The publication some forty years ago of the landmark work by Philippe Ariès, entitled Centuries of Childhood in its widely-read English translation, unleashed decades of scholarly investigation of that once-neglected target, the child. Since then, historians have uncovered the traces of attitudes toward children — were they neglected, exploited, abused, cherished? — and patterns of child-rearing. They have explored such issues, among others, as the varieties of European household structure; definitions of the stages of life; childbirth, wetnursing, and the role of the midwife; child abandonment and the foundling home; infanticide and its prosecution; apprenticeship, servitude, and fostering; the evolution of schooling; the consequences of religious diversification; and the impact of gender. This essay seeks to identify key features and recent trends amid this abundance of learned inquiry.
While John Bale (1495–1563), in his contributions to the 1549 The Laboryouse Journey & Serche of Johan Leylande, attempted to mark a decisive break in England's literary history by radically differentiating, in Bale's view, the light of England's evangelical present from the darkness of its Catholic past, he felt compelled to deal with the persistence of the darkness he saw embodied by his contemporaries' treatment of English texts. Bale understood this treatment in an economic sense, insistently playing on the terms commodity and profit, which were invoked similarly by a moral economic discourse and an emerging politico-economic discourse articulated by Sir Thomas Smith (1513–77). Thus English literary texts appear in Bale's construction of national community both as trade-objects that circulate in an international economy, and as ideal tokens of English identity itself.
Public anatomies have been characterized as carnivalesque events: like the Carnival, they took place in January and February and celebrated bodily existence. However, in late sixteenth-century Padua and in its famous anatomy theater, the annual, public anatomy was a formal, ceremonial event. Girolamo Fabrici, the leading anatomist, gave a philosophical presentation of his research, a presentation organized by topic rather than by the gradual dissection of corpses. For medical students, the annual anatomy and the theater itself encouraged silence, obedience, and docility, reinforcing the virtues of civility that permeated the late humanist environment of Renaissance Padua.
The essay shows how two royalist recipe books — The Queens Closet Opened (1655) and The Court & Kitchin of Elizabeth (1664) — fashioned Henrietta Maria (1609–69) and Elizabeth Cromwell (1598–1665) as very different housewives to the English nation. By portraying the much-disliked French Catholic Henrietta Maria as engaged in English domestic practices, The Queens Closet Opened implicitly responded to the scandalous private revelations of The Kings Cabinet Opened (1645); while, in contrast, the satiric cookery book attributed to Elizabeth Cromwell stigmatized her as both a country bumpkin and a foreigner. Yet the cookery books also had unintended republicanizing effects, as consumers appropriated the contents of the queen's closet for their own cabinets and kitchens.