The Kindness of Strangers: Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance

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9780713990195: The Kindness of Strangers: Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance

In The Kindness of Strangers, John Boswell argues persuasively that child abandonment was a common and morally acceptable practice from antiquity until the Renaissance. Using a wide variety of sources, including drama and mythological-literary texts as well as demographics, Boswell examines the evidence that parents of all classes gave up unwanted children, "exposing" them in public places, donating them to the church, or delivering them in later centuries to foundling hospitals. The Kindness of Strangers presents a startling history of the abandoned child that helps to illustrate the changing meaning of family.

CONTENTS

Pt. I: Ancient Patterns

Rome: the historical skeleton
Rome: Literary flesh and blood
Fathers of the church and parents of children

Pt. II: The Early Middle Ages
Variations on familiar patterns
A Christian innovation: oblation
Demographic overview

Pt. III: The High Middle Ages
New demographics: 1000-1200
Oblation at its zenith
The thirteenth century: abandonment resumes
Literary witnesses

Pt. IV: The Later Middle Ages
Continuities and unintended tragedy

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Boswell, John
Published by Allen Lane (1989)
ISBN 10: 0713990198 ISBN 13: 9780713990195
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Boswell, John
Published by Allen Lane (1989)
ISBN 10: 0713990198 ISBN 13: 9780713990195
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