Imprisonment, Execution and Escape: Medieval History and the National Curriculum

Yeoman Warder speaking to a group of school children at the Tower of London. Photo courtesy of Represent London,

The final talk in Sesson #1041, Engaging the Public with the Medieval World, looked at what English children are being taught in school. How much medieval history is in the new programme that was released in September 2014? Megan Gooch, Curator at the Historic Royal Palaces breaks down the English system for us in her paper, ‘Imprisonment, Execution, and Escape: Medieval History and the National Curriculum’.

Making the Castle a Home: Creating an Immersive Medieval World Using Live Costumed Interpreters

To pardon or to punish? Children enjoying live stopped interpretation at the Tower of London. Photo courtesy of Past Pleasures.

How does the use of unscripted, adaptive, historical interpretation boost the tourist experience? Right on the heels of our look at the Tower of London’s visitor engagement, we heard a paper from Lauren Johnson, Research Manager for Past Pleasures, the oldest historical interpretation company in the UK who educate and entertain the public at historical sites, museums, on stage and and on TV.

The Experience of Growing Up in Medieval Society

Medieval Children - Omne Bonum - Royal 6 E.VII, f.67v (det). Wiki Commons.

This session (#508) was one of several at Leeds devoted to exploring childhood in the Middle Ages. Our presenters talked about the stereotypes of adolescence, and what the coroner’s rolls revealed about the deaths (and lives) of medieval children.

Trolls in the Middle Ages


Where did trolls come from? What did medieval and early modern people think of trolls? How did the concept of the modern day troll evolve?

The Sounds that Animals Make – the Medieval Version

geese book

It seems that every parent at one time or another teaches their children the sounds that animals make. They did it in the Middle Ages too.

Childhood in early Icelandic society: representations of children in the Icelandic Sagas

Illustration to Laxdœla saga, chapter 44

Thirteenth century Icelanders did not sentimentalize childhood, but rather viewed it as a learning stage, a crucial period for the acquisition of culture.

Picturing Maternal Anxiety in the Miracle of the Jew of Bourges

2 scenes from the Miracle of the Jewish Boy from Bourges, Lincoln Cathedral (

During the middle ages, one of the most popular and most frequently illustrated Miracles of the Virgin Mary was the Miracle of the Jew of Bourges. According to the text of the miracle, the Virgin saves a young Jewish boy after his father throws him into a fiery oven upon learning he attended a Christian mass.

Would You Survive Childhood In Medieval Europe?

Medieval children at play

When life is tough, it’s always most difficult for the children. The advances that allowed people to settle in with farms and cattle increased the nutrition and stability, but there were still plenty of things to worry about in Medieval times. Check your knowledge of childhood during this era!

‘Sons of athelings given to the earth’: Infant Mortality within Anglo-Saxon Mortuary Geography

anglo saxon england map

For 20 or more years early Anglo-Saxon archaeologists have believed children are under-represented in the cemetery evidence.

Replacing the Father – Representing the Child: A Few Notes on the European History of Guardianship

medieval baptism

There are medieval European varieties of guardianship that is closely connected to feudal forms of power relations. In English feudal society, where inheritance practice was largely dominated by the principles of primogeniture, the oldest male heir of a deceased father would become the ward of the feudal guardian.

An Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse During the Byzantine Empire

The fresco of queen Simonida Paleologus, Gračanica monastery, Serbia

During the Byzantine Empire, child sexual abuse was more prevalent and less stigmatized than it is today.

Casualties among children in the light of Polish medieval ‘Catalogues of miracles’

St Hedwig

‘Catalogues of miracles’ show the number of children which was injured or killed. Parents or relatives turned to the saints with pleas for curing or bringing their child back to life. I discuss the categories of the accidents, the age of injured, the types of pleas, parent’s feelings and vows.

The Legend of the Pied Piper in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Grimm, Browning, and Skurzynski

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

This paper examines the changes that were made in the literary telling and retelling of the story of the Pied Piper during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, comparing the folktale “Die Kinder zu Hameln” (1816) by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the poem “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”(1842) by Robert Browning, and the book What Happened in Hamelin (1979), by Gloria Skurzynski.

What medieval Europe did with its teenagers


Today, there’s often a perception that Asian children are given a hard time by their parents. But a few hundred years ago northern Europe took a particularly harsh line, sending children away to live and work in someone else’s home. Not surprisingly, the children didn’t always like it.

Deceptive appearances? Reading medieval child monuments

Reading medieval child monuments

Tomb effigies and monuments offer important evidence on how dead children were commemorated and thus also on the status of children in the Middle Ages.

Filicide in Medieval Narrative

The Legend of Virginia

These filicide episodes, regardless of origin, serve a dual purpose within their narratives, to captivate with gripping material and to educate through example. Patterns regarding victims and perpetrators transcend linguistic and cultural boundaries.

Youth and Old Age in Late Medieval London

Tower of London - Royal Menagerie

This article is concerned with the relationship between life stages and a person’s place in urban society. The two life stages studied here are the end of youth and the onset of old age, that is to say the two stages at either end of that period in life when men were most active economically, socially, and politically, when they were expected to build a family and run a business.

Children and Literature in Medieval England

Children's Book

Deals with childrens’ literature in medieval England. Kinds of literature heard by children in England; Examples of rhymes used by medieval children; Ways of linking rhymes with children.

The Hunted Children of Kings: A Theme in the Old Icelandic Sagas

Contemporary bust of Sverre from the Nidaros Cathedral, dated c. 1200

In this instance life appears to imitate art, that is if we categorize fairy tales as art. Life, or at least the life of King Sverrir, resembles a story about stepmothers.

How much did medieval teachers beat their students?

A typically frenzied Renaissance depiction of a birching - Hans  Holbein's image of the 'tyranny of schoolmasters', from his illustrations for Erasmus' Praise of Folly, c.1515.  Photo courtesy University of Leicester

Medieval writing suggests classroom punishments such as beating, flogging and whipping were carefully regimented – and were only meant to be used to aid learning.

Converting Childhood: Shifting Perceptions of Childhood in Early Irish Ecclesiastical and Secular Law

Medieval children 2

In early medieval Ireland, children could be reared in foster families or by the church.

Neonatal care and breastfeeding in medieval Persian literature

Mother breastfeeding a baby in the presence of the father. Detail from the sarcophagus of Marcus Cornelius Statius, who died as a young child. Marble, Roman artwork, ca. 150 AD.  Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen

The present article is a review of the Jorjani’s teachings on the neonatal care, breastfeeding, weaning and teething along with comparisons between the Treasure and modern medicine in this regard.

Agatha, Clerical ‘Wife’ and Wet Nurse to King John of England, Longtime Companion to Godfrey de Lucy, Bishop of Winchester

Detail of historiated initial 'A' with the choosing a wet-nurse: A noble woman tests the exposed breast of a propective nurse.

Agatha’s life, like that of her mistress Eleanor of Aquitaine, is remarkable in an age when women’s innate inferiority and wives’ subordination to their husbands were almost universally accepted, and discussions of women and marriage in learned treatises, sermons, and vernacular stories were ‘at worst misogynistic and at best ambivalent.’

Infant Burials and Christianization: The View from East Central Europe

Dziekanowice-groby-odkryte (uncovered graves)

This was the second paper in the Early Medieval Europe I series given at KZOO and another fabulous archaeology paper. It contrasted infant grave sites in early converted medieval Poland and Anglo Saxon England.

“Full Faith and Credit” in Merrie Olde England: New Insights for Marriage Conflicts Law from the Thirteenth Century

Van Eyck - Arnolfini Marriage (1434)

Here the subject is full faith and credit and the implications which the exposure of the myth of universality might carry for the recognition of judgments concerning marriage. As with the choice of law problem, so with the recognition of judgments, there is discovered in the anti- quities of English law a perception and comprehension exceeding our own.

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