Le Risorse Dei Poveri. Carità E Tutela Della Salute Nel Principato Vescovile Di Trento in età Moderna

Article excerpt

Le risorse dei poveri. Carità e tutela della salute nel principato vescovile di Trento in età moderna. By Marina Garbellotti. [Istituto trentino di cultura: Annali dell'Istituto storico italo-germanico in Trento, Monografie, 46.] (Bologna: Il Mulino. 2006. Pp. 424. euro29.00 paperback.)

This is an impressively researched book that describes the entire system of charity structures in the territory of the prince-bishops of Trent from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Garbellotti's contribution to the scholarship results more from the topic that she has documented (while charitable institutions have been studied in urban contexts, they have received little attention in rural settings) than from a new analytical perspective. Given the state of the sources, much of the story here comes from the city of Trent itself, but the city's small size and its situation outside of a major Italian state makes it an interesting case. It is a bit more difficult to identify whether and how, in the author's view, the practice of charity in the Trentino helps us understand practices elsewhere in Italy or Europe in a different way; that is, whether the author's evidence revises dominant interpretations in the literature on this topic, or provides a new one.

Chapters 1 through 3 examine the political, legal, and institutional structures relating to assistance for the poor and the ill in the Trentino between the later Middle Ages and the eighteenth century. A key theme here and elsewhere is that political divisions between the prince-bishop, the Trent city council, and other groups (especially the confraternities that ran the four hospitals in Trent during the entire Old Regime) prevented one group from either asserting unambiguous control over assistance practices or carrying out comprehensive reforms. Much attention is given to the work of the confraternity of the Zappatori Alemanni, whose house in the German quarter of Trent was dedicated to helping foreigners. In chapter 4 we find that the fifteenth-century innovations (distinguishing between the poor and the sick, growing involvement of civic authorities in administering assistance) that took place in much of urban Italy did not take root in Trent. …


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