By Rachel G. Fuchs
Booklet by way of Fuchs, Rachel G.
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Extra resources for Abandoned children: foundlings and child welfare in nineteenth-century France
The moralists of the Counter-Reformation saw the family as one of the privileged places of Christian life, extolled the virtues of married life, and condemned concubinage. The attitudes toward illegitimate children reflected this condemnation Page 7 nation of children born of adultery or relations without benefit of marriage by the clergy. Only married couples were deemed suitable to bring up children, for they had the ties of kinship that permitted children to become integrated into society. Catholic charity of the Counter-Reformation, both to prevent infanticide and to protect the innocent infant, fostered the care of illegitimate foundlings.
George Alter, James Diehl, Theresa McBride, George Sussman and Dena Targ have each read the manuscript, or chapters of it, in one of its many draft forms. To them, and to the anonymous reviewers for the press, I am grateful for all criticisms and suggestions. Naturally, I take all responsibility for any errors. Cynthia FitzSimons deserves a special praise for patiently and painstakingly typing the manuscript and for taking such a helpful interest in the book. I am grateful to Daniel P. Bailey, Catherine Christie, and Daniel M.
Most authorities agree, therefore, that poverty was the prime motive for abandoning legitimate children. Many members of the rural poor, who always lived on the brink of destitution, were able to survive in good times. An economic disaster, such as a period of several years of high prices and grain shortages, was sufficient to push them over the line to indigence. " Those suffering from "structural" poverty were too poor to support themselves even under ideal economic situations. A mother in abject or ''structural" poverty, suffering malnutrition, would have had insufficient milk with which to nurse her baby and would have had to feed the infant by allowing it to suck on a rag dipped in water or milk, neither of which would be clean.