- Jun 10, 2012It may depend on context. A grade-school student from a poor family was sometimes made the teacher's (often pastor at the same time) assistant for some financial compensation. Such a young "TA" or "church A" was called _mendicus/mendik_. This use of the word was more typical of Lutheran schools and parishes.
> deaths due to famine, during a particularly difficultPeople are still dying in famines, although not in Europe any more. They starved, like untold numbers of people throughout human history. There were no arrangements resembling Social Security in Europe in the distant past. To a high degree, farming communities used to be cashless societies, especially when it came to the poor farmers; and there were no food stores in villages. The food they ate year round was what they grew and stored. Those who were barely surviving during a period of hardship (which need not have been long) would not take food from their children to give to families whose members may have appeared even more starved.
> time--and wondered how that happened
Say, if a poor farm's stored food was massively damaged in a mid-March flood, there was no other source of food for them until things started to grow in late May/June (except some early nettles, etc., in April, and pouching). So, if the family had no one with a sufficient food surplus to turn to, some of the already undernourished, especially children and the weak and infirm, starved to death in just a few weeks.
> supported on elbows and knees, position I suspectExactly as you say, Ben, they simply want to appeal to those kind of donors, the beggars' postures are their own choice, not a "law."
> has a long tradition and decidedly religious overtones
And as you say, too, there is no law against begging in whatever way in Slovakia. When the Old Town Borough of Bratislava decided to ban begging on its streets in the past, the Constitutional Court struck it down as unconstitutional.
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