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Medieval Children - Orme, Nicholas - Yale University Press

History
Psychology


Medieval Children

  • Nicholas Orme
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Named one of the top ten books of 2001 by Christianity Today

What was childhood like for medieval boys and girls in England? How were children named and brought up, what hazards faced them, what games did they play, and how were they prepared for adulthood? This richly detailed book provides for the first time a complete history of childhood in England from about the year 1000 to the sixteenth century.

Leading medieval historian Nicholas Orme draws together a vast range of sources and disciplines—history, literature, religion, and art—to create a picture of medieval childhood more comprehensive than ever before. Beginning with pregnancy and childbirth, Orme explores the succeeding stages of a child’s growth to adulthood. He discusses baptism, the significance of birthdays and ages, and family life, including upbringing, food, clothes, sleep, and the plight of the poor. He also chronicles the misfortunes of childhood, from disablement, abuse, and accidents to illness and death. In a fascinating review of the special culture of children, the author describes their rhymes, toys, and games; their religion and relationship to the Church; and their learning to read the literature for children. The final chapter of the book explains how adolescents grew up and entered the adult world.

In this vivid recreation of childhood in the middle ages, Orme underscores the importance medieval society attached to childhood. Childhood was clearly regarded as a distinct cultural period in life, and children were considered both special and different from adults.

Nicholas Orme is professor of history at Exeter University. He is coauthor of The English Hospital, 1070-1570, published by Yale University Press.

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