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

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