The Material Culture of Childhood in Renaissance Italy

Michele Nicole Robinson

Tutkimustuotos: Artikkeli kirjassa/konferenssijulkaisussaEntry for encyclopedia / dictionaryScientificvertaisarvioitu


Children were important and valued members of society in Renaissance Italy. Little information about their thoughts and experiences have come down through the ages, though, so it can be difficult to study children and childhood from the past using traditional historical sources. Instead, objects and their innate properties (what is known today as material culture) offer a great deal of information on this key stage of life. Parents and caregivers employed a wide range of objects to ensure and safeguard children's health and development. Objects used by children or as part of their care offer evidence of contemporary ideas about health, education and spirituality. They were also imbued with meaning, revealing aspects of familial, civic, social, and religious hierarchies that were key to Renaissance society.

For instance, clothing worn by children was intended to keep them warm, dry and comfortable, but also conveyed important information to contemporary onlookers about their religion, social status and family's wealth. It could also indicate a child's age, gender, and place within their family's hierarchy through qualities such as color, fabric and decoration. Charms made of coral, turquoise and other materials functioned in a similar way. They could keep infants and children safe from the wide range of spiritual and physical dangers, illnesses and ailments they faced. The materials from which these were made could announce their family's wealth and religious beliefs, but are also suggestive of contemporary ideas about children's health, wellbeing and safety.

Objects also show the measures that were taken to ensure children's safety as they learned new skills. Helmets offered protection as they learned to walk and miniature prayer stools aided them in learning to safely connect with the divine. Other kinds of teaching tools, such as books and images, enabled children to learn how to pray, but also reinforced and normalized gendered differences. Miniature kitchen implements and weapons functioned in a similar way, helping girls and boys develop skills that were appropriate to their age, gender and social status. Material culture can therefore reveal a great deal about children's lives and experiences in Renaissance Italy and demonstrates that considerable attention and expense were devoted to their care.
OtsikkoRoutledge Resources Online – The Renaissance World
ToimittajatKristen Poole, Mónica Domínguez Torres
ISBN (elektroninen)9780367347093
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - 19 kesäk. 2023
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA3 Kirjan tai muun kokoomateoksen osa


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