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Adoption and Fosterage Practices in Mediterranean Space (Fifteenth–Sixteenth Centuries)

Thu, March 22, 11:00am to 12:30pm, Harrah's Hotel, 2nd Level - Satchmo Room


The paper will focus on the functions of ‘substitute parenthood’ assumed by charitable institutions, and on the role played by them as a ‘spiritual family’, as a space for children’s education and their inclusion into labour market. It will trace the life events of the foundlings, as they transitioned from childhood into youth, to examine the peculiar kind of relationship and feelings that arose between them and their familia, that is, the hospital community. Thanks to the previous analysis of the hospital documentation, it will be possible to sketch and show an historical and archival ‘panorama’ on the childhood and labour market in the Renaissance period, based on the comparison of three main urban contexts of the western Mediterranean space: Barcelona, Florence, and Naples. Cities where, between the 15th and 16th centuries, many practices of fosterage, forms of apprenticeship, placement or true adoption, are amply documented.


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