Byzantine Childhood : Representations and Experiences of Children in Middle Byzantine Society book cover
1st Edition

Byzantine Childhood
Representations and Experiences of Children in Middle Byzantine Society

ISBN 9780367332112
Published August 27, 2021 by Routledge
262 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Byzantine Childhood examines the intricacies of growing up in medieval Byzantium, children’s everyday experiences, and their agency. By piecing together a wide range of sources and utilising several methodological approaches inspired by intersectionality, history from below and microhistory, it analyses the life course of Byzantine boys and girls and how medieval Byzantine society perceived and treated them according to societal and cultural expectations surrounding age, gender, and status. Ultimately, it seeks to reconstruct a more plausible picture of the everyday life of children, one of the most vulnerable social groups throughout history and often a neglected subject in scholarship. Written in a lively and engaging manner, this book is necessary reading for scholars and students of Byzantine history, as well as those interested in the history of childhood and the family.

Table of Contents


1. Conceptions of childhood

2. The social and physical world of Byzantine children

3. How it all starts: the first years of Byzantine children’s lives

4. Growing up in a Byzantine Family: socialization in the domestic sphere

5. The child in the church: constructing religious identity

6. Life in the human hive: family networks and the social life of the household

7. The monastic-to-be: life within monastery walls

8. Through the eyes of children: two narratives of Byzantine children’s everyday life


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Oana-Maria Cojocaru is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Umeå, Sweden, where she is conducting a project on disabled children in Byzantium. She was awarded a PhD from the University of Oslo, where she was part of the international project ‘Tiny Voices from the Past: New Perspectives on Childhood in Early Europe’. She has taught about perceptions and conceptions of childhood in the Middle Ages and shared her research on the everyday life experiences of Byzantine children in talks and publications. She is co-editor of Childhood in History: Perceptions of Children in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (Routledge 2018).