‘Wat bedroeft lot is oudt stijf ende arm te wesen’ Waardigheid in verzoekschriften van verarmde Brusselse ouderen, c. 1750-1800.
Keywords:old age, survival strategies, coping strategies, makeshift economy, Brussels, locus of care, poor relief, alsmhouses, pauper letters
Abstract‘How sad a fate to be old, stiff and poor’. Deservingness in almshouse application
letters by impoverished Brussels elderly ca. 1750-1800.
This article offers a bottom-up perspective to the research on inclusion processes in
poor relief in general and elderly care and almshouses in specific at the end of the
Ancien Régime. By means of an extensive study of the application letters sent to the
Brussels ‘Twaalf Apostelen’ almshouse between 1750 and 1800, the article examines
how deservingness is anticipated by the elderly applicants and how it is argued in
their discourses. In addition, the article offers insight into the mental framework of
these elderly men surrounding coping strategies and channels through which care
should or could be obtained. By doing this, the article examines to which extent processes
of formalization during previous centuries influenced the mental framework
of the elderly during the second half of the eighteenth century.
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