Locations for Children: school and orphanages in Bergamo and Bologna in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Christopher Carlsmith


This essay briefly reviews the essential historiography of the history of childhood, especially that in the English language, before turning to examples of schools and orphanages in Bergamo and Bologna. The Caspi Academy of Bergamo, founded 1547 as a private elementary boarding school, and a pedagogical treatise published by schoolmaster Giovita Ravizza in Venice in 1551, represent two brief case studies that show the surprising range of education in sixteenth-century northern Italy. For orphanages, the Orphanage of S. Martino in Bergamo, founded 1532 by the Venetian patrician Girolamo Miani, provided destitute children with housing, education, and career training. A second example is the Collegio Panolini of Bologna, endowed in 1585 by a wealthy silk merchant, named Francesco Panolini, and realized in 1632. This small residential college was created specifically for orphans, and offered sixteen years of training, culminating in a university degree and/or an ecclesiastical position with the Catholic Church. Children faced a multitude of dangers and obstacles in early modern Italy; while schools and orphanages were far from perfect, they did offer a safe haven to keep children off the streets and out of danger.   


schools; orphans; Bergamo; Bologna; history of childhood

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1970-2221/6709

Copyright (c) 2017 Christopher Carlsmith

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