THE ORPHANS OF BYZANTIUM
- [SVS is inviting everybody to explore poverty issues without any reference to the Orthodox Church's long history of concern for "the widow, the orphan and the stranger".
We've previously mentioned THE BIRTH OF THE HOSPITAL IN THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE by Timothy S. Miller. Below is Amazon's description of another book by the same author -
THE ORPHANS OF BYZANTIUM]
Among the controversial issues in America today is the debate over how best
to care for abandoned and neglected children. Largely absent from the debate,
however, is any discussion of past practices. In this book, historian Timothy
Miller argues that it is necessary to look at the history of orphanages, of
their successes and failures, and of their complex roles as social institutions
for unwanted and homeless children.
In The Orphans of Byzantium, Miller provides a perceptive and original study
of the evolution of orphanages in the Byzantine Empire. Contrary to popular
belief and even expert opinion, medieval child-welfare systems were
sophisticated, especially in the Byzantine world. Combining ancient Roman legal
institutions with Christian concepts of charity, the Byzantine Empire evolved a
child-welfare system that tried either to select foster parents for homeless
children or to place them in group homes that could provide food, shelter, and
education. Miller discusses how successive Byzantine emperors tried to improve
Roman regulations to provide greater security for orphans, and notes that they
achieved their greatest success when they widened the pool of potential
guardians by allowing women relatives to accept the duties of guardianship.
After a thorough discussion of each element of the Byzantine child care
system, the book closes by showing how Byzantine orphanages provided models for
later Western group homes, especially in Italy. From these renaissance orphan
asylums evolved the system of modern European and American religious orphanages
until the foster care movement emerged at the beginning of the twentieth
century. Miller’s study of these systems can provide useful models for reforming
the troubled child-welfare system today.
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