Vagrancy (people)  

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Lazarillo de Tormes (1808-12) by Francisco de Goya "Before the blind man could withdraw his long nose that was choking Lazarillo, his "stomach revolted and discharged the stolen goods in his face, so that his nose and that hastily chewed sausage left (Lazarillo's) mouth at the same time".
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Lazarillo de Tormes (1808-12) by Francisco de Goya
"Before the blind man could withdraw his long nose that was choking Lazarillo, his "stomach revolted and discharged the stolen goods in his face, so that his nose and that hastily chewed sausage left (Lazarillo's) mouth at the same time".

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A vagrant is a person in a situation of poverty, who wanders from place to place without a home or regular employment or income. Many towns in the developed world have shelters for vagrants.

Vagrancy was a crime in some European countries, but most of these laws have been abandoned. Laws against vagrancy in the United States have partly been invalidated as violative of the due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. However, the FBI report on crime in the United States for 2005 lists 33,227 vagrancy violations. In legal terminology, a person with a source of income is not a vagrant, even if he/she is homeless.

History

In settled, ordered communities, vagrants have been historically characterised as outsiders, embodiments of otherness, objects of scorn or mistrust, or worthy recipients of help and charity. Some ancient sources show vagrants as passive objects of pity, who deserve generosity and the gift of alms. Others show them as subversives, or outlaws, who make a parasitical living through theft, fear and threat. Some fairy tales of medieval Europe have beggars cast curses on anyone who was insulting or stingy towards them. In Tudor England, some of those who begged door-to-door for "milk, yeast, drink, pottage" were thought to be witches. In some East Asian and South Asian countries.

Fiction and drama

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Vagrancy (people)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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