History of Childhood

Essay by menadochka December 2006

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"Who has never been a child, will never be an adult."

Charles Chaplin

The Evolution of Childhood

Being upbrought with a different degree of care and love, some of us hardly imagine, that several centuries ago people were not so lucky to enjoy parents' attention, many toys and other children's advantages. To make sure of this and to see how the concept of childhood was developing, let us go back into the time from Early to High Middle Ages (around V-XIII centuries).

Childhood was missing during the medieval time, as well as its social idea. Children seemed to people malicious creatures that were spreading diseases. In the eyes of parents and society they were bearers of evil which was supposed to be eliminated by, for example, beating or giving enemas. It was considered that by the age of seven years old a child masters all secrets of human speech, and the Catholic Church, at the same time, thought that by this age he or she starts to be able to distinguish between good and evil.

The evidence of no childhood in the Middle Ages can also be proved by demography. At the time of poor medicine most of children were doomed to death, and people lacked a psychological mechanism of sensibility to children. Until the time children were not grown and did not prove their viability, they simply did not arouse any interest or attention of their parents [5].

There is also historical evidence of the fact that in Europe up to the 1700s, the son of an artisan or craftsperson often left his home and family to join another household as an apprentice to begin training for a craft. Even if the father was a master craftsman himself, he very rarely apprenticed his own children. Very few craft enterprises...