What medieval Europe did with its teenagers
Image copyright Getty Images Today, there's often a perception that Asian children are given a hard time by their parents. But a few hundred years ago northern Europe took a particularly harsh line, sending children away to live and work in someone else's home. Not surprisingly, the children didn't always like it. Around the year 1500, an assistant to the Venetian ambassador to England was struck by the strange attitude to parenting that he had encountered on his travels. He wrote to his masters in Venice that the English kept their children at home "till the age of seven or nine at the utmost" but then "put them out, both males and females, to hard service in the houses of other people, binding them generally for another seven or nine years". It was for the children's own good, he was told - but he suspected the English preferred having other people's children in the household because they could feed them less and work them harder. So why did this seemingly cruel system evolve?
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