Life Cycles in England, 1560-1720: Cradle to Grave

By Mary Abbott | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

Childhood

THE DEBATE: THE DISCOVERY OF CHILDHOOD?

The outcome of the recent debate about past attitudes to childhood is a I salutary instance of the merits and pitfalls of a common-sense approach to historical problems. Philippe Aries' pioneering and influential L'Enfant et la vie familiale sous L'Ancien Regime (1960), which launched the controversy, came out in England in 1962. Aries claimed that, from the end of the sixteenth century, the offspring of the better-off were 'subjected to a special treatment, a sort of quarantine, family and school together removed children from adult society'. Building in part on Aries' work, J.H. Plumb set out to paint 'a dark picture of childhood in seventeenth-century England'. Plumb discerned a 'new attitude to children' emerging as, towards the end of the century, 'a social morality' displaced the war on 'the old Adam', epitomising the undisciplined, sinful, wilful nature of fallen man. Lawrence Stone argued that, as this 'new type of family' which 'evolved' among 'the upper bourgeoisie and squirearchy', 'more and more time, energy, money and love of both parents were devoted to the upbringing of the children, whose wills it was no longer thought necessary to crush by force at an early age'.

To the non-historian it may seem incredible that the existence of childhood could ever be questioned and, in due course, this thesis was indeed challenged by Linda Pollock, who analysed material from 236 British diaries, 144 American diaries and thirty-six autobiographies. She concluded that

children formed an integral part of the family from at least the late 16th century. Parents were undoubtedly aware of the individuality of their offspring, of their varying needs and dispositions and endeavoured to suit their mode of childcare to each particular child.

She found 'the amount of paternal concern for children', even babies, 'of particular interest'. Pollock was especially critical of the claim that parents in general were emotionally cold and physically violent.

Most recent writers have endorsed Pollock's common-sense conclusion that childhood was a recognised stage in the human life cycle. But, as Keith Thomas pointed out, while the 'affection and concern' felt by parents 'was no less great' than in the present, their 'methods' of child rearing 'may have been different'. Thomas' emphasis on methods reflects his reservations about Pollock's case. He concluded that, like 'adults in a servile condition',

-57-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Life Cycles in England, 1560-1720: Cradle to Grave
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Part One - Life Cycles in England 1560-1720 1
  • Part One Contents 3
  • Chapter 1 - Worlds of Difference 5
  • Chapter 2 - 'Live to Die' 24
  • Chapter 3 - Conception, Birth, Infancy 47
  • Chapter 4 - Childhood 57
  • Chapter 5 - Youth 73
  • Chapter 6 - Love and the Business of Marriage 93
  • Chapter 7 - Householders 111
  • Chapter 8 - Old Age 133
  • Part Two - Dossier of Illustrative Texts 147
  • Part Two Contents 149
  • Introduction 151
  • Exhibit 1 - The Biblical Account of Creation 153
  • Part Three - Dossier of Illustrative Images 241
  • Part Three Contents 243
  • Index 304
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 310

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.