Victims Of Poorhouse Charity

At times and places in so-called Catholic Europe, it wasn’t good to be identified as a woman in need of charity. They’d send you to the poor house, and treat you like a prostitute: which is to say, they’d chain you, starve you, work your fingers to the bone, and try to beat the devil out of you. Two such unhappy poorhouse captives are the subjects of this artwork by Georges Pichard:

whipped poorhouse captives

How could such unhappy creatures as these ever hope to escape from such a vile place? Eventually they would be released into the custody of some man. Usually this would be termed a marriage, but in practice it was a chattel slavery transaction; they’d be sold, in effect, and hustled off into a life of domestic servitude.

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