Inquiring into childhood is one of the most appropriate ways to address the perennial and essential question of what it is that makes human beings – each of us – human. In Childhood in History: Perceptions of Children in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds, Aasgaard, Horn, and Cojocaru bring together the groundbreaking work of nineteen leading scholars in order to advance interdisciplinary historical research into ideas about children and childhood in the premodern history of European civilization. The volume gathers rich insights from fields as varied as pedagogy and medicine, and literature and history. Drawing on a range of sources in genres that extend from philosophical, theological, and educational treatises to law, art, and poetry, from hagiography and autobiography to school lessons and sagas, these studies aim to bring together these diverse fields and source materials, and to allow the development of new conversations. This book will have fulfilled its unifying and explicit goal if it provides an impetus to further research in social and intellectual history, and if it prompts both researchers and the interested wider public to ask new questions about the experiences of children, and to listen to their voices.

chapter 1|18 pages


ByReidar Aasgaard, Cornelia Horn, Oana Maria Cojocaru

chapter 2|18 pages

Roots of character and flowers of virtues

A philosophy of childhood in Plato’s Republic
ByMalin Grahn-Wilder

chapter 3|19 pages

Aristotle on children and childhood

ByHallvard J. Fossheim

chapter 4|21 pages

Roman conceptions of childhood

The modes of family commemoration and academic prescription
ByW. Martin Bloomer

chapter 5|17 pages

Greco-Roman paediatrics

ByPatricia Baker

chapter 6|17 pages

Ancient Jewish traditions

Moses’s infancy and the remaking of biblical Miriam in antiquity
ByHagith Sivan

chapter 7|16 pages

Slave children in the first-century Jesus movement

ByMarianne Bjelland Kartzow

chapter 8|15 pages

Aspects of childhood in second- and third-century Christianity

The case of Clement of Alexandria
ByHenny Fiskå Hägg

chapter 9|15 pages

Children and childhood in Neoplatonism

ByEyjólfur Kjalar Emilsson

chapter 10|17 pages

Childhood in 400 CE

Jerome, John Chrysostom, and Augustine on children and their formation
ByReidar Aasgaard

chapter 12|16 pages

“Pour out the blood and remove the evil from him”

The creation of a ritual of birth (‘aqīqa) in Islam in the eighth century 1
ByMohammed Hocine Benkheira

chapter 13|15 pages

Conceptions of children and youth in Carolingian capitularies

ByValerie L. Garver

chapter 14|16 pages

Children and youth in monastic life

Western Europe 400–1250 CE
ByBrian Patrick McGuire

chapter 15|17 pages

Childhood in middle and late Byzantium

Ninth to fifteenth centuries
ByAlice-Mary Talbot

chapter 16|16 pages

New perspectives on parent-child relationships in early Europe

Jewish legal views from the High Middle Ages
ByIsrael Zvi Gilat

chapter 17|17 pages

Voci puerili

Children in Dante’s Divine Comedy
ByUnn Falkeid

chapter 18|15 pages

Viking childhood

ByÁrmann Jakobsson

chapter 19|13 pages

Reactions to the death of infants and children in premodern Muslim societies

Children in Marʿi Ibn Yusuf’s plague and consolation treatises
ByAvner Giladi

chapter 20|16 pages

Perceptions of children in medieval England

ByNicholas Orme