Childhood: Am Early Modern View
The adult views and practices of upper English society towards children varied and changes over the course of the 16th through the 18th centuries. During the 16th century the Reformation influenced adults to view children as mean spirited and imperfect, which made adults strictly punish them. In the 17th century the Enlightenment allowed adults to see children as innocent at birth with the potential to become evil. Finally in the 18th century the Industrial Revolution viewed children as precious and young adults ready to be educated and given responsibilities. Over these three centuries the changes of adult views and practices toward children were shaped by religious, social, and economical events, especially the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution.
Beginning in the 16th century adult views and practices toward children were quite negative. Some saw children and bad and out of control. Robert Cleaver preached that children were: "Ã¢ÂÂ¦ way ward and impulsiveÃ¢ÂÂ¦ inclined to evilÃ¢ÂÂ¦ burn down the whole house."
(Doc. 1) He saw them as devious and destructive. Furthermore as a Calvinist minister, a leader of his congregation he believed in pre-destination; not surprisingly children were doomed to hell. Other individuals had similar view points. Lady Jane Grey recalled a miserable childhood: "Ã¢ÂÂ¦ Whether I speakÃ¢ÂÂ¦ be sewingÃ¢ÂÂ¦ or doing anything elseÃ¢ÂÂ¦ even so perfectly as God made the world." (Doc. 10) She had to be flawless in all she did. With these adult views translated into strict practices. Children were disciplined harshly through beating and restriction. Robert Cleaver also taught that children should have their limbs restricted when they did something incorrectly: "Ã¢ÂÂ¦ child be left-handedÃ¢ÂÂ¦ they bind it up, or otherwise restrict the use of it."
(Doc. 8) He saw the practice of being left-handed as out of place and...