Cambridge (Mass.)-London, Harvard University Press, 2013.
Renaissance Italians pionereed radical changes in ways of helping the poor, including orphanages, workhouses, pawnshops, and women's shelters. Nicholas Terpstra shows that gender was the key factor driving innovation. Most of the recipients of charity were women. Cultures of Charity is the first book to see women's poverty as the key factor driving changes to poor relief. These changes generated intense political debates as proponentsof republican democracy challenged more elitist and authoritarian formsof government emerging at the time. Focusing on Bologna, Terpstra looks at how these fights around politics and gender generated pioneering forms of poor relief, including early examples of maternity benefits, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and credit union savings plans.