Ideologies shaping an understanding of the cause of poverty, and methods for helping the poor, are influenced by social forces occurring in the larger societal context. While these have varied from ancient times to the present, principles established by Medieval poor laws have been persistent themes in approaches for helping the poor, and served as the context for the emergence of the almshouse. The use of the almshouse as a form of poor relief emerged in the Old World against the backdrop of societal changes occurring in Europe during the late medieval period. The Middle Ages began with the fall of the Roman Empire and encompass the period between the 5th and 15th centuries, and the late Middle Ages fall between the 14th and 15th ...

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