Children in the Middle Ages

Many babies did not survive their first year with up to 50 per cent succumbing to a fatal illness. Even if you survived this you were not out of danger; as many as 40 per cent lost their lives before they were 9 years old.

A child’s life and the way they were raised varied greatly whether from wealthy or poor parentage.

Poorer Families

Children were raised by their parents and therefore formed a stronger bond with their parents because of this. As they grew, everything they learnt would be from their parents.

From around 7 years of age, the children became responsible for more duties within the family. The girls were taught domestic duties including running the household, cooking and sewing. The boys were taught husbandry (management of their resources and property, growing crops and raising livestock).

Some peasant children at about 12 years of age were moved out of the family home and into the home of their future employer or master.

Wealthy Families

Many servants were employed to look after and raise wealthy children, including a Wet Nurse, Nursemaid and later on Tutors. The parents themselves had little contact with their children, and any bond built would be between the child and the servants, not the parents.

At 7 years of age a formal education began for boys. They were taught skills in arms, and reading and writing. Girls were only taught domestic duties and few ever learnt to read and write.

Girls were able to marry from 12 years of age and boys from 14, however this was rare and this time was spent on improving their education.

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