Velfærdsstatens religiøse rødder

PhD thesis by Hanne Puk Dahl at Aalborg University.

The Religious Roots of the Welfare State

Searching for the religious roots of the welfare state is the subject of this PhD dissertation.

The aim has been to conduct a comparative study of Denmark and Germany. The idea is to determine the influence of the reformation in the view of fighting poverty.

The analyses are based on three studies of microcosmic character. The studies are based on historical empiric material found describing the nature of institutions fighting poverty from the middle age until 18th. Century.

I have chosen three cities. They are Aalborg in Denmark and Lübeck and Passau in Germany. The cities all have a monastery of The Holy Ghost, which still is functioning. This has been a reason for choosing these cities as historic micro cosmos. The idea is to make a comparison based on almost similar institutions. Monasteries of The Holy Ghost are institutions founded by citizens who gave a large donation in order to help fight poverty. The institutions had various functions as hospitals, orphanages, elder homes and almshouses for poor people. The monasteries have been founded before the reformation. This gives a possibility to investigate which changes the reformation led to in everyday life for poor people.

The comparison will also cover the general outline of the way poverty has been addressed in the three cities.

For Germany, the timespan is from the foundation of the monasteries until 1803/06. 1803 is the year of secularization, which in Germany means that all property of the church is taken over by the state in order to pay reparations to France after having lost the Napoleon Wars. 1806 is the year where “Code Napoleon” is implemented in Germany as the new way of legislating.

The year of secularization is the year of major changes in Passau, since Passau is not affected by the reformation. It stays catholic and so does its social institutions.

For Lübeck 1531 is the year of major changes. This is the year where it adapts a new constitution for the city because of the reformation.

Of Aalborg, the important year of change is 1537/39 where the Lutheran constitution for the church is adapted. For Aalborg, the timespan for the historic microstudy continues until 1708 where a nationwide legislation considering how to deal with poor people is passed. The law from 1708 ordains the first assessment tax on income with the purpose of paying for the need of poor people. I have studied the tax lists from Aalborg as a primary source of information, which has never been investigated before.