Breaking the Social Stereotypes of the 19th Century French Poor

Charity From the Church

Eponine Home

The Hospice
The Care
The Wetnurse
The Government

Charity Home
The Church
Frederic Ozanam
Government Aid
Women in Need

Women and Poverty
Living Conditions
Inside the Family
Making Ends   Meet



The Church had always seemed to provide a haven for the underprivileged. The struggle between the extreme class spheres has been an on going issue. The church has tried to be the understanding link between the two very differnt worlds of the wealthy (bourgeoisie) and the poverty stricken class. Before Public Assistance was intergrated into French society and welfare was even a program, the poor only knew of charity, although the wealthy often did not. The poor often lived a life of prostitution, criminals, and pure poverty.



[Click picture to see full enlargement and discussion!!!]


Catholic perspectives often varied with in the church walls. Count Alban de Villeneuve-Bargemont's work emphasized on the ever growing dimentions of poverty in France's most wealthy industrial departments. He saw how poverty sharply diverged from previous years. He discovered "that the more entrepreneurs of wealthy industries an area conatins, the more poor workers it has" (Lynch). His remedies for the social problems for the poor were systematic and economic. He proposed to return the poor worker back to a working environment where their way of life would be more manageable (more agricultural) and the relations between the employer and employee would be based more on a human to human relationship rather than human to servant relationship.

Although Villenuive-Bargemont's idea to equalize the relationship between employer and employee he still puts the poor into a "poor stereotype". He basically states that they would be better off working for people with the same status almost, perhaps a bit higher. However this idea still keeps the social classes apart and hostile feelings are still present.


Another perspective about the two spheres of social classes lie in the founder of the Societe de Saint Vincent-de-Paul, Frederic Ozanam. (pictured left).