As a result, the number of feast days fell. In Bamberg, for example, it dropped by 1789 to a total of only eighteen feast days on which work was completely forbidden and none on which it was partially outlawed. Cutting back on the feast days did provoke popular opposition, but it also meant that men and women worked more each year. The longer working year, it has been argued, may in turn explain much of the increase in output observed during the early years of Industrial Revolution. If so, then the Industrial Revolution did not really boost productivity much before 1800, despite all the new technology of steam engines and cotton textile production. Nor did it really increase per capita consumption. People did have more money to spend on new consumer goods, but they were simply working longer, and their higher incomes had been purchased at the expense of their free time, a valuable 'commodity' that they now did without. All in all, then, they were not that much better off, at least by 1800, but they were working harder, thanks to a broad campaign that made people more 'industrious' than they had been in the past.3
It is conceivable that Christian charity also had an impact on early modern labour markets. Philosophers such as Turgot feared that pious bequests would encourage paupers to give up workfor a life ofbegging, and critics could always point to cases in which beggars took money they had collected at a church door and immediately drank it up at the nearest tavern or cabaret.4 Religious zeal induced both Protestants and Catholics to leave money to the poor and to create institutions to help them, and this sort of charity was particularly pronounced under the resurgent Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation, at least if we judge from work by French historians, who have paid particularly close attention to religious charity in the early modern period. Do they find that religious charity actually drew a significant number of people away from the labour market?
The answer, in all likelihood, is no. That at least is the conclusion that emerges from what happened in Grenoble in south-eastern France. To judge from bequests made in wills, Catholic religious charity in Grenoble peaked in the 1690s and then was forced down by an economic downturn. Many of the paupers who received this charity, however, were not employed in the first place and so could not have been drawn away from the labour market, no matter what critics such as Turgot might have thought. They were aged, sick, orphans, or women with young children, who could not be expected to work. Furthermore, religious charity in early modern Europe was simply too small to have much of an impact on the labour market. Philosophers such as Turgot were not the only ones to fret about the incentives that assistance might create, whether it was religious or public, but despite all the worrying over the
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