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Charles Wesley and the Making of the English Working Class

Charles Edward White


Although their workload varied from place to place and from time to time, Europeans in the Middle Ages worked roughly two-thirds of the year, with about 80 full days and 70 partial days off. The leading theologian before the Reformation, Thomas Aquinas, had taught them that work, while not a curse, was a necessary evil to be avoided when possible. When not faced with hunger, often they did avoid it. Max Weber twice cites seventeenth-century Dutch economist Pieter de la Court saying that people only work because, and so long as, they are poor.8 How could workers such as these be induced to work long hours more than 300 days a year in the factories of the industrial revolution? They sang the hymns of Charles Wesley.

Charles Edward White, "Charles Wesley and the Making of the English Working Class," Journal of Markets & Morality 16, no. 2 (Fall 2013): 603-614

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