First few Article Sentences
In the final act of Leoš Janáček’s Czech opera Její pastorkyna, the body of a baby appears under the melting spring ice, disrupting the wedding of Laca and Jenufa. The nineteenth century Moravian village responds by punishing Jenufa’s stepmother, Kostelnica, for her heinous crime of infanticide. This tragic yet fitting end to Kostelnica, while seemingly boorish, serves as a reminder that within this small Central European village, there was a moral compass.
The historical frequency of infanticide is disturbing yet well documented. Writings before the fourth century include hundreds of references to infanticide of both legitimate and illegitimate children, actions that did not violate the law or public opinion. The fate of these children included river drowning, tossed into trenches or just left on the roadside or in the wilderness. Between the fourth and thirteenth centuries children faced institutional abandonment for months or even years, and the sale of children endured lawfully in Europe until the nineteenth century.
Along the way enlightenment in seventeenth century Europe shifted the child’s role. Adults recognized children were separate entities, albeit innocent, yet still in need of protection and education in society. While the child’s historical path has not always been linear, today social media replaced coal mines, and modern day’s version of enlightenment combines over-protection with a touch of self-entitlement, many of whom apprentice under the influence of an influencer.