Tattletales: Childhood and Authority in Eighteenth-Century France
Abstract

Abstract:

Children attending charity schools in Lyon and Paris, France, from 1689-1789 were required to report the immoral or illegal misdeeds their parents, siblings, household members, and strangers committed to their teacher and schoolmaster. This article analyzes how charity schools in both cities created child-police forces through this requirement that allowed for unprecedented surveillance of early modern households. These informal legal systems made of children complicated the power dynamics of early modern families. Instead of subservient and obedient members of the household, children were put in positions of power and authority. As a result, parental authority was limited and contested.