired from it. But the portraits are not of their old age, but of their active days. And for each brother who died, it was prayed for his soul. Unlike Protestant parts of Germany, Nuremberg was free from "reformation" and therefore this continued until Napoleon made a very great difference for such foundations by the abolition of Imperially Immediate independance in Nuremberg./HGL


* Jobs in the Middle Ages
June 6, 2014 By Medievalists.net

Which in its turn links to source:

The Nuremberg Twelve Brothers Foundation continued this practice into the nineteenth-century, giving us almost 1,200 illustrations of people in their various crafts and jobs. You can see the entire manuscript at this German website.

Die Hausbücher der Nürnberger Zwölfbrüderstiftungen

** On a very personal side note, I might add that I already do know two trades : writing and composing music. My conditions for either production of mine could afford either an extra revenue for an already established professional or a beginning for a new printer or musician in search of a repertoire.

hglwrites : A little note on further use conditions

musicalia : What's the deal? C'est quoi ce truc?

*** Summa Theologica : Second Part of the Second Part
Question 187. Things that are competent to religious
Article 5. Whether it is lawful for religious to beg?

No comments:

Post a Comment