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The challenges of quantifying youth and age in the medieval north

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Chapter Summary

Age is ?an organising principle that we all of us live with all of the time',1 but to define youth and age today, let alone in society of a thousand years ago, is difficult indeed. Although the study of the medieval life cycle has advanced in recent years, the focus has been on aspects of youth and age in high and late medieval societies, mostly within southern Europe. The societies of the medieval north shared customs, poetry and arts which emerged from a pre-Christian Germanic worldview. The intermediate stages of the life cycle can be more difficult to identify and study in the cultural record. The stages of life generally referred to in classical and Christian writings were infantia (?infancy', 0-7 years), pueritia (?early childhood', 7-12 years), adolescencia (?adolescence', 12-14 to 20), juventus (?adulthood', 20-40 years), senectus (?old age, 40-60 years), and senium (?senility', 60 to death).

Keywords: medieval north; old age; quantifying youth



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