This chapter begins with a discussion of how illegitimacy was defined and discussed in early modern Europe, before exploring how children were cared for both within families and institutions. It highlights how attitudes towards illegitimacy interacted with social practice to shape the world of the illegitimate child. Illegitimacy was not particularly unusual between 1400 and 1700, with between one and five per cent of births occurring outside wedlock in Europe across the period. For some historians, the stigma of illegitimacy and its implications has been overstated. The late medieval Church’s response to illegitimacy reflected not only a desire to encourage chastity amongst the population, but reflected competing ideas about the inheritance of sin amongst theologians. Children born within such relationships did not have the same legal status as a legitimate child, but were generally raised within or alongside the family, receiving education, training, affection and care.