Erik Spindler (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
The London Journal: Vol. 36 No. 1, March, 2011, 1–22
“Two distinct life stages are examined in this article: the end of youth and the onset of old age. Each of these life stages affected a person’s ability to engage with late medieval London society and institutions. Records of litigation between masters and apprentices are used to show that difficulties were common at all stages of an apprenticeship, and that they were a feature of the transition from youth to adulthood, as experienced by apprentices. While remedies and support mechanisms were available, they often existed outside the apprenticeship system. About five hundred Londoners over the age of seventy petitioned for exemption from jury duty between 1375 and 1496. The petitioners’ desire to withdraw from civic involvement contrasts with their earlier active role. A final section explores particular issues raised by a striking peak in the number of exemptions between 1400 and 1430. “
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. Within these life stages, the focus is on two highly regulated life-cycle events, namely apprenticeship and exemption from jury duty on the grounds of old age.