This project will study poor relief in an integrated way in three towns in the Southern Low Countries from circa 1300 to 1600 (Ghent, Mechelen and Bergues/Sint-Winoksbergen), in order to examine how, through poor relief schemes, urban communities of solidarity were shaped. I will analyze which communities were implied or shaped when it was regulated and decided who could profit from poor relief, and how this changed in the long run. Who had access to relief systems (and who did not) and what community thereby served as a frame of reference? Which social boundaries were created (and by whom)? Was increasing social fragmentation reflected in a fragmentation of poor relief, or was there a shift from local and particular communities to the whole city in the fifteenth and sixteenth century?