Sunday, March 23, 2014

Teenagers in Medieval Europe

Wow! If teenagers today think they have a rough life with high school and college, they should be thankful that they did not live in the Middle Ages.  That's because almost all teenagers in medieval times, rich and poor, were bound over to work in someone else's home for seven or eight years!

According to this interesting story in BBC News Magazine,"many parents of all classes sent their children away from home to work as servants or apprentices - only a small minority went into the church or to university."

Why did the system develop?  Historians think that the poor bound over their children for economic reasons. Some might have sent their children away because they were unruly.

The children had to behave. They signed a contract saying they would. "Many adolescents were contractually obliged to behave," notes the BBC.

This might be worth giving to my freshmen as an extra-credit project. Which teenagers had a better life?

Thanks to David Walp (@davidwalp) for tweeting the link.

1 comment:

Robbi Nace Keller said...

I've known about apprentices signing contracts, but I guess I didn't connect that they were teenagers and they were bound by contract to behave. Might be interesting way to introduce classroom rules and having them sign a contract?