A crisis of confidence: Parliament and the demand for hospital reform in early fifteenth and early sixteenth-century England

Rawcliffe, Carole (2016) A crisis of confidence: Parliament and the demand for hospital reform in early fifteenth and early sixteenth-century England. Parliamentary History, 34 (2). pp. 85-110. ISSN 1750-0206

[thumbnail of CrisisConf]
PDF (CrisisConf) - Accepted Version
Download (213kB) | Preview


This article examines attempts made by the Commons in the parliaments of April 1414 and 1512 to address the corruption, neglect and poor administrative standards deemed endemic in the nation's hospitals and almshouses, and to remedy a perceived lack of facilities for the care of sick paupers. Despite early (but short-lived) support from the crown, the first initiative failed, partly because of its association with heretical demands for the disestablishment of the English Church. Although the underlying reasons for institutional decline were often more complex than the reformers cared to suggest, their campaign did inspire a number of hospitals and their patrons to rectify abuses. At the same time, individuals and organisations throughout society invested in new foundations, generally under lay management, for the residential accommodation of the elderly and reputable poor. These measures sufficed until the arrival of endemic pox, along with mounting concerns about vagrancy and disorder, prompted another parliamentary petition for the investigation and reform of charitable institutions. Notable for its emphasis upon the sanitary imperative for removing diseased beggars from the streets, and thus eliminating infection, the bill of 1512 also attacked the proliferation of fraudulent indulgences, which raised money under false pretences for houses that were hospitals in name only. This undertaking also failed, almost certainly because the lords spiritual had, again, drawn the line at the prospect of lay intervention in overwhelmingly ecclesiastical foundations. Both bills are reproduced in full in an appendix, that of 1512 appearing in print for the first time.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: almshouses,church,disease,disorder,hospitals,indulgences,lollards,medieval,poverty,reform
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Medieval History
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 09:06
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2023 08:29
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/57617
DOI: 10.1111/1750-0206.12214


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item