Student Question

How would a middle ages almoner introduce himself?

Expert Answers

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The title "Almoner" is derived from the root word "alms" which refers to charitable donations and giving. The Almoner held an official position and he was in charge of distributions to the poor.

One difference that is worth noting here is that when one hears or considers the word "alms" the first thing that comes to mind is the giving and distribution of money. A very common occurrence in literature, for example, is to have a beggar asking for "alms for the poor," which means he or she is asking for financial donations.

With the Almoner in the Middle Ages such was not the case. This was a job typically filled by a monk who would gather the leftovers from the table in the monastery, spare tallow or maybe even fabric that could be used by the poor, thus not allowing these things to go to waste by giving them to someone who could use them. Typically this was done from a room attached to a church or chapel.

So, back to your question, if an Almoner were to introduce himself to you today he would probably use the description "Recycler." That would fit well into our frame of reference today. But it would be a church office.

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