Child Rearing in the Middle Ages

It’s hard to get a handle on what child care was like in the Middle Ages–or what exactly was the prevailing philosophy.  Certainly, the ideal childhood of today’s middle class in the US or Europe, did not exist during the Middle Ages. Sources that describe what child rearing was like are all over the map, in terms of the degree of care, love, maternal obligations, and how long childhood lasted.  A child’s life was also circumscribed the class into which he was born. Certainly infants were viewed as needing loving and attentive care:  “Writing around 1250, Bartholomew the Englishman said that if it is too hot or too cold when a baby comes from the womb into the air, the baby becomes miserable and cries. Following the advice of medical writers, he suggested that to cleanse the infant’s limbs of their Read more…

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Dylan Thomas wrote A Child’s Christmas in Wales in 1954.  It begins:  “One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.  All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find . . .” For the full text: