Statues of labourers
The King stated it this way:
"In all places ...vagabonds and beggars have increased,
and daily do increase in great numbers by the occasion
of idleness, mother and root of all vices."
Here is the origins of the present welfare system
which developed over the next 645 years.
Today the giving of charity or welfare remains linked to the past.
Today we have the same conceptions of idleness and work as the
Statute of Labourers did in the 1300's.
As the new system of capitalism developed into the 16th Century,
what were the resources of the poor?
There were several: begging which was illegal, private charities
and foundations, craft organizations where employed workers helped
those less fortunate, and churches. But at this time, an important
change took place in the legislation in regard to beggars and
vagabonds, and that change has become a fundamental aspect of
social welfare until today.
The change occurred in 1531 when begging was legalized for
the "aged, poor and impotent" or "disabled." However, the
law required that anyone who was considered just plain lazy
be tied to a cart and whipped, and then forced to work.
Here again is the contradiction between the urge to punish
people and blame them for their poverty while at the same
time expecting them to have the discipline to return to work.