Local Hospitals in Ancien Régime France

Local Hospitals in Ancien Régime France: Rationalization, Resistance, Renewal, 1530-1789

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    Local Hospitals in Ancien Régime France
    Book Description:

    During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the French Crown closed down thousands of local hospices, maladreries, and small hospitals that had been refuges for the sick and poor, supposedly acting in the name of efficiency, better management, and elimination of duplicate services. Its true motive, however, was to expropriate their revenues and holdings. Hickey shows how, in spite of government efforts, a countermovement emerged that to some degree foiled the Crown's attempts to suppress local hospitals. Charitable institutions, churchmen inspired by the new message of the Catholic Reformation, women's religious congregations, and community elites defied intervention measures, resisted proposed changes, and revitalized the very type of institution the Crown was trying to shut down. Hickey's conclusions are supported by a study of eight local hospitals, which allows him to measure the impact of Crown decisions on the day-to-day functioning of these local institutions.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6644-6
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Maps, Tables, and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Glossary of French Terms
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Small charitable institutions dotted the French kingdom at the end of the Middle Ages. Every region and most towns and villages had hospices,léproseries, and “hospitals.” Developed out of the Christian tradition ofcaritas, these institutions had two distinctly different roots. In the cities, they had been created using the alms collected by cathedrals and episcopal seats; in the countryside, similar institutions found their origins either in the “hospitality” offered to pilgrims and travellers by abbeys and monasteries or in the efforts of communities to set up houses where lepers could be isolated from society.¹ The resulting establishments formed the...

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 15-16)

      The welfare agencies inherited from the Middle Ages were many and varied. By the early sixteenth century, contemporary texts speak of these institutions as maladreries, hospices, almshouses, and hospitals. The maladreries had been founded between the tenth and the thirteenth centuries to confine and care for lepers; however, by the sixteenth century, the decline and virtual disappearance of leprosy had led these institutions to convert themselves to care for the local poor and handicapped. Most of the hospices had also been set up during the late Middle Ages. With the goal of housing pilgrims and travellers, they had originally been...

    • 1 Changes in the Organization and Direction of Town and Village Charity, 1540–1640
      (pp. 17-44)

      On 15 October 1548 an ordinance of the Parlement of Brittany gave the Hôtel-Dieu of Nantes supervisory rights over all the hospitals in the diocese of Nantes. Using those powers, the bureau of the Hôtel-Dieu ordered the Hôpital St-Armal in the town of Savenay to replace the priest in charge with a lay administrator.¹ Seven years later an order-incouncil stipulated that the Savenay hospital was to be “united” with the Hôtel-Dieu of Nantes, thereby depriving the parish of its right to select the administrator. The text declared that in the future the institution would be governed by therecteur, the...

    • 2 Transferring Poor-Relief Funds to Old Soldiers: The Order of Mount Carmel and St-Lazare
      (pp. 45-68)

      On 4 July 1680 Maître Gaspard Cached, agent of the general director of the Order of Notre-Dame of Mount Carmel and of St-Lazare, rode into Étoile to inspect the operations of the town hospital, which was located just outside the walls. He noted in his report that there was no caretaker and that he found only one inmate, a poor girl lying on a straw mattress in the rundown building. He concluded that the basic requirements for “hospitality” were not being respected.¹ Despite the protests of André Serret, recteur of the hospital, Judge Jean-Guy Basset of Grenoble upheld the negative...

    • 3 The Aftermath of Notre-Dame of Mouth Carmel and St-Lazare: The Closures Continue
      (pp. 69-96)

      On 4 May 1697 the administrators of the hôtel-Dieu and hôpital-général of Le Havre asked that an inquiry be held into the new expropriations of seven maladreries in and around the town of Fécamp.¹ After the 1693 decree had ended their “union” with the Order of Mount Carmel and St-Lazare, these institutions had been taken away from the Seigneur de Refuge of the commanderie of Fécamp. The Conseil d’État had ordered that since they were too small to function normally, they should be closed down and their revenues used to found an hôpital-général in Fécamp. However, in a series of...

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 97-99)

      The attempts to reform local assistance to the poor and the sick brought numerous investigations of and litigation against the hospitals and hospices that had distributed such aid. Two major movements emerged to argue in favour of reforming charity. The first was a practical approach in reaction to what was seen as the corruption and inefficiency of local hospitals. Beginning in 1543, royal edicts had started to ask crown officials to investigate the way that local hospitals were being managed. They were perceived as squandering the grants and legacies that had been given to them to aid the sick and...

    • 4 The Hospital, the Church, and the Local Community: Control, Support, and Involvement
      (pp. 100-133)

      In late October 1736 the members of the Grignan bureau of the poor met to carry out a surprise inspection of the local hospital. Having prayed together at the St-Roch chapel, the group proceeded to the institution, where they found Jeanne-Marie Peyronnette, the servant and caretaker, and the inmates: Bonpenase Viellet, who was handicapped, Jeanne Burque from Messire and Isabeau Roux from Courdeille, both slightly deranged, the six- or seven-year-old illegitimate son of Jean Andiol’s wife, a three-year-old illigimate son of Jeanne Buffete, the wife of Bartholome Luschuges, the widow Malquroin, and Marie Casandrine. The members of the bureau found...

    • 5 Religious Congregations and Local Hospitals: Women Working in the World
      (pp. 134-174)

      On 3 June 1666 in the town of Malestroit, the assembly of nobles, bourgeois, yeomen (manants), andhabitantsmet to discuss the deteriorating conditions under which the sick were being treated at the local hospital. They noted that much of the problem lay in the disorder created by the beggars and itinerants who were put up in the institution. The assembly decided by a plurality of votes to accept a proposition that had been negotiated by Sieur Fontano, the recteur, and other town dignitaries calling for the establishment in the hospital of the “damoiselles et filles” from the Hôtel-Dieu at...

    • 6 The State and Hospital Reform in the Eighteenth Century: New Directions or Continued Improvisation?
      (pp. 175-197)

      On 10 December 1774 the directors of the Caudebec hospital received a letter from the subdélégué in the town asking for information about the institution as part of a general inquiry into charity launched by Controller General Turgot. The directors named their colleagues Gueret and Falloppe to collaborate with hospital administrators in replying to the questions posed.¹ In the documents published from the replies sent to the intendant from all the hospitals in the généralité, the Caudebec data indicate that the St-Julien hospital had been founded in 1200, that its charter and founding documents no longer existed, that the institution...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 198-208)

    The experiences of local hospitals in France from the sixteenth century to the Revolution can be seen as a long-term grass-roots effort to resist the forces of centralization and rationalization. They present us with a typical case in which the absolute monarchy tried to impose its diagnosis of inefficiency and its prescription of closure and expropriation upon institutions created and maintained by town and village communities. From the 1530s to the 1750s, crown officials were at work promoting different scenarios for expropriating the funds of local hospitals. They were convinced that in addition to being corrupt, these institutions held rich...

  11. APPENDIX ONE Grignan Recteurs des Pauvres, 1661–1722
    (pp. 209-210)
  12. APPENDIX TWO Seyne Recteurs of the Hospital, 1713–1750
    (pp. 211-212)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 213-246)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-264)
  15. Index
    (pp. 265-275)