Tolerance, regulation and rescue

Dishonoured women and abandoned children in Italy, 1300-1800

By Brian Pullan

Tolerance, regulation and rescue


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9129-6
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: June 2016
  • BIC Category: History, Social & cultural history, Italy, European history, HISTORY / Europe / Italy, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Modern History, HISTORY / Social History


Looking at Catholic charity and social policy in past times, this book focuses on 'unrespectable' women and children in Italy, and their treatment at the hands of charities and the law. It looks at prostitutes and women engaged in sexual relationships outside formal marriage, and foundlings, many of whom were abandoned because they were born out of wedlock.

A wide-ranging synoptic survey, this study considers the practical complications and consequences of communities' decisions to accommodate and regulate activities considered bad but irrepressible: of the belief that licensed prostitution and controlled abandonment could be used to avert greater evils, from sodomy and adultery to infanticide and abortion. Accessibly written, Tolerance, regulation and rescue discusses social problems which are still the subject of debate, and should appeal not only to academics and students, but also to general readers.


'Tolerance, Regulation and Rescue is an extremely helpful overview of its subjects for early modern Italy. It will stand as a model for similar efforts for other regions.'
Thomas J. Kuehn, Clemson University, H-Italy January 2019


1. Women of lost honour
2. Prostitution, sin and the law
3. Prostitutes, courtesans and public morality
4. Extenuation and rescue
5. Penitent sinners
6. Women and girls in danger
7. Foundlings and orphans: an introduction
8. Natural and spurious infants: abandonment and other choices
9. Abandonment, reception and infant mortality
10. Fostering and adoption
11. Foundlings and society


Brian Pullan is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Manchester

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