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Socialising the Child in Late Medieval England, c. 1400-1600

Socialising the Child in Late Medieval England, c. 1400-1600

Merridee L. Bailey
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Socialising the Child in Late Medieval England, c. 1400-1600
    Book Description:

    The question and procedures of integrating children into wider society during the medieval and early modern period are debated across a wide range of contemporary texts, in both print and manuscript form. This study takes as its focus the ways in which vernacular literature (including English courtesy poems, incunabula and sixteenth-century printed household books, grammar school statutes, and pedagogic books) provided a guide to socialising children. The author examines how the transmission and reception of this literature, showing how patterns of thought changed during the period for parents, teachers, and young people alike; and places children and family reading networks into the context of debates on the history of childhood, and the history of the book. Merridee L. Bailey is a lecturer at the Department of History, Australia National University.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-060-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. viii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-10)

    This book addresses the socialising roles of the late medieval household and the school. It asks how childhood was imagined by medieval writers and educators and then presented to contemporary child and adult readers. Although several studies have examined medieval childhood, there has been no systematic attempt to place the socialisation of children in late medieval and early modern England into the broader context of society, politics and religion. Childhood represents more than a chronological age or physical form; it is a time of instruction and learning, when relationships and abilities are developed and identity is created. As Erasmus advised,...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Courtesy Poems
    (pp. 11-42)

    A young boy sits alone reading a courtesy poem, or sits with his peers hearing it read aloud by an older male of the household. He reads, or hears, that he must show courtesy if he wishes to be considered a gentleman, possibly that he must even be of royal blood truly to appreciate the lessons he is about to discover in these pages of manuscript. He will walk with his lord in the great hall of an elite household estate, he will show care when he eats and he will not stare or gawp at those he meets in...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Readers
    (pp. 43-78)

    This chapter provides a comparative examination of the earlier and later courtesy material. In particular, there were continuities and discontinuities between the courtesy poems discussed previously and sixteenth-century material. The changes are viewed in the context of shifting household politics and aristocratic power. By 1500 there were only sixty peers remaining in England, a decline from 200 in c. 1250.² At the same time, those who were associated, or were attempting to associate themselves, with the gentry were rapidly increasing in number. In the sixteenth century, the pull towards the Tudor royal court instead of individual elite houses changed the...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Virtue and Vice
    (pp. 79-126)

    The manner in which printed books established new moral and virtuous impulses as part of the rhetoric of upbringing reflects increasing complexity in how courtesy, morality and socialisation were understood in the late fifteenth century. Courtesy manuscripts, while still available and circulating within and around households, were now matched by the London-based distribution of printed books. The extent to which texts from the existing body of English vernacular work were chosen for print and circulated outwards from London’s printing trade is evidence that the readership for literature concerned with children’s behaviour was changing.

    The role of printers in determining reading...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Sixteenth-Century Books
    (pp. 127-158)

    By the late fifteenth century there was a growing ideal within literature that boys and girls should be subject to moral, virtuous and courteous guidance. Caxton’s publications told of young people being ‘fed with virtue’ and ‘removed from vice’.² These books defined their responsibilities towards socialising both sexes as the instilling of courteous and virtuous manners. Before this the common theme in courtesy literature for boys had represented socialisation in multi-directional class lines, although it always began with an explicit focus on elite behaviour. Quite distinct differences between poems for boys and those for girls show that there had been...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The School
    (pp. 159-193)

    In 1502–3, Sir John Percyvale’s will revealed the manner in which the endowment of the grammar school in Macclesfield, Cheshire, was to have a long-term socialising effect on scholars ‘whose lernyng and bryngyng forth in Conyng and vertue right fewe Techers and scolemaisters been in that Contre whereby many Children for lak of such techyng & draught in conyng fall to Idlenes And so consequently live disolately all their daies’.² His sentiments reflect a commonplace desire among pedagogues, moralising adults and parents that the educational curriculum instil social, moral as well as educational skills in young people.

    These sentiments are...

    (pp. 194-200)

    Parents and adults, the State and the Church were obsessively preoccupied with the behaviour and conduct of children in medieval and early modern England. They saw childhood not as a spontaneous and natural time of life, but rather one to be structured, developed and moulded. At the core of their beliefs was the staple that the process of socialisation was necessary to produce a well-behaved child and then eventually a well-adjusted adult who had thoroughly absorbed the current conventions of society and could meet its demands.

    This book’s chronology, moving from the late medieval to the early modern period, shows...

  13. Appendix A: English Vernacular Courtesy Poems
    (pp. 203-220)
  14. Appendix B: Incunabula
    (pp. 221-225)
  15. Appendix C: Sixteenth-Century Books
    (pp. 226-234)
  16. Appendix D: Educational Sources
    (pp. 235-242)
    (pp. 243-264)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 265-270)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-275)