The Street Orphan

in The Unwanted Child

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226317274
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317298 | DOI:
The Street Orphan

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter analyzes the story of a homeless, orphaned teenager named Jörg Mayra. Though only “sixteen or seventeen” years old, the youth more commonly known as “the Little Castle Seventh” had already been arrested and banished several times and was notorious throughout the Franconian countryside as the most prolific juvenile thief in memory. The chapter addresses questions such as: How did things reach this point for Mayr? Where did he come from and why was he on the street in the first place? What was that life like for him and other vagrant youths? Most important, how was a wandering adolescent beggar transformed into a career criminal, “known throughout the land?” In exploring this type of informal child circulation, it is shown that some aspects of the Jörg's background and experience were common to many youths, regardless of residence or criminal activity.

Keywords: orphans; thieves; orphaned teenagers; youths; criminal activity

Chapter.  20269 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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