Caritas: Neighbourly Love and the Early Modern Self

ISBN : 9780198868132

Katie Barclay
240 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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Caritas, a form of grace that turned our love for our neighbour into a spiritual practice, was expected of all early modern Christians, and corresponded with a set of ethical rules for living that displayed one's love in the everyday. Caritas was not just a willingness to behave morally, to keep the peace, and to uphold social order however, but was expected to be felt as a strong passion, like that of a parent to a child. Caritas: Neighbourly Love and the Early Modern Self explores the importance of caritas to early modern communities, introducing the concept of the 'emotional ethic' to explain how neighbourly love become not only a code for moral living but a part of felt experience. As an emotional ethic, caritas was an embodied norm, where physical feeling and bodily practices guided right action, and was practiced in the choices and actions of everyday life. Using a case study of the Scottish lower orders, this book highlights how caritas shaped relationships between men and women, families, and the broader community. Focusing on marriage, childhood and youth, 'sinful sex', privacy and secrecy, and hospitality towards the itinerant poor, Caritas provides a rich analysis of the emotional lives of the poor and the embodied moral framework that guided their behaviour. Charting the period 1660 to 1830, it highlights how caritas evolved in response to the growing significance of romantic love, as well as new ideas of social relation between men, such as fraternity and benevolence.


1 The Loving Community
2 Learning to Love
3 The Limits of Love
4 Promoting Harmony
5 Living Outside of Love

About the author: 

Katie Barclay is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions and Associate Professor in History, University of Adelaide. She is the author of Love, Intimacy and Power: Marriage and Patriarchy in Scotland, 1650-1850 (2011); Men on Trial: Performing Emotion, Embodiment and Identity In Ireland, 1800-1845 (2019), and numerous edited collections, articles, and book chapters in the area of the history of emotion, family life and gender. With Andrew Lynch and Giovanni Tarantion, she edits Emotions: History, Culture, Society.

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