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, at their successes and failures, and at their complex roles as social institutions for unwanted and homeless children. In ""The Orphans of Byzantium"", Miller provides a perceptive study of the evolution of orphanages in the Byzantine empire. Contrary to popular belief, 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.
Timothy S. Miller is Professor of History at Salisbury University in Maryland. He has written or edited numerous books and articles on the Byzantine Empire, including The Birth of the Hospital in the Byzantine Empire and Peace and War in Byzantium.