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Children are the offspring of humans. Smaller and immature than the adult they may sometimes be referred to as kids, rug rats, little 'uns, yard apes or similar by modern people.

Children in history

Children represent a continuation of the species, and at times, names, property and businesses. They could be used for political gain by marrying them to the appropriate people. Children also provided a source of labour.

Before the invention of effective and freely available contraception, families could have a large number of children. This was fortunate from an evolutionary point of view as they frequently fell ill and died and could be fatal to their mothers through the process of birth. Modern estimates of a 30% mortality rate in the first year of life are common although this is likely to be related to disease and accident than a common misconception of neglect.

Young children at various times might be dressed in a unisex manner until they reached the age of five, where boys would adopt a style of dress that aped their adult male counterparts. Young males would also be expected to train with the longbow in England from an early age.

Children in the middle ages spent much of their time in the home of their parents, but some might be sent to the home of another to learn lifes lesssons. The sons of kinghts might be expected to enter into the service of their father's lord in order to learn the ways of a knight. Children might enter the service of another or to learn a trade as an apprentice.


"Spare the rod and spoil the child" was a maxim iof disciplining medieval children and was suggested in some of the manuals of raising children such as "How the Goode Wife Taught Her Daughter". Severe beatings would have occurred but the medieval adult would look out for children and in the 14th century there is a record of people stepping in to prevent the beating of a child even though a scuffle ensued and they were taken to court where they defended their actions.