Why Teenage Life In The Middle Ages Sucked


Being a teenager is hard. It’s a time characterized by heightened
hormone levels, acne, more acne, and insecurity. As a teenager, your biggest concern may be
figuring out who you are and establishing your identity. On top of that, you’ve also got high school
to contend with and the politics of cliques that come with it. You must navigate through the social order
to figure out where and who you belong with. Do you try to get in with the jocks and cheerleaders
or do you play it safe and chill with the chess club crew? And who do you ask to prom? Not only do you grapple with finding your
social niche, but you’re also being pressured left, right and center to decide on a college
and make important choices about your future. This is made all the more difficult when you’re
still so unsure about yourself as a person. But if you thought being a teenager is hard
in today’s modern age, imagine what it must have been like during a prior time period. More specifically, the middle ages. Perhaps there are some of you who may view
the medieval period as a romantic time. William Shakespeare’s depiction of it in
his works may certainly make it seem like an era filled with chivalry and love at first
sight- along with a great deal of violence and dead fathers. It is a time that may also lead many of us
to think of sword fights, jousts, brave knights in shining armor, battles for honor and glory,
hand-to-hand combat, and rescuing a beautiful damsel in distress. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, as most of us are aware, it was far
from glamorous. Even Shakespeare’s classic, love-stricken,
teenaged characters, Romeo and Juliet, face tragedy at the end of the tale with an untimely
demise. There was a great deal of hardship during
the middle ages and, being accustomed to our comfortable, modern lifestyles, many of us
can’t even begin to fathom the harsh reality of living in such drastically different circumstances. First of all, we should start off by saying
that if you were a teenager in medieval Europe, you would have had to thank the lucky stars
that you even managed to survive that long! During this time, it was not uncommon for
children to die of illness, disease or injury at a young age. In fact, parents tended to purposefully produce
more children to accommodate for this. The king of England was encouraged to produce
“an heir and a spare,” as they coined the phrase. In other words, it was vital that he have
at least two sons to inherit his throne in case the first should die for one reason or
another. Many factors worked against you and it is
estimated that only about half of all children survived into adulthood, especially when there
existed a constant threat of plague or sweating sickness without proper medical solution. As far as teenagers were concerned, they were
pretty much unrecognized. In early medieval society, you were considered
an adult by age 12 in the eyes of the law. People did not live long lives back then,
so adulthood started early. Even children were considered miniature adults
and expected to act like it. Kids were immediately given work and responsibilities
almost from the time they learned to walk. The medieval world was also obsessed with
courtesy and politeness. Having good manners as a child was essential
for survival if you wanted to earn social support and protection. There was no leeway for acting like a brat
or throwing a tantrum if you wanted to get on successfully in life. Punishments for doing otherwise or not following
model behavior could be brutally harsh. You were often beaten if you made one too
many mistakes. Life was no joke and survival was everyone’s
first and foremost priority. In a heavily male-dominated world, boys especially
faced hardship in a strict regime. They were expected to grow into strong men
and fill leadership roles. Many boys were bullied by their peers if they
were perceived as being too weak or unmanly. It was not uncommon to encounter casual violence,
and this was only thought to make young men stronger. For this reason, you wouldn’t receive any
sympathy from others if you were picked on. Instead, you had to learn to defend yourself
and stand up to others in the face of adversity. There existed a predominant cultural mentality
of, “Get over it!” and “toughen up!” so complaining wouldn’t be tolerated and
would only make you appear frail while placing a larger target on your back for others to
antagonize you. When you consider this, you may be thankful
that, in today’s time, you at least have the option to go speak to a guidance counselor
or a dean if you want to report a bully. But back then, you were entirely on your own
and forced to grow up even before you might have felt ready. If you were a girl during the middle ages,
you were typically groomed to be a bride and expected to marry a man of your family’s
choosing. It was not uncommon for girls to be married
off very young by their parents, sometimes even at the delicate age of six depending
on which century you lived in. Your purpose was to basically serve your husband,
whoever he may be. Really, you didn’t have any rights and were
barely even be considered human. Instead, you were considered property of men. You could forget about pursuing higher education
or starting a career. It was your duty to look after the home and
provide your husband with children, mainly sons. Manners were again essential, and you were
expected to act feminine and behave gracefully. Being matched with a kind husband was based
on luck. If you were dealt a bad hand in the game of
life and given an abusive husband, too bad. You had to submit to him and simply endure
it. If you did not, the consequences could be
dire. The crude reality for women of the time was
that they were required to be “seen but not heard.” The middle ages could be incredibly grim for
women, as exemplified in history when King Henry VIII would express bitter disappointment
when he had daughters born instead of sons. It is thought that Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s
second wife, would not have been executed had she given birth to a son instead of the
future Queen Elizabeth I at the time. Others think she may have overstepped her
bounds by trying to manipulate the king so that she could take control in various governing
situations, which may have fueled a feeling of resentment within him later. Anne herself admitted to being jealous of
the king during her final confession before execution in 1536. This would have been considered highly unacceptable
to the point of evoking repugnance. After all, the emotion of jealousy was considered
a masculine feeling which violated the rules of being a woman. In her case, some may argue that Anne Boleyn’s
strong personality may have held some influence towards her own undoing, causing the king
to flock to his third wife, Jane Seymour, who portrayed opposite characteristics of
modesty and gentle submissiveness- qualities considered ideal for a woman to possess. There were, however, times when life could
get slightly easier, particularly for a teenager. Life was still bad, but it wasn’t always
completely horrible depending on your situation. Many children would be wiped out by the black
plague because, unlike adults, they weren’t around to develop immunity from the last onset. As death favored the young and the population
became more middle-aged, a demand for younger workers would heighten. This meant that if you were a teenaged boy
who happened to survive the last plague, you had many opportunities to develop new skills
that you were interested in and find better work. For a girl, you may have been considered a
hot commodity since many men favored younger girls for their fertility and ability to produce
more children than older women. For this reason, your odds of marrying a man
of greater wealth and prestige may have been increased after a plague wiped out the majority
of your competition. Yes, this is morbid, and you may now be thinking
that life must have been very dismal if something as devastating as a plague could make it better,
and you would be right. But this was the dark reality for youth at
the time. For sons of noblemen, however, life was arguably
as good as it could get. There was the option of becoming a knight,
which was an expensive occupation with much prestige. Training started very early in life. Boys had to be proficient in horseback riding
and the art of combat. In essence, they were coached into becoming
young soldiers. Teachings were very strict. Think military academy for tots! But it had the potential to pay off with a
glorious future as a medieval knight, a bold and respected profession. As a teenager, you could achieve the rank
of squire before later being granted knighthood. Perhaps you’re thinking that working towards
becoming a knight seems a lot cooler than being a high school student in 2019. But it was not as chivalrous as people may
presume. Being a knight came with great privilege,
but the power was often abused. This is explained in further detail in our
other video, Medieval Knights were NOT Noble, but Cold-Hearted Killers. As a knight, you could very well go around
and take what you wanted. No one would dare stop you. It was fair game with the losers usually being
poor, unsuspecting peasants. Yes, it may sound kind of cool in a Grand
Theft Auto sort of way, but you’d be tainted as being pretty evil. Still, it could be argued that being a horrible
person was the best way to earn a better quality of life during this dark time. After all, it was an intense dog-eat-dog world. Aside from being among the royalty and high-ranking,
wealthy noblemen, knighthood was what could’ve led to greater happiness for a young person
in medieval times. Just be careful what you wish for. Perhaps our discussion of lifestyles for teens
in the middle ages makes you appreciate modern living a little more. Here at least you don’t really have to worry
as much about survival as our ancestors did and you’re mostly free to explore your likes
and dislikes while discovering your self-identity. You may be concerned about your homework and
figuring out what to wear to prom but at least you don’t have to grapple with adult responsibilities
just yet. And if you act up or show attitude towards
your parents occasionally, you’ll usually be forgiven at some point without being brutally
beaten. Just don’t make a habit of it. Given the information about medieval life,
it’s not hard to make the assumption that times are much better now, especially when
you consider that the invention of the internet allows us constant access to instant gratification
and our favorite YouTube channels. We also have advancements in modern medicines
that don’t include leeches or bloodletting. So, let’s face it, there are a lot of comforts,
conveniences and technologies we take for granted now that would seem completely alien
to people from the middle ages. If they could peer through a time portal and
witness our lives unfold before their eyes, they might think we’ve learned how to harness
magic or something like it. We also have a far less infant and child mortality
rate, which means more children get to survive into teen and adulthood while pursuing their
futures. This means that you may be alive today precisely
because you didn’t grow up in the middle ages. Would
you want to be a teenager during the middle ages or were you happy to grow up in the modern
era? Tell us in the comments! Now for more insane Medieval facts go watch
“Medieval Knights Were NOT Noble, But Cold-Hearted Killers!” Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

100 thoughts on “Why Teenage Life In The Middle Ages Sucked

  1. If I lived in Medivial Europe. I would just run away and moved out of the continent. Maybe to Asia. I know it's a bad idea but I don't know what was times back then in other continents. Only in Europe

  2. Teenagers according to infographics: highschool and prom

    Teenagers according to reality: working a job, passing high school, homework, hardest most important tests of your life (SATs), preparing for college, managing time between all those factors plus a social life, getting your license, learning to become independent doing things like taxes, taking out school loans and choosing a career path that will decide the rest of your life. You have 4 years to do that and if you slip up it will set you back in life sometimes forever and you'll be stuck working at mcdonalds forever, you have 4 years so do it all right. But dont worry, after this, you'll just do the same simple routine for the rest of your life.

  3. I think in many ways statutory laws are unjust. We've been bred for centuries to be with much younger women, they are naturally more attractive to men because they are more fertile and better at producing offspring. Now we have hormones in our food that make puberty and adolescence happen faster and make females look much older than they are. I'm not talking prepubescent females, that's disgusting. But based on our biology, I think it's wrong for us to have such strict laws against men being with females in the 15-17 range. As the show mentioned, females in the adolescence range have been forced to be with much older men for centuries. They should at least have the choice to consent nowadays.

  4. Teenagers did not exist until the 1950s. Before that, there were children and adults. But so many new things were invented in the 1950s, teenagers could get their own record players and have their own music.

  5. In other words social justice warriors would never survive in middle ages, because that age was meant for real warriors.

  6. To days teenagers have it far too easy they're spoiled and rotten to the core, they don't know the value of money work family and respect towards their elders.
    They've too much free time on their hands being cooped up in their rooms time after time playing video games, they want want want without thinking how hard their parents have to work to provide for their comfortable lifestyle.

    I blamed both the goverment and Some parents for these children greedy needs because of this they can't or won't say no turning them into a destructive out of control young generation, who often talked back to their faces disrespecting them on every level

  7. If only Infographics had a test subject that had a girlfirend, that they could send off somewhere and have them live as medival pesants for a week or so. >:)

  8. The term of being a teenager wasn't invented until after 2nd world War – 500 years after middle age.
    It came about through huge changes in economics and life expectancy. The latter was almost double of what is was in the middle age. Nobody has time of emotional problem when you're lucky to reach 40.

  9. Infant mortality was much higher than today, however, if you managed to live to the age of 5, you could reasonable expect to live till 55 years of age. Nobility lower 60's. Longevity is only reduced to 40 years if you include mortality before the age of 1.

  10. I am just grateful that I was born in a world that has the luxuries that we currently have. It must've been torture back then.

  11. and so the culture of being a sociopath was quietly cultivated and encouraged as a means of accumulating power and authority and the almost banal existence of casual cruelty was accepted as a way of life…

  12. "i'm just trying to figure out who I am."
    "you're a blacksmith"
    "but…"
    "no shutup, you're a blacksmith, get back to work."
    "ok"

    Ahh, life was so much simpler back then.

  13. If i remember correctly the viking ages where many years before the midel ages and Vikings werent sexist so humanity got Worse over the years between those eras

  14. If I was born the way I am but in that time I whouldnt have survived long… I have a medical condition and I dont produce testosterone of my own and I have to slick hormone pills daily… If I lived in that time I whould probably been bullied and stuff because I am weak and tired all the time without my hormones… I am fine with but if I dont use them I can really feeel a difference… Glad I was born in 1999 I guess 🙂

  15. "it could be argued that being a horrible person is a better way of earning a high quality of life" —-> nothing has changed since the middle ages.

  16. Despite all of that, guys back then had less mental issues, and females were happier or at least less miserable than they are now, looks like harsh descipline is more benefitial than soft parenting

  17. tldr. feminism is only something a modern society can uphold. when western society falls all you women will have to go back to being wifes.

  18. Waw you seriously over egged the women were animals bit, this is meant to be history not post modern critical propaganda. 🤦🏼‍♂️

  19. The past was a glorious time, nature weeded out the weak, people were productive from a young age, and they had a honour society. The high risk of death is a small price to pay for all that freedom.

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