In the Middle Ages, kids’ lives were very different than today; back then, by the age of 12, many boys would have been apprenticed to a trade already, while a girl would be learning the household arts in preparation for getting married in a year or two. Hard to believe? The short and brutish lives of peasants in the Middle Ages, for kids, are described in frank detail in this issue, which follows courtly life in castles but also shows what things were like for the unwashed masses. Kids will learn that most people during this era – roughly A.D. 500 to 1500 – toiled as serfs, slaves, or vassals, while only the wealthy few became knights, nobles, and landowners.
Another focus is the Roman Catholic Church, which was by far the most powerful and wealthiest institution during the Middle Ages. For kids who like tales of young heroes, they’ll be astounded by the tale of French teenager Joan of Arc, whose angelic visions urged her to fight for her king in the Battle of Orleans. Life in Europe’s burgeoning cities, is also spotlighted, as well as the diseases that swept through them, like the Black Death, which wiped out one-third of the population. Eventually, kids will learn, the suffocating grip of the Church and feudalistic society began to wear on the peasants, which led to uprisings, wars, and new routes to knowledge that ushered in the Renaissance period.
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