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Mothers and Wet-nurses

  • Rudolf Dekker
Chapter
Part of the Early Modern History: Society and Culture book series

Abstract

One of the arguments justifying the black legend of childhood is that maternal love was virtually non-existent until the nineteenth century. Historians based this conclusion on the hiring of wet-nurses to suckle infants. Since the Middle Ages, the wet-nurse had undeniably been a widespread phenomenon, especially in Italy, France and England. Among the elite but also among artisans in the cities, it was not unusual for newborns to be placed with a wet-nurse. These women were often farmers’ wives, who kept the children for one or two years.1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Valerie Fildes, Wet Nursing. A History from Antiquity to the Present (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988);Google Scholar
  2. Sara F. Matthews Grieco, ‘Breastfeeding, Wet Nursing and Infant Mortality in Europe (1400–1800)’, in Historical Perspectives on Breastfeeding. Two Essays by Sara E Matthews Grieco and Carlo A. Corsini (Florence: UNICEF International Child Development Centre, 1991) pp. 15–63.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Olwen Hufton, The Prospect before Her. A History of Women in Western Europe (London: HarperCollins, 1995).Google Scholar
  4. Cf. Stephen Wilson, ‘The Myth of Motherhood a Myth: the Historical View of European Child-Rearing’, Social History 9 (1984) pp. 181–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 3.
    Tessa van den Esschert, ‘Minnen onbemind? De positie van minnen in Nederland van 1600 tot 1900’, Skript 13 (1991) pp. 97–105. Els Kloek, Giesela van Oostveen and Nicole Teeuwen (eds), Volkscultuur 8 (1991) nr3.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Leendert F. Groenendijk, ‘Pietisten en borstvoeding’, Pedagogisch Tijdschrift/Forum voor Opvoedkunde 1 (1976) pp. 583–90.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Van Beverwijck, Wercken, p. 211. Cf. A.A. Helvetius, Verhandeling van som-mige zaken, die tot de opvoeding der eerst- en jonggeborene kinderen, zoo binnen als buiten de kraamkamers, opzigt hebben, gedaan in de 45e maan-delijksche genees- en heelkundige bijeenkomst binnen Middelburg, in Zeeland, op Vrijdag den 4 Julij 1738 (Middelburg: s.n., 1738?), cited in H. van Dijk and D.J. Roorda, Het patriciaat in Zierikzee tijdens de Republiek (Archief. Mededelingen van het Koninklijk Zeeuwsch Genootschap der Wetenschappen) (Middelburg, 1980) p. 27.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Marijke Barend-van Haeften, Oost-Indië gespiegeld. Nicolaas de Graaff, een schrijvend chrurgijn in dienst van de VOC (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 1992) pp. 144–5.Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    H.F.K. van Nierop, Van ridders tot regenten. De Hollandse adel in de zestiende en de eerste helft van de zeventiende eeuw (s.l.: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1984) pp. 73–4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek BV 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf Dekker
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of History and ArtErasmus University RotterdamThe Netherlands

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