Childhood During The English Renaissance

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Childhood During the English Renaissance

In the 16th century, the English life style was dramatically affected by the renaissance. Because more than half of England's population was under 25 years of age, children were a primary focus in life. The form and quality of a child's education varied according to the economic and social status of the family, sex of the child, the expectations of their parents, and the availability of the schooling.

At age seven, children were thought to be capable of being instructed. Childhood was also thought to begin at age seven and end at age fourteen. Children under seven years of age were still considered infants and were under the complete care of women. ("Encyclopedia" 417) In some cases, children under fourteen were able to commit adult crimes. On the other side of the legal system, however, some young men were forced to bear arms as young as nine years old.

In the 16th century, children did not become adults when they reached a certain age. Adulthood only came when a child's father went before a judge and legally granted his child their independence. (Malvasi "Renaissance") A father would normally do this when his child was in their early teens to their late twenties. In some cases, boys were emancipated as young as nine years of age. ("Encyclopedia" 417)

It was not uncommon for families to have twelve to fifteen children. In rich households, many servants did all of the housework. In poor households, children took care of all of the chores. (Marzalek "Life") Normally, the older children took part in watching the younger children. The rest of the daily chores were split evenly among all of the children.

Because there were not any super markets in this time period, all meals had to be prepared from scratch. Normally this was the girls' job. Young women also helped their mothers with the needlework. (Marzalek "Life") They created blankets, mattresses, pillow cases, and the

family's clothing.

The young men of the family assisted their father in hunting for the family's next meal. They usually caught cod, shrimp, crabs, oysters, sausage, pigeons, ducks, blackbirds or anything else they could find before meal time. (Marzalek "Life") The younger boys often ran around picking up feathers to fill pillows and mattresses.

In the 16th century, medical technology was not nearly as advanced as it is today. Which made children extremely susceptible to disease and death. Even in the most privileged of households, several children may die in their early years of childhood.
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