Foundlings in Medieval Lit?
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does anyone know some good sources (primary and secondary) for research on the foundling/abandoned child in medieval literature? i'm beginning from Le Fresne by Marie de France, but i'd love some more primary sources.
i haven't actually gotten to look at secondary sources yet, but ones i've found out about are a piece called The Case of the Female Foundling: Gender and Genre in Lai le Freine by Elizabeth Archibald in The Spirit of Medieval English Popular Romance (ed. Ad Putter and Jane Gilbert) and a book called The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance by John Boswell which seems to focus more on history/actual events rather than literature, but seems like it'd still be useful.
anyone have suggestions?
I'd suggest taking a look at Stith Thompson's Motif Index of Folk-Literature to start with; he should have a good list of abandoned child stories. (Not all of them will be from mediaeval Europe, but that's half the fun, sometimes)
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Sorry this is a bit late. An related concept is that of the belief in faires - in medieval England it was believed that the fairies sometimes abducted children and replaced them with a 'changeling'. A good introduction to this is Religion & the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas. He mentions several primary sources in his notes.
One resource on the web, in case you haven't already found it, is The Medieval Review. It has a search feature that is pretty helpful. Hope this helps.
In The History of William of Newburgh, there is the story of two green children found wandering, lost in England. They don't understand English, they won't eat "normal" foods without a lot of coaxing and ultimately, the little boy dies. The little girl, however, grows up, loses her green tinge and even marries. I believe the same story is also in Ralph of Coggeshall. Newburgh is easier to get hold of, however, and more "reliable" (Ralph was an inveterate liar).
I have queried a friend whose interests are closer than mine to children/ foundlings as a topic. If I hear from her, I will pass on suggestions. Beauregard
My friend is still looking but she sent me the following:
"I have heard some very interesting conference papers on adoption and
fostering in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but I don't know if they
were ever published. Sharon Farmer, Surviving Poverty in Medieval Paris:
Gender, Ideology and Daily Lives of the Poor. Cornell University
Press, 2002, has some interesting information about the abandonment/fostering/apprenticeship of children, especially with disabilities. Off hand
I don't know much about pucks and changelings in a scholarly way, but
I'll see." Re the latter, I had suggested that the folk tales about changelings might be a reflection of peasant fostering practices, which was prevalent, of c, among the upper classes. Sorry not to be of more help.
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