chapter  7
17 Pages

Poor boxes, guild ethic and urban community building in Brabant, c. 1250–1600


In the later Middle Ages – sometimes earlier, sometimes later – craft guilds in the blooming towns of northwestern Europe started to set up their own formal relief insurance systems. The most common scheme was called a poor box: a mutual aid fund providing a small income replacement for a member unable to work due to illness. In the past few decades, researchers have begun to examine these welfare schemes in late-medieval England (Rosser, McRee) and the early modern northern Netherlands in particular (Bos, Van Leeuwen). This chapter adds a number of cities from the late-medieval southern Low Countries to this growing literature.