What the charity of the Middle Ages has to teach Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg

Paul Vallely CMG FRSA
Tuesday, 2 March 2021 - 7:00pm


*Cathedral Lecture*

The charity of the Middle Ages was misleadingly dismissed as haphazard and self-serving after the Reformation.  But the most recent research shows that this was not the case.  Extensive charitable provision to care for the poor and needy was in place in 1421 when Henry V and Pope Martin granted a licence for the establishment in Manchester of the collegiate church of St Mary, St Denys and St George which went on to become Manchester Cathedral.  More than that, this medieval charity had characteristics which have been lost in much philanthropy today.

Paul Vallely, an honorary ecumenical canon of Manchester Cathedral, and author of the highly-acclaimed ‘Philanthropy – from Aristotle to Zuckerberg’, will give the first in a series of lectures to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the foundation of the cathedral.  In his illustrated talk he will set out the extent and nature of medieval charity – and why it came to be traduced by propagandists after the Reformation.  At the core of a thousand years of the charity of Christendom, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, was a vision of society from which Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and today’s other Big Givers would do well to learn.



About the speaker

Paul Vallely is a writer and consultant on religion,  international development, and business ethics.

He is the author of the internationally-acclaimed best-selling biography Pope Francis - Untying the Knots and its sequel Pope Francis - The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism.  His latest book - Philanthropy - from Aristotle to Zuckerberg - from which this lecture gets its name, was published on the 17 September 2020.

He is Visiting Professor in Public Ethics and Media at the University of Chester and Senior Honorary Fellow at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester.  He has worked in newspapers, broadcasting, with aid agencies, government and church organisations for more than two decades. He has produced award-winning reports from more than 30 countries in the developing world.



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Event image: detail of a miniature from a 15th century manuscript entitled ‘Le Livre des faits de Monseigneur Saint Louis’, in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris - Photo by Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images.