Death Control in the West: New Research on Routine Infanticide in Northern Italy, 16th–18th Centuries

Friday, January 5, 2018: 9:10 AM
Columbia 3 (Washington Hilton)
Gregory Hanlon, Dalhousie University
This paper presents new work on routine infanticide based on a large database of baptismal records and status animarum censuses drawn from three large parishes near Piacenza, from the sixteenth to the first half of the eighteenth century. It confirms patterns found elsewhere that during subsistance crises parents frequently sacrificed newborn girls before having them baptized; but the spread of silk-spinning on a massive scale entailed that in calmer times, the boys were more vulnerable. Like elsewhere in the West, parents of different social classes were ready to sacrifice newborn children (death control) of either sex, legal and religious interdicts notwithstanding.
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