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Widowhood, Poverty, And Charity

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Chapter Summary

Socio-economic status had a very real impact on a widow's life because self-sufficiency usually depended upon the couple's financial state at the time of the husband's death. Charitable activity, enjoined by widows or in support of them, ensured social stability by preserving the socializing force of the family. The physical conditions under which they survived and their society's appraisal of the poor and poverty conditioned how widows might present themselves as worthy beneficiaries of charity, and thus worthy members of Castilian society. Confraternities constituted another source of charitable outpouring both served by and serving widows. Widows do appear among the residents of Toledo's hospitals and hospices, but they more frequently partook of in-home relief, whether mediated by the municipality, parishes, monastic institutions, or confraternities.

Keywords: confraternity; exercise charity; poverty; Toledo's hospitals; widowhood



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