By Jean Helen Quataert
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Extra info for Staging Philanthropy: Patriotic Women and the National Imagination in Dynastic Germany, 1813-1916
There was, for example, the prominent widows’ asylum in Florence, the Orbatello, which was watched over by municipal of‹cials. This quasi-private institution was a two-story apartment house for widows and their children, run by women in its daily operations and designed to insure future family formation. City fathers gave each girl a small dowry to help start a new family. 8 Embedded in these relationships were older values that linked fortune and wealth with sacri‹ce and giving. 9 Republican Florence still operated within a medieval Christian context that sancti‹ed the act of giving alms itself and was indifferent to the nature and causes of poverty.
Emboldened by the Christian spirit, Scheibler was calling on his brothers and sisters of both confessions in the religiously mixed environs of the Rhineland to support his noble venture. And he laced the manifesto with assurances that by these acts of charity the benefactors would receive God’s abiding pleasure and reap due rewards in heaven. 2 The pastor’s solicitation, in part, grew out of a religious revival of piety that had swept through German territories in response to the revolutionary wars and the Napoleonic occupation.
For more general discussion of the religious revival, James J. Sheehan, German History, 1770–1866 (Oxford, 1989), 555–65; Nipperdey, Deutsche Geschichte, 1800–1866, 74–75; and, most recently, David Blackbourn, The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany, 1780–1918 (New York, 1998), 134–37. The Landesmutter and Philanthropic Practices, 1813–1848 23 invested with honor, and he sang the praise of those who accepted the “duty of love” at the root of the charitable impulse. The same appeal, however, pointed to other new cultural patterns as well.