Children in the Middle Ages

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The middle ages were a time full of warfare, feudalism, and poverty which caused children to have to skip their childhood and help-out their family. Children raised during present day compared to the middle ages have it easy, childhood during the dark ages was much shorter and focused on work. One fourth of children died their first year living and one-sixth didn’t live to see their fourth birthday. Life went by fast back then, kids commonly married at 12 and 14. The average life expectancy was in the 40s, so they were expected to mature early and act as adults. Most Children didn’t get to experience the warm-hearted childhood that is common in present day.

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Children during the middle ages were expected to do adult tasks. Around the age of 7 boys were taken from home to begin training to be a knight or sire. Other children began working and doing household tasks. Children were usually expected to do things like feed livestock or farm animals, washing dished or caring for younger siblings. As the kids would reach their teens their workload would get heavier, it was even common that the teen would find a job as a servant in another household.

If you were even around the age of 7 and had younger siblings, you would have to help your mother take care of them and do other tasks around the house. As you can see the working lifestyle was very influenced on people all ages and during today people start doing household tasks or chores as teenagers. Life was already harsh among people back then due to the black plague, and most of the population going through poverty so I can only imagine how difficult times had to be.

A huge period of the population was poor during this period and this affected childhood matters. Peasants lived in small cottages that had small windows and were mostly dark, and adults often cut down their old clothes to make clothes for children. Everyone during the middle ages lacked electricity, indoor plumbing, central heating, air conditioning, telephones, and more things that we have now. If life was even this difficult for even the wealthy just imagine how hard it would be for a working peasant child.

Noble medieval children were mostly educated during training to become knights, it was mandatory for them to read and write to understand the code of chivalry. Poor medieval children’s only hope was to be educated by priest who taught them a basic understanding of how to read and write. There were some grammar schools in towns during the late medieval times going on to the renaissance were middle class children were given an education. Discipline was strictly maintained in the grammar schools and boys were often beaten. There were also some chantry schools where priests taught children how to read and write.

Medieval children were mostly illiterate. Most children didn’t go to school, only children with wealthy family went, and the ones that didn’t receive knowledge from word of mouth. Instead of school children would do tasks like scaring birds from fields and collecting eggs from chickens. The older age groups like teens would do more difficult tasks. Low class parents thought of school as a waste of time when there were more productive things to be done to help their parents.

The way children the way children lived was obviously determined by social and biological factors, however the biggest part of the population lived in poverty which greatly affected children’s childhood. The lifestyle from present day and the middle ages is very different, and the lifestyle that they lived gives me the conclusion that they really did not have a concept of childhood. Children during the middle ages simply had to mature too early. I feel as though everything during the dark ages were rushed, marriage, working, and life itself because of the life expectancy.

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Children in The Middle Ages. (2022, Oct 01). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from
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