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POINT OF VIEW: Another skill you must demonstrate is an assessment of the bias or point of view (POV) represented in the documents; in other words, why is this specific author making this particular statement? Here you should consider the following: in what way(s) does the class, nationality, gender, official position, ideology, or other characteristic of the author influence his or her thinking on the topic at hand? How does the type of document (e.g., public speech, private letter or diary, government report) affect its purpose and content? You need to give at least THREE good examples of POV in your DBQ essay.

A Good POV, has three things

  1. WHO Said it.
  2. WHAT they said
  3. WHY they are qualified to say this

POV is NOT an author's opinion.

POV IS: An explanation of WHY an author had that opinion.

POV Training Exercise #1

Directions: Read the following DBQ questions and documents, paying special attention to the document source information (author, time, place, political and/or religious affiliation, etc.).  For each document write a possible point of view statement about the author.  Remember, P.O.V. is NOT the author’s opinion, but rather a possible reason why the author may hold that opinion.  Point of view can sometimes be seen as the author’s bias.  A simple formula for P.O.V. is:


What + Motive = Point of View, where “What” is the type of document, author’s background (social, political, religious, economic, etc.), the time period, country or place, etc. and “Motive” is the reason why the author might have that opinion.

You must complete 3 out of the remaining 6, your choice. 

  • Analyze attitudes toward and responses to “the poor” in Europe between approximately 1450 and 1700.


Document #1

Source: Catholic priest, sermon, France, fifteenth century


Whoever gives a penny to the poor for God while in good health, it will be worth 240 pennies after [his or her] death.  To give a penny in sickness is worth 20 pennies.  To bequeath money after death, that is worth a leaden penny, because there is no great value in giving what one cannot hold on to.


Document #2

Source: Town council, resolution, Dijon, France, 1482


In order to care for the poor begging creatures and the poor children who go shrieking at night throughout this city, we will rent at the city’s cost a barn or other place to put them for the night and to care for them as well as possible.


Document #3

Source: Juan Luis Vives, Spanish humanist, On Assistance to the Poor, Bruges, Spanish Netherlands, 1526.


When the general funds have been expended, those without means of subsistence are driven to robbery in the city and on the highways; others commit theft stealthily.  Women of eligible years put modesty aside and, no longer holding to chastity, putit on sale.  Old women run brothels and then take up sorcery.  Children of the needy receive a deplorable upbringing.  Together with their offspring, the poor are shut out of the churches and wander over the land.  We do not know by what law the poor live, nor what their practices or beliefs are.


Some know that they have a duty of charity to the poor, yet they do not perform what has been commanded.  Others are repelled by the unworthiness of the applicants.  Still others withdraw because their good intention is embarrassed by the great number, and they are uncertain where first or most effectively to bestow their money.


Document #4

Source: Emperor Charles V, imperial decree for the Netherlands, 1531


Experience shows that if begging for alms (charity) is permitted to everyone indiscriminately, many errors and abuses will result, for they will fall into idleness, which is the beginning of all evils.  They and their children will abandon their trade or occupation for a wicked and contemptible life and condemn their daughters to poverty, unhappiness, and all manner of wickedness, and vice.  Above all, those who are poor and sick, and other indigents unable to earn a living, should receive food and sustenance, to the glory of God, our Savior, and according to His will.


Document #5

Source: Town council, meeting minutes, Rouen, France, 1542

-Those who are unwilling to work should indeed be expelled from the city, but those who are simply unable to find work should not be treated thus.  Instead, they should be put to work on sites in the city in exchange for food until such time as they succeed in finding work in their trades.

-Idleness is harmful to the public good and should not be tolerated.  Idlers should not be considered as poor.

-Before expelling the poor from the city we must consider whether our defensive capacity would not suffer from such a measure.  After all, it is the people, and not the judges and the councilors who will fight if the need arises.


Document #6

Source: Poorhouse regulations, Suffolk County, England, 1588


Every strong rogue, at his or her first entrance into the house, shall have 12 stripes with the whip on the bare skin and every young rogue or idle loiterer shall have 6 stripes in the same manner.  All unruly and stubborn persons shall e corrected oftener and given heavier shackles, a thinner diet, and harder labor until they are brought to reasonable obedience and submission to the master of the poorhouse.


Document #7

Source: Jean Maillefer, wealthy merchant, letter to his children, Reims, France, 1674


I have heard the poor talk and learned that those who have grown accustomed to this life cannot leave it.  They have no cares, pay no rents or taxes, have no losses to fear.  They are independent, they warm themselves by the sun, sleep and laugh as long as they like, are at home everywhere, have the sky for a blanket, the earth for a mattress.  In a word, they have no worries.

POV Football
  • POV