Pater Kindergeneral und Janitscharenmusik

Österreichische Waisenhäuser der Frühen Neuzeit im Spannungsfeld von Arbeit, Erziehung und Religion


  • Martin Scheutz Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien



Orphanages in Habsburg monarchy, care for children in institution, disputes on orphanges (“Waisenhausstreit”), Enlightenment mercantilism


The century between 1650 and 1750 was often being considered as the “century of orphanages”, which is partly true for Habsburg monarchy. Founded by secular and religious power a small number of orphanages were established in the cities of Graz, Linz, Salzburg and Vienna. The institution emerged from the old civic hospital (Bürgerspital) but also from the early modern penitentiaries and workhouses. During the reign of Maria Theresa the reorganized state pushed a type of mercantile children institution which was initially close to manufactory. Due to failure of these theresian mercantilist institutions orphanages changed into a kind of breeding ground of military virtue which became discussed among the enlightened catholic and protestant scholars (Friedrich Nicolai and others). Children between the age of six and sixteen found shelter in this institutional halfway of workhouse, manufactory, school, monastery and penitentiary. The dispute on orphanages (“Waisenhausstreit”) in the 1760s raised economic, pedagogical and confessional questions. In the 1780s Joseph II decided to close the theresian orphanages and orphans were handed over to foster-parents. In the wake of this dispute working conditions for children were debated, but also education, school, and child care in general. The high mortality rates (orphanages as open burial shafts) turned out to be not the least point of discussion. Mid of 19th century saw the reinvention of institutional care for orphans – pendulum of arguments was swinging back.



Scheutz, M. (2014). Pater Kindergeneral und Janitscharenmusik: Österreichische Waisenhäuser der Frühen Neuzeit im Spannungsfeld von Arbeit, Erziehung und Religion. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften, 25(1-2), 41–81.