Segments in this Video

Medieval Children (02:40)


Half the medieval population of Europe died before they turned 18. Medieval scholar Stephan Baxter is studying how the period was for children to get a different perspective.

Medieval Christianity (06:25)

In the Middle Ages, various tribes in England unified under one king and converted from paganism to Christianity. Finding salvation and avoiding the horrors of hell dominated life for all people. Children were exposed to Christian teachings as soon as possible.

Medieval Survival (05:55)

Most medieval families survived through farming on land owned by wealthy landlords. Though most medieval documents neglect to mention children, archaeologists in York found a graveyard for children. Poor nutrition made children significantly smaller than modern children and half died before they reached adulthood.

Medieval Work (04:19)

Children made up about half the population of medieval England; they were excepted to start working at a young age. Boys as young as 9 or 10 performed hard manual labor.

Medieval Childhood (04:31)

Many historians viewed childhood as a modern concept, but Baxter investigates information that debunks it as a myth. Scenes of children playing and childhood games appear in manuscripts and paintings from the period.

Medieval Law (03:55)

As more warring tribes united, codified laws became more common. Boys were seen as adults under the law at age 12 and were required to join tithing groups, a form of community policing.

Medieval Prosperity (06:55)

The growing population and increased demand for goods created a new social class of well-off landowners and merchants, known as the gentry. Many built manor houses and employed lower gentry and peasant boys. Servants were required to have proper manners in front of the lords.

Medieval Warfare (08:15)

Frequent wars between neighboring kingdoms and long conquests, like the Crusades, created job opportunities for medieval boys. Lords needed soldiers and were required to supply men to the king's army. Sons of noble families started the path to becoming a knight at a young age.

Medieval Plague (03:50)

The Black Death reached Britain in 1348 and 1361, killing millions. Children were hit the hardest during the second wave and England went from a very young to a rather old society. For children who survived, it was easy to find work and social mobility.

Medieval Apprenticeships (06:15)

Apprenticeships gave children as young as 12 the chance to travel to cities and learn a trade. Apprentices who reached master status became wealthy and prosperous in cities like York.

Medieval Children's Contributions (04:34)

Some medieval children contributed to English society through work or warfare, while some noble children went on to change the course of British history. History was mostly recorded by adult men and usually overlooked the roles of children.

Credits: Too Much Too Young - Children Of The Middle Ages (00:30)

Credits: Too Much Too Young - Children Of The Middle Ages

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Too Much Too Young - Children Of The Middle Ages

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3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In medieval England, nobody asked children, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" At a time when around half the population died before they reached 18 and a rigid system of social hierarchy held sway, life choices were determined early and adult responsibilities sometimes began not at 16 but as early as seven. This film looks at the lives of medieval children embarking on their journey into adulthood and reveals that although they had to grow up quickly in a harsh world, the experience could also be richly rewarding. Focusing on the three pillars of medieval society - religion, war, and work - Dr. Stephen Baxter explores how children became valuable members of society: monks, rural laborers, domestic servants, knights, and craft apprentices.

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: FMK188061

ISBN: 978-1-64867-259-0

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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