Centuries Of Childhood

Centuries Of Childhood


In this pioneering and important book, Philippe Aries surveys children and their place in family life from the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century. The first section of the book explores the gradual change from the medieval attitude to children, looked upon as small adults as soon as they were past infancy, to the seventeenth and eighteenth century awareness of the child as the focal point of family life. Aries goes on to examine the schooling of children and the development of modern educational methods. In the second section, he describes the metamorphosis of the family: at first the family was a unit in which everything was open and public and children mingled with adults in the social life of the community; eventually the family become a closed or private society, within which children had a unique and important status.


  • If this is a book - indeed the book - about the history of childhood, it is also a book about how things, like childhood, or the family, come to seem important: worth talking about, or writing about, or painting... Centuries of Childhood shows us, in vivid and dramatic detail, why the past is never finished - that we can never get over it because it is never over.
    Adam Phillips

About the author

Philippe Aries

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