The Purchase of Paradise: The Social Function of Aristocratic Benevolence, 1307–1485
Published: December 1972© 1972
184 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Ebook - PDF
This account of medieval philanthropy books at the late medieval aristocracy as a social, rather than a political group, and analyses an aspect of their voluntary behaviour, their gift giving to the Church.
In the course of his study, Dr. Rosenthal clears up many of the current misconception about the nature of charity in the Middle Ages. He points out, for example, that the great endowments -- like Ewelme and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge -- were unusual, for most noble families were more concerned to endow a local charity or to purchase prayers after death, to be said by a local priest or chaplain.
The author gives an insight into the noble family of the time, as revealed by such charitable practices as the buying of prayers for relatives, and the family traditions of support for facoured houses which lasted through several generations. He shows that the family was the operative unit for most forms of benefaction and ecclesiastical contact, and that the hard necessities of baronial politics were often ignored when men turned their thoughts to philanthropy and prayers for their immortal souls.
The book will be of value not only to historians, but also those in the field of anthropology or sociology who are interested in the historical applications of the theory and practice of their subject.