chapter  3
The old and the new ways: wills and charity, 1539-1580
Pages 57

Charity and alms to the poor in pre-Reformation England fulfilled Catholic injunctions to perform good works, for the forgiveness of sins. Even after the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, however, official pronouncements coerced and cajoled relief of the poor, still seen as a pious Christian imperative. The years 1539 to 1580 ushered in a pattern of pious giving that stressed charitable bequests to the poor, although testators gave the greatest weight to gifts for friends, family, servants and associates, all connected by non-pious ties. Charity remained a significant component of piety, but testators began to emphasize their worldly or secular connections.