Poverty, plague and the politics of communal responsibility
in The social world of early modern Westminster
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The study of how Westminster society responded to poverty enables us to examine issues that highlighted fundamental questions of communal identity in Westminster, at both ends of the social scale. The Abbey was a source of some charitable provision in medieval Westminster, and the charitable activities of the Westminster monks may have been more carefully targeted, and the alms more effectively distributed, than has sometimes been thought. Whatever the extent of the monks' personal involvement in the town, the amount of alms which the Abbey distributed could still be significant. Westminster's political significance, and the socially elevated character of many of its inhabitants, meant that Westminster was expected to act with especial vigilance towards plague. For this reason, the Westminster parishes were often in the vanguard in introducing policies intended to control the disease, including the use of pesthouses.

The social world of early modern Westminster

Abbey, court and community 1525–1640

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