The Poor Peasant

The Poor Peasant

Not many people were worried about the medieval poor. Under the feudal system, the lives of medieval peasants were tough. If crops failed, tragedy struck or family members were no longer able to work, there was little to no support to fall back on.

The only aid came from local monasteries and churches, who gave alms to the poor. Almsgiving to the poor, including orphans, widows and travelers, was a basic pillar of Christian behaviour in the Middle Ages.

Peasants at work
Peasants at work

Monastic houses felt that it was their duty to administer charity. They gave alms to the poor, often from a special building by the gate called an almonry. They offered guest houses for travellers and infirmaries for their own sick.

There were around 1,000 hospitals in Medieval England, which were usually used by those who couldn’t afford treatment at home. For one, they had no professionally trained doctors and their primary objective was not to treat disease.

There were different types of hospitals, including leper houses, almshouses and institutions for the sick poor. However, each one was inextricably tied to the monastery. In fact, spiritual health was usually given more importance than physical health, so while herbal remedies were administered, the main duty of the caregiver was to pray for the souls of the sick.

See also: The Lives of Medieval Peasants

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Poor Peasant". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.