Children In The Elizabethan Era

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by 19OGoodridge
Last updated 5 years ago

Social Studies
European history

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Children In The Elizabethan Era

All families in all classes were fairly small. Women gave birth to many children but only 2-3 survive to adulthood. Experienced frequent pregnancies but also many miscariages and infant deaths. Physical seperation of spouses amoung married couples could limit pregnancy. For instance, men working in long distance trade could be seperated from wives for years on end. Birth control was forbidden for everyone except Jews as there was not much space in Jewish community dwellings so family size was limited. Some healthy women had double digit births and could occasionally have aroud 10 children live to at least teenhood.

Mothers were usually busy working around the house and property to watch a toddler so children ages 6 and up had this responsibility. Having such young children in charge could result in terrible accidents. When an infant was considered able to sit up, crawl, and stand, the swaddling was removed and solid food was introduced such as porridge. Kinds of things that young children played mimicked activities of their parents. Little girls played things like cooking and boys cutting wood.


Infansy was a very risky period because of many diseases and accidents. The odds of surviving the first year of life was only 50%. When a child was born they were wrapped in swaddling bands for the first 6-12 months. They were nursed for 2 years. The first 5 years of a child's life was the most dangerous.

Activities for kids after age 5 were dominated by work and schooling but still included some time to play. Play activities were similar to today with things such as climbing trees.They were not supervised well so danger of injury was high. Ages 5-12 was when children were given more responsibility and became more independent. Peasant children began working at age 5 by taking care of younger children and helping around the house.Elite children had fewer chores but still their own responsibilities.Education begins at age 5 from tutors and boys learning about war while girls learn things such as weaving and cooking. Sometimes children were sent away for their schooling. Lower class kids started school around age 7.

Children in the Elizabethan Era


Age 5-12


Marriage choices and criteria parents used to pick a candidate was not based on love but more so security, wealth, political influence, and physical proximity of land. The king had a say of the marriages of children as well especially if parents were dead. By the time a girl was 13 and often earlier, they were considered marriable. At such a young age, they could not be psychologically prepared the experience especially since the husband was often closer in age to their mother than themself.


A young boy dresses in skirts (same as girls) until age 3-7, depending on his parents' and nurse's evaluation, when he gets his first pair of breeches. It is a big event with a party. The event is called "breeching" and is often marked by the point when a father becomes involved in raising his son.

Breeching of a boy

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