DBQ 7: Children
Identify the various assumptions about children in early modern Europe, and analyze how these assumptions affected child-rearing practices.
The treatment of children during the early modern century was quite a controversial subject, as the high infant mortality rates greatly affected views and opinions towards the children. However, the different social classes all possessed various advantages, privileges, and conditions, which would shape different opinions towards child rearing. These opinions and methods can be separated into three categories: those that believed in harsh treatment, those that believed in moderate and reasonable treatment, and those based on a natural or Christian treatment.
During the early modern era, members of harsher and more radical societies were largely more prone to utilizing harsher methods of child rearing as seen in documents 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8. Document 3 represents an extremely harsh method that included harsh punishments to make a son “profitable” to the father. This point-of-view however, existed in Russia during an undeveloped and still tumultuous time. Documents 4 and 5 present the view of children as uncontrollable creatures. Cellini, author of document 4, leaves his son because he is shocked by his wild behavior while document 5 is a painting depicting children playing around in an unrestrained manner. These two documents would contribute to the view that children simply had no reason to be truly cared for and loved. Documents 6 and 8 were written in France, which was during a chaotic time as well, and this would affect the point-of-view towards children as well. Montaigne of document 6 does not see much of a reason to love children while King Henry IV believes that strict discipline which involved whipping was necessary for child rearing. It should also be noted that the Black Death, poor hygiene, and unsatisfactory public health was still terrorizing much of Europe, leading to high infant...
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