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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2010

Christine M. Petto
Pages 35-59
DOI: 10.7761/ESP.2.1.35

Mapping Forbidden Places and Places of the Forbidden in Early Modern London and Paris

In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century London and Paris, growing numbers of poor alarmed notables and city officials who would come to view a policy of confinement as an appropriate social, economic, religious, and political solution. This work examines the motivations of patrons to support these institutions (called hospitals). In particular, this study looks at their support for the construction (or renovations) of chapels (e.g. chapel at La Salpêtrière and the chapel at the Lock Hospital) and their visitations to these hospitals. Vagrants, beggars, prostitutes, and idlers of other sorts healthy or not were confined not necessarily for their health but for their souls and for the social order of the city. The locations of these hospitals indicate a geographical isolation not only in their “placement” outside the city walls but even in the Christian charitable rhetoric or visitations by benefactors that emphasized their separateness. “Unclean livers” or destitute beggars were put on view so that the morally upright who patronized these institutions could view for instructional purposes and could be viewed for purposes of salvation, but remained as separate nonetheless. Great masses and grand sermons were heard in the chapels that adorned these institutions, but a clear policy of segregation existed that kept the godly patrons separate from the “polluted.”