ByJonathan Barry, Colin Jones
Pages 13

The chapters in this collection offer, through a series of case studies, a critical account of the relationship between charity and medicine before the relatively recent establishment of modern welfare states. They range widely across western Europe, and cover a period from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. They also investigate the relationship between charity and medicine from a variety of standpoints, highlighting in turn the charitable donor, the recipient, the professional physician, and the nurse. Several studies focus on hospitals, others on non-institutional forms of medical charity. Inevitably, therefore, no simple pattern is detectable. Yet despite the variety of geographical, historical and environmental settings here depicted, certain key features in the relationship between medicine and charity are strikingly persistent. This brief introduction draws out some of these regularities and recurrences, so as to suggest an agenda of issues which future historians of charity and medicine will wish to explore. Significantly too, most of these themes are of equal pertinence to continuing debates today over the place of charity in medical provision, as the assumptions and practices of the welfare state are thrown into doubt.1