Children in the Middle Ages by Daniele Alexandre-Bidon, Didier Lett
What can we know of the children of the European Middle Ages? Until recently, it was commonly thought that a history of the everyday life of children could not be written: since children were of little interest to medieval adults, documentation on childhood was rare and fragmentary. According to some, the concept of childhood, concern for education, and love of children are all relatively recent phenomena in the West. Daniele Alexandre-Bidon and Didier Lett challenge these assumptions in this learned and lively book. Drawing from a wide range of sources-iconography, archaeological finds, letters, romances, pedagogical texts, miracle accounts, law codes-they reconstruct the actual life of medieval children at work and at play, in the fields, the streets, the schools, the apprenticeships, and the castles.
Children of the Middle Ages portrays medieval childhood at all levels of European medieval society, from the peasant girl who longed to read, to the apprentice scribe doodling pictures on the margins of the manuscript he copied, to the future duke of Berry whose bedroom was redecorated twice a year, changing at Easter from red to green, the color of spring. The authors consider children's roles in the family and social institutions, their emotional and educational environment, and their symbolism in Christianity. They demonstrate that despite often difficult living conditions, the great majority of children were surrounded by family affection. They also demonstrate the misery of orphaned and abandoned children, the ravages of disease and war, and the exploitation of children as slaves and beggars. Children of the Middle Ages is a vivid history of how medieval children lived and died.
About the Author:
Daniele Alexandre-Bidon is Fellow at the University Lumiere-Lyon II and co-author of A reveiller les morts: La mort au quotidien dans l'Occident medieval. Didier Lett is Assistant Professor in Medieval History at the University Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and author of Enfances et familles sous le regard de l'Eglise XIIe-XIVe centuries.