Sunday, October 2, 2011

DId people hoard in the Middle Ages?

I chose Stuff for this online book discussion nearly two months ago. During this time, I've had numerous discussions with friends about hoarding. Questions that came up were:

  • has the number of hoarding cases increased in the past decade or is hoarding just recognized and reported more?
  • did hoarding really exist prior to industrialized society?
  • if so, what did people hoard?
  • was hoarding bad in pre-industrialized societies, or viewed as necessary for survival?
Stuff begins with a quote from Dante, where he describes hoarders and wasters battling it out in The Inferno. Although I am not an expert in medieval & Renaissance history, I am assuming that Dante is referring to the wealthy aristocrats and merchants, who accumulated lands and goods in order to advance their families, reward their followers, and who would have been horrified by family wastrals. Nevertheless, did ordinary people hoard before consumerism became the driving force behind society? If not, what drove them to begin doing so? Was the hoarding impulse precipitated by changes social class and structure?


Anonymous said...

Ordinary people must have been shocked at the amount of stuff the nobility and aristocracy had. I think that not having a lot like the poor in the past and today may create a need to hang on to whatever they have. Hoarding is more than just collecting stuff - it is accumulating to the degree that it negatively affects the life of the hoarder and his or her loved ones. I imagine that could be at any socio-economic level or financial circumstances. It is strange to think that in the past hoarders would be limited to the wealthy and well to do.

Tracey said...

We were trying to think of what the poor would hoard. If you hoarded animals or food or building supplies or clothing,at some point members of your family or the community would start removing these things for use because these things were so scarce. Your community would have let you hoard only to a certain extent.