The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses

By Paul Murray Kendall | Go to book overview

12
Children

IN the tough, pushing world of the fifteenth century, children were not coddled nor did their upbringing occupy the centre of family life. Parental love, parental hopes were forced into harsh channels of expression which strained and often soured the feelings themselves. Children of the upper classes were sent while very young into strange households to make their way, and married early. Parents worked for the worldly advancement of their sons and daughters, but most of them apparently did not consider that enjoying children constituted a part of the pleasure of living.

Mothers like Margaret Paston sometimes tried to shield their sons from a father's rigour. Thomas and Elizabeth Brews, of Norfolk, were warm, affectionate parents. A letter from young Richard Cely to his brother George at Calais sounds an ageless maternal theme: 'Our mother longs sore for you. William Cely wrote that we be like to have war with France and that makes her afraid.'

But instances of such parental feeling do not often occur. Stephen Scrope, who complained so bitterly about his own upbringing, wrote casually, 'For very need I was fain to sell a little daughter I have'; he regretted only that he had to make the bargain 'for much less than I should have done by possibility'. Whatever lay in the hearts of parents, in their minds they assumed that children must become pawns in the family game of advancement, whose wishes and whose expressions of individuality were irrelevant, not to say intolerable. Consequently, the first and last duty of a child was humble obedience. Chaucer's squire serves as a model:

-434-

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The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • Principal Persons 15
  • Prologue - The Times 21
  • 1 - The Mayor 51
  • 1 - The Mayor: at Home 53
  • 2 - The Mayor: Abroad 88
  • 3 - Rebel Against the Mayor 117
  • 4 - The Lord Mayor of London 134
  • II - Other Important People 159
  • 5 - The King and the Royal Household 161
  • 6 - Lords and Gentry 194
  • 7 - Churchmen and the Church 244
  • 8 - Merchants, Pirates, Aliens and Lawyers 281
  • III - The Household 329
  • 9 - The Fabric of Life 331
  • 10 - The Marriage Hunt 364
  • II - Wives 401
  • 12 - Children 434
  • Epilogue 463
  • Bibliography 505
  • Index 515
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