Sally Mayall Brasher
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The hospital movement of the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries in northern Italy provides a lens through which to view the transformation of political power, religious life, and the social agency of urban citizens of the region. Traditional definitions of poverty and need, as well as suggestions of a Christian's responsibility to such need, no longer satisfied city-dwellers who saw a much greater demand and variety of suffering in their community than ever before. Communal need and institutional neglect led to the emergence of the medieval hospital as a widespread institutional phenomenon that served as a nexus of charitable activity, religious life, political access and social mobility. In the fourteenth century, multiple crises led to a further challenge to the ability of the laity to continue their control of hospital leadership.

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Hospitals and charity

Religious culture and civic life in medieval northern Italy


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