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The practice of Fostering

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  • Natalie W.
    Greetings, I am looking for some documentation about the practice of fostering offspring in the early to high middle ages (unless there is evidence the
    Message 1 of 7 , Mar 17, 2008
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      Greetings,

      I am looking for some documentation about the practice of fostering offspring in the early to high middle ages (unless there is evidence the practice continued into the later middle ages????).
      I understand the that the Irish and Scottish clans often fostered their youngsters to relatives and other clans and kinsfolk until about the age of 14 but other than the idea of fostering showing up in stories and song, where else might it be documented? Was fostering something the nobility did? Or did peasants do it too? Other than tradition, what was the purpose of fostering one's children to other families? How widespread was fostering? Any and all suggestions on where to find data on the medieval practice of fostering offspring would be helpful.

      thank you,

      ariadne

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • quokkaqueen
      I know that there is mention of fostered children in the Icelandic sagas, but I m not sure if there s any contemporary Viking-age mention of them. There is
      Message 2 of 7 , Mar 18, 2008
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        I know that there is mention of fostered children in the Icelandic
        sagas, but I'm not sure if there's any contemporary Viking-age mention
        of them. There is also mention of the legal status of fostering in the
        12th century Grágás ('grey-goose' laws.)

        R. Chartrand et al. "The Vikings" (Osprey Publishing, 2006)
        ISBN 1846030870
        says:

        Page 35
        'Young children or adolescents could be sent to live in a separate
        household. Such arrangements did not normally exceed the boundaries of
        the clan, the most common form of fostering being to an uncle.'

        Page 36
        'In the household of their foster-parent, the duties of a young male
        would be identical to those of a son by birth -- including training
        for war.'

        Peter Parkes "Fostering Fealty: A Comparative Analysis of Tributary
        Allegiances of Adoptive Kinship" _Comparative Studies of Society and
        History_ Volume 45, Issue 04, October 2003, pp 741-782
        http://www.kent.ac.uk/anthropology/department/staff/parkes/Parkes2003.pdf

        From page 753 onwards also mentions foster-children in Scandinavia,
        but the article also seems full of information about other cultures too!
        In fact, Parkes' staff webpage at the University of Kent has a few
        articles about kinship, adoption and fostering that might be helpful:
        http://www.kent.ac.uk/anthropology/department/staff/parkes.html

        I hope this information is useful,
        ~Asfridhr
        --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "Natalie W." <equigal_99@...> wrote:
        <<snip>>
        > I am looking for some documentation about the practice of fostering
        offspring in the early to high middle ages
        <<snip>>
      • Heather Rose Jones
        ... I would be quite startled if there _weren t_ material on fosterage in the medieval Irish law tracts. I know that foster relationships get mentioned
        Message 3 of 7 , Mar 18, 2008
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          On Mar 17, 2008, at 2:12 PM, Natalie W. wrote:

          > Greetings,
          >
          > I am looking for some documentation about the practice of fostering
          > offspring in the early to high middle ages (unless there is
          > evidence the practice continued into the later middle ages????).
          > I understand the that the Irish and Scottish clans often fostered
          > their youngsters to relatives and other clans and kinsfolk until
          > about the age of 14 but other than the idea of fostering showing up
          > in stories and song, where else might it be documented? Was
          > fostering something the nobility did? Or did peasants do it too?
          > Other than tradition, what was the purpose of fostering one's
          > children to other families? How widespread was fostering? Any and
          > all suggestions on where to find data on the medieval practice of
          > fostering offspring would be helpful.

          I would be quite startled if there _weren't_ material on fosterage in
          the medieval Irish law tracts. I know that foster relationships get
          mentioned regularly in the Irish annals. Medieval Welsh annals and
          similar historiographic material also mention fosterage
          relationships, especially when they influenced political events. The
          common accusation in Wales was that men would be more loyal to their
          foster brothers than to their blood-siblings -- and this building of
          a network of loyalties seems to have been intended as a feature
          rather than a bug.

          Tangwystyl
        • asackville@juno.com
          I must agree with Tangwystyl here, (sorry if the spelling is incorrect, it s very late and my Welsh is lamentably sad). Foster ties have often been said to out
          Message 4 of 7 , Mar 18, 2008
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            I must agree with Tangwystyl here, (sorry if the spelling is incorrect, it's very late and my Welsh is lamentably sad). Foster ties have often been said to out last blood ties by many generations. Given time I can find references in Irish literature.

            Fionnuala

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            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • mary_m_haselbauer
            I ve been researching medieval children quite a bit lately. Here s a great little book chapter on Child Centered Law in Medieval Ireland that has quite a bit
            Message 5 of 7 , Mar 19, 2008
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              I've been researching medieval children quite a bit lately. Here's a
              great little book chapter on Child Centered Law in Medieval Ireland
              that has quite a bit about fostering.
              http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/3812/01/Child2-Centred_Law.pdf
              My primary interest has been the material culture of children so I
              was tickled to see that these laws require not only food, shelter and
              clothing but that fostered children get toys too.

              A couple of other good books about children in England are Medieval
              Children by Nicholas Orme and Growing up in Medieval London by
              Barbara Hanawalt. However, these use evidence mostly from the later
              Middle Ages. I can't remember off the top of my head how much the
              mention fosterage but these are the big names in perios research on
              children.

              When I was trying to research medieval adoption a useful book was The
              kindness of strangers : the abandonment of children in Western Europe
              from late antiquity to the Renaissance by John Boswell. Again, I
              can't remember exact mentions of fosterage but the impression I got
              was that a lot of children were raised by someone not their birth
              parents.

              Cheers,
              Slaine
            • Natalie W.
              Thanks for this an the other suggestions for documentation. Based on your reading, does fostering occur throughout the classes or is it just for nobility? The
              Message 6 of 7 , Mar 19, 2008
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                Thanks for this an the other suggestions for documentation.

                Based on your reading, does fostering occur throughout the classes or is it just for nobility?

                The info in Ireland seems to indicate fostering had a clan tradition in medieval Eire, is that right?

                thanks

                ariadne
              • mary_m_haselbauer
                Another book by Barbara Hanawalt you might try is The Ties the Bind: Peasant families in medieval England. I d think that in an agrarian economy children s
                Message 7 of 7 , Mar 20, 2008
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                  Another book by Barbara Hanawalt you might try is The Ties the Bind:
                  Peasant families in medieval England. I'd think that in an agrarian
                  economy children's work would be too valuable to a family to send them
                  away. Her Medieval London book spent a good bit of time talking about
                  apprenticeships which could maybe be a form of fosterage.

                  Part of the reason I stopped researching adoption is that record is so
                  messy and inconsistant through time and place. I didn't have the time
                  to devote to really getting into sources. (I have a good excuse too.
                  That's about when my daughter came into my life through adoption.)

                  I'm sorry I can't remember more specifics to answer your questions.

                  Slaine


                  --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "Natalie W." <equigal_99@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > Thanks for this an the other suggestions for documentation.
                  >
                  > Based on your reading, does fostering occur throughout the classes or
                  is it just for nobility?
                  >
                  > The info in Ireland seems to indicate fostering had a clan tradition
                  in medieval Eire, is that right?
                  >
                  > thanks
                  >
                  > ariadne
                  >
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