What did teenagers do for fun in medieval times?

Medieval teenagers didn't exist. No, really.

You were a child, and then you were an adult. This transition happened somewhere around 12-14, and by the end of it, you were an adult and expected to act like one.

The whole marrying at fourteen thing is overplayed these days — nobles and royals did sometimes, but ordinary people waited until they would be able to support a family, which put the average marriage age in the early twenties. But other adult responsibilities? They were yours now. Deal with it.

A few notable examples that highlight this:

When an underage king ascended to the throne, the minority council generally began the transfer of power when the king was about fourteen, and ideally handed over control when the king was about sixteen. That was the point at which he was considered to have been adult enough to rule.

There are records of fourteen-year olds being ordained as parish priests in times of scarcity such as post-plague — young, yes, but not that much younger than they would have been otherwise. Boys were usually turned over to that line of work at seven, the age of the beginning of formal education.

In free urban families — rather than unfree and rural ones, where you were going to take over your family's land whether you liked it or not — boys entered into apprenticeships somewhere between ages eleven and fifteen, depending on the level of education their families gave them beforehand. They spent the next seven years or so being trained before slowly starting to strike out on their own. They were apprentices during their teenage years rather than independent craftsmen, but they were still working full days, usually longer than their masters'. This was the same age at which daughters went into domestic service at a wealthier home.

A wealthy childhood focused on education that was geared towards you taking on responsibilities for the family business as soon as possible, be that trade or ruling — or, if female, all the skills needed to run a household and be a good representative for your family. A poorer childhood was spent being trained in your father's work, probably in the fields, or helping your mother in household work and whatever cottage industry she ran. Up until about seven, you were given more space to play, but once you were capable of helping it was expected that you would.

Once you could do the things you were being trained for, there you go, you're an adult now. Off you go.

So, since most people in their teenage years were basically younger adults, what did they do for fun?

Well, what the other adults did, of course. Drink and gamble. If you were wealthy, hunt and play instruments and other things that took time and money.

Apprentices were treated by some writers in a similar way to how university students are treated now — adults, but reluctantly so. There are reports of gangs of apprentices roaming cities, picking fights that sometimes ended in deaths, and complaints from masters that their apprentices were sneaking out to get drunk and have sex when that was explicitly forbidden in their contracts. But remember, apprentices began in their early-to-mid teens. Most of these gangs were made up of what we would now call teenagers. So in that sense, they did much the same things for fun as the more rebellious teens do now. But they weren't teenagers — they were adults.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Do you find it sad that medieval teenagers were deprived of childhood joys?

#History #Society #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Grant McIntosh
Teenagers, as they are now, didn't exist until after the Second World War.....until the 1950s, you were a child and then a young adult. This article is not exactly revolutionary......until the last 60 years, it was the norm. People who think that we live in austere times now, have no concept of how poor most people were until relatively recent times. Up until the post war years, if you were old enough to work, you did, in order to support your family.
Dec 22, 2018 9:26PM
Lee Miller
It sounds similar to my life, although life, in general, was obviously better in my time. I went to school and graduated, but from childhood (7 years old), I spent summers working with my father or grandfather. By the time I was 13 I worked weekends. By 17 I was doing half days at school and working afternoons and weekends. I met my wife at 16 and we married the day before my 18th birthday. We had our first child a couple of weeks before my 20th birthday, and 2 more by the time I turned 23. We've been married 35 years now. It was a good life and the things I learned by working from such a young age helped me bond with my parents and grandparents, left me great memories, and have served me through my life. I believe our society, families, and economy would be much better off if we returned to letting kids take on more responsibility. Idle hands and minds are the devil's workshop.
Feb 20, 2019 9:15AM
Isabel Laing
Many teenagers now may be a lot happier and better behaved if they had more responsibility !!
Jan 17, 2019 5:16PM
Chores for us began at about 6 - the girls did the dishes and cleaned up and the boys carried and chopped wood and did the yardwork. Plenty of time for play still but chores were important and you helped because it was expected.
Jan 4, 2019 6:17PM
Eve , yes mine began early too it freed a bit of time for my parents and lifeskills are important.We all have to eat etc and all make mess.👍
Aug 15, 2020 8:34PM
Isabel Laing, agree wholeheartedly
Aug 15, 2020 8:31PM
Susan Golebiewski
Thank you for this information. Personally I began babysitting at age 9 & could cook & clean as well. In my day we grew up fast. I learned from my Grandmother & Mother & Aunts. I loved it.
Jan 17, 2020 8:30PM
Robert Farris Richey
Lee Miller, My brother and his wife met at 16 also and were married a few weeks after they were 18 and had their first child a few weeks after they were 19, they've been married 62 years. My sister and her husband became sweethearts in 7th grade and got married several months before they turned 20, they have been married over 56 years. I married late, a few weeks before my 24th and have been married 54 years. Congratulations on your 35 keep up the good work.
Dec 8, 2019 6:19PM
Sue Lason
I starting working at the age of 12 at the library, then in retail once I turned 16 I worked in retail. After high school I put myself thru college. Once I got full time employment I "played" until I turned 35 when I settled down. I had it easier than they did in olden times...I would have been expected to marry and produce heirs while I was in my teens!
Oct 4, 2019 4:44PM
Lee Miller, you're only 53 it's not like you're from the turn of the century or something.
Aug 6, 2019 7:20AM
James Klingenberg
It would seem discipline was not just acquired , but was forced on to everyone at a early age.
Mar 25, 2019 10:07AM
Don Racette
robert karel You're right...nobody is going to listen to you.
Mar 19, 2019 4:52PM
robert karel
I have much to say regarding the matter, but what’s the use?!
Feb 7, 2019 5:03PM
robert karel
I have much to say regarding the matter, but what’s the use?!
Feb 7, 2019 4:57PM
David Gregory
I was working 48 hrs per week at 15
Dec 31, 2018 8:38AM
Helen Christopulos LoBosco
Grant McIntosh, Yes. You said it well.
Dec 26, 2018 4:25PM

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