Medieval Children by Nicholas Orme

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Synopsis

This is a history of children in England from Anglo-Saxon times to the 16th century. Starting at birth, it shows how they were named and baptised, and traces the significance of birthdays and ages. This leads to an account of family life, including upbringing, food, clothes, sleep and the plight of the poor. The misfortunes of childhood are chronicled, from disablement, abuse, and accidents to illness, death, and beliefs about children in the afterlife. Further chapters explore the oral culture of medieval children (words, rhymes, and songs), play, religion, learning to read, and literature for children. Finally, we see how they grew up, began to work, came of age, and experienced sexuality. The result is a vivid recreation of what it was like to be young, which reveals the central importance of children in English medieval history for the first time. The traditional view of a past in which there was no childhood is shown to lack any foundation. On the contrary, children were recognized as special and different, and possessed their own flourishing culture, much of it like that of young people today.
 

About Nicholas Orme

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Nicholas Orme is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is the author of many books, including Medieval Schools and Medieval Children.
 
Published December 1, 2001 by Yale University Press. 400 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Children's Books. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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Medieval Children Nicholas Orme 387pp, Yale, £29.95 When Katherine, the mute, disabled daughter of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, died in 1257 at the age of three, her mother fell ill with grief and could find no cure or consolation.

Sep 15 2001 | Read Full Review of Medieval Children

London Review of Books

That came first, but it was almost as important that he learn to read, again for liturgical purposes, and to learn Latin, the language of the Church and of the Bible.

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Project MUSE

He cites canon laws recognizing that children's moral responsibility began only at the age of twelve, and secular laws exempting children from adult punishment up until their teens.

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Project MUSE

35-43), he opens by quoting Cranmer's catechism of 1549, then he moves to an analysis of naming patterns in Anglo-Saxon royal families and the early distinction between monothematic and dithematic names, then he looks at the power of godparents in choosing the baptismal name, then at changing pat...

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Project MUSE

$39.95 Scholarly interest in the history of medieval childhood has not abated during the forty years since Ariès first published his history of childhood.

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