During early modern Europe, children were viewed in many different ways which changed how parents chose to raise their children. During the 1500’s, the mortality rates for children were high, therefore children were viewed as if they were adults and very precious if they survived, many people believed that they needed to treat children harshly to make them strong.
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As a father and leader of the protestant reformation, Luther is disheartened at his daughter’s loss, but he loves and respects God taking her away (Doc 2). A common stereotype about women is their personalities and perceptions toward children. Traditionally, the female stereotypic role is to marry and have children. She is also to put her family's welfare before her own; be loving, compassionate, caring, nurturing, and sympathetic. Margaret Cavendish, a duchess, a scientist, and a philosopher expresses her sincerity and is apprehensive of how society should treat children to help them reach their potential (Doc 9).
Through the knowledge of a philosophe, Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought that it would be best if you let children make their own decisions, because they will be stubborn if you try to stop them (Doc 12). Children’s Games, by Pieter Brueghel, displays the children absorbed in their games with the seriousness displayed by adults in their apparently more important pursuits (Doc 5). Another way people taught their children was through reasoning. Christoph Scheurl believed children are a great reward.
He is biased though because he has a son himself and knows of the emotional attachment and bond bearing a child creates, he speaks with only gratitude and expresses his love of his child (Doc 1). Theoretically speaking though, Jean Benedicti “obligates the child to obey under pain of mortal sin. ” Being a preacher, he expects a child to honor God and obey his wisdom (Doc 7). This follows the same circumstances stated in document 10. The English Catholic Gentleman expects highly of his daughter to have reliance on God and help her understand to make her amends to confess her sins to God.
John Locke, a philosopher who wrote “Two Treasies on Government” writes that a person must reason with children to their capacity of understanding. As a member of the Enlightenment, Locke believes people are rational and tabula rasa (blank slates) where they can be taught what to do. Changing ideas of the1600’s into the enlightenment allowed for parents to treat children kindly and rationally (Doc 11). Although some parents taught their children in a kind manner beneficial for the child, some punished their children by putting a negative impact on their well-being.
As depicted in document 3, it states that if a man truly cares about his child, he will whip him occasionally to make a man out of him. Generally, Russian households of the 17th century were harsh conditions to live under, therefore the nobility expected harsh discipline as a means to better their children. Michel de Montaigne expresses his opinion on children in a very different way though. He shows absolutely no passion or love for children. The tendency in his essays to digress into anecdotes and personal contemplations was seen as detrimental to proper style rather than as an innovation (Doc 6).
In an autobiography, Benevenuto Cellini, a metal crafter and sculptor, writes that he visited his son that was born out of wedlock and abruptly left the boy crying as he didn’t want Cellini to leave. Since Cellini’s child was born out of wedlock, he will be treated harshly and will be shunned as accustomed of the 1500’s (Doc 4). As for Henry IV, he was whipped as a child. In a letter to the governess Madame de Montglat, Henry commands her to whip his six year old son every time he misbehaves. Whipping children was common for people to do during the 1500’s.
As king of France, Henry IV wants his son to be strong when he heirs. He believes whipping him will make him a better person. Children were treated in different ways due to the accepted ideas and attitudes of the time from serfdom, the religion, the mortality rates and the Enlightenment. Being the precious gifts from God, children were being treated kindly and also harshly as they were objects as well
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