Research

“A house dedicated to God”: Social Welfare and l’Hôpital Général in Reformation Geneva, 1535-1564

My dissertation examines the many functions — religious, political, social, and cultural — of the newly developed General Hospital in Calvin’s Geneva. The hospital provided a wide range of social welfare services well beyond medical interventions and hospitality, including raising orphans, providing alms to needy families, and paying to bury the poor. The hospital’s board of directors, whom Calvin considered deacons, were increasingly involved with the city’s semi-ecclesiastical institution of the Consistory and supplemented the Consistory’s disciplinary efforts in their attempts to ensure that the hospital provided aid only to the “worthy” poor. Beyond examining the functions of the hospital qua alms institution, my dissertation considers the ways in which the hospital functioned paternalistically and as a family: nurturing Genevans physically and spiritually throughout the lifecycle, and also meting out punishment when alms recipients failed to uphold civic expectations.

Chapter 1: Administrative Biography

Chapter 2: Childcare and Social Welfare: Support in Infancy and Childhood

Chapter 3: Bridging the Gap: Placing Youth Outside the Home

Chapter 4: The Struggling Household: Support for Adults

Chapter 5: The Nonexistent Household: Adults Beyond the Boundaries of the Family

Chapter 6: Old Age and Death