Conference: Rethinking Poverty in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

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In a period when modern media outlets and politicians continue to discuss the cost of living in our own time, historians have long appreciated the preponderance and scale of poverty in the pre-modern world.

While recent scholarship has done much to enhance our understanding of the development of centralised systems of poor relief between the late-medieval and early modern periods, historians know far less about continuities in the definition, treatment or legislation of poverty across this period. As a result, the gulf separating developments of the earlier and later part of this period appear even larger and more significant in their impact.

This two-day conference seeks to address poverty over a broadly defined medieval and early modern period and will provide a forum for medieval and early modern scholars to compare and contrast developments and continuities across Europe. While medieval and early modern are deliberately broad concepts, the definition of poverty is also wide and could encompass a variety of topics. The work discussed here will augment the existing field of study by offering new ways to problematise the concept of poverty and understand the complexity of charitable giving, obligation and kinship in the pre-modern period.

The conference provides a platform where the contributions of postgraduates, early-career researchers and established scholars exchange their ideas on an equal footing. To facilitate discussion, the conference will include a roundtable discussion and two plenary papers.

Organisers: Dr Laura Crombie (University of York) and Dr Chris Langley (Newman University, Birmingham)


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