The Unwanted Child: The Fate Of Foundlings, Orphans, And Juvenile Criminals In Early Modern Germany

Paperback | September 25, 2013

byJoel F. Harrington

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The baby abandoned on the doorstep is a phenomenon that has virtually disappeared from our experience, but in the early modern world, unwanted children were a very real problem for parents, government officials, and society. The Unwanted Child skillfully recreates sixteenth-century Nuremberg to explore what befell abandoned, neglected, abused, or delinquent children in this critical period.

Joel F. Harrington tackles this question by focusing on the stories of five individuals. In vivid and poignant detail, he recounts the experiences of an unmarried mother-to-be, a roaming mercenary who drifts in and out of his children’s lives, a civic leader handling the government’s response to problems arising from unwanted children, a homeless teenager turned prolific thief, and orphaned twins who enter state care at the age of nine. Braiding together these compelling portraits, Harrington uncovers and analyzes the key elements that link them, including the impact of war and the vital importance of informal networks among women. From the harrowing to the inspiring, The Unwanted Child paints a gripping picture of life on the streets five centuries ago.

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The baby abandoned on the doorstep is a phenomenon that has virtually disappeared from our experience, but in the early modern world, unwanted children were a very real problem for parents, government officials, and society. The Unwanted Child skillfully recreates sixteenth-century Nuremberg to explore what befell abandoned, neglected,...

Joel F. Harrington is professor of history and associate provost for global strategy at Vanderbilt University. His books include Reordering Marriage and Society in Reformation Germany.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:456 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.3 inPublished:September 25, 2013Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022610205X

ISBN - 13:9780226102054

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Note on Usage

Acknowledgments

INTRODUCTION

ONE / The Unmarried Mother

TWO / The Absconding Father

THREE / The Beleaguered Magistrate

FOUR / The Street Orphan

FIVE / The State Wards

SIX / From Micro- to Macro-: Individuals and the Big Picture

Appendix 1 / The Findelkinder Database

Appendix 2 / Known Infanticides in Nuremberg, 1384–1806

List of Abbreviations

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Harrington defines the subject of the book as “child circulation.” This concept is sufficiently flexible to allow a range of otherwise anachronistically defined phenomena to be examined (e.g., different forms of child abandonment; active and passive infanticides; formal, informal, forced, and voluntary fostering, etc.) and ensures that attention is paid to both institutions and individuals. While the focus of the study is the German city of Nuremberg from the 1550s to the 1670s, the author’s detailed knowledge of early modern Germany and the early modern historiography on related subjects enables him to present an analysis that has relevance to the developments across early modern Europe. . . . The Unwanted Child is thoroughly researched and the book engages the reader like a good novel. Harrington’s skillful and sensitive approach to the vast source material allows him to present an exceptional book and a series of fascinating observations. This book will benefit any early modernist and scholars who are interested in the history of childhood, youth, and the family.”