- 史学研究会 (京都大学大学院文学研究科内)
- 史林 (ISSN:03869369)
- vol.101, no.2, pp.427-446, 2018-03
For the generations who experienced the overwhelming influence of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber, the image of Calvinists devoting themselves to the accumulation of money in order to expand their own enterprises is incompatible with an altruistic spirit represented by alms and charity. However, Calvinists were in fact devoted to relief of the poor and they developed their own system, the diaconate. Here I clarify the important role the diaconate played for Calvinists in leading a devout life by showing the results of regional historical studies on poor relief under the institution. A newmeaning for the word "diaconate" came from the Jean Calvin's understanding of the Bible. In his 1541 Ecclesiastical Ordinances, Calvin explained four important roles inside the church, that of pastor, elder, teacher and deacon, and regarded the diaconate as an office for poor relief within the community of the faithful, while Luther and Zwingli still followed the old Catholic understanding of "attendant clerical servant." Calvin accounted for this change by referring to the descriptions of the ancient church in Acts 5 [6: 1-6]. Calvinists established an office for relief of the poor within the household of the faithful, while the Lutheran and Zwinglian left poor relief to the city government. Thus, conflict between the diaconate and the civic official would often occur. In this paper I address case studies of Geneva in the early modern era, Lyon and Nîmes in France under the Edict of Nantes from 1598 to 1685, and six cities in Holland from 1572 to 1620. For Geneva, I make use of articles on municipal poor relief by Robert M. Kingdon and a book by Jeannine E. Olson on the private fund called the Bourse française, which was chiefly used to support religious refugees from France. The Geneva diaconate appeared only within the Bourse française. The deacons helped not only the poor themselves but also those on the doorstep of poverty by hiring them for many tasks, especially sewing, errand-running and child care. The deacons occupied themselves with poverty in a double fashion, both in ameliorating measures and prevention. For Lyon and Nîmes, I relied on articles by Wilma J. Pugh. As regards France, where under the Edict of Nantes Catholics and Protestants rivaled one another, I compare the conditions of the poor in Lyon, where Catholics consistently dominated Protestants with those in Nîmes, where both communities were equally matched. The frequency of charitable bequests was under the Catholic church in Nîmes overwhelming higher than in Lyon, while the frequency was equal under the Reformed church in Nîmes and Lyon. In Nîmes the frequency of bequests by the Catholics rivaled that of the Reformed church. I summarized concluding that competition between the two confessions was sometimes favorable for the development of municipal administration of poor relief. For Holland, I made use of Charles H. Parker's study of poor relief in the six cities of Gouda, Leiden, Dordrecht, Amsterdam, Harlem and Delft. These were of great help for my study of the diaconate. The poor relief in early modern times has often been considered from the viewpoint of discipline: that is of howto make the poor become independent, as seen in the earlier scholarship of Michel Foucault and Bronisław Geremek. Based on his individual research in Delft, Parker paid special attention to the fact that although some of the poor were clearly refused attendance at communion due to a moral lapse, not all of them were immediately excluded from poor relief. In most cases, when the poor were initially charged with a transgression, the deacons did not cut them off automatically. It is not difficult to imagine that there were humanitarian concerns about maintaining a minimum standard of living and a strong push from influential figures, but those factors appear to be insufficient. The relief for the poor by the deacons did not aim at a hard and active disciplining of the poor as might be assumed, but at a soft disciplining that patiently waited for selfimprovement by the poor themselves. It was often said that the Calvinist Reformation led to the growth of individualism in Europe. However, when seen from the viewpoint of relief of the poor, it was obviously "a Reformation of the community". In conclusion I indicate that it is highly probable that an antithesis to the hard-edged European images that we have held of the "capitalist spirit" of Weber and of the theories of discipline of Foucault can be seen in the poor relief of the Calvinists.