Childbirth, Childhood and Adolescence in the Middle Ages

What We Know About Being a Medieval Child

What do you really know about medieval children?

Perhaps no other period of history has more misconceptions associated with it than the Middle Ages. The history of childhood is also full of misconceptions. Recent scholarship has illuminated the lives of medieval children as never before, dispelling many of these misconceptions and replacing them with verifiable facts about life for the medieval child.

In this multi-part feature, we explore various facets of medieval childhood, from childbirth through the teen years. We'll see that, though the world they lived in was very different, medieval children were in some ways very like the children of today.

Introduction to Medieval Childhood

In this article, we dissect the concept of childhood in the middle ages and how that influenced the importance of children in medieval society. 

Medieval Childbirth and Baptism

Discover what childbirth was like in the middle ages for women of all stations and classes and the importance of religious ceremonies like baptism in the Christian world.

Surviving Infancy in the Middle Ages

The death rate and average lifespan in the middle ages were drastically different from what we see today. Discover what like was like for an infant as well as the realities of child mortality rate and infanticide.

The Playful Years of Childhood in the Middle Ages

A common misconception about medieval children is that they were treated like adults and expected to behave like adults.

Children were expected to do their share of household chores, but play was also a prominent part of medieval childhood. 

The Learning Years of Medieval Childhood

The teenage years were the time to concentrate more intensely on learning in preparation for adulthood. While not all adolescents had schooling options, in some ways education was the archetypal experience of adolescence.

Work and Adolescence in the Middle Ages

While medieval teens might have been preparing for adulthood, their lives may have been full of both work and play. Discover the typical life of a teen in the middle ages.