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Thumbnail of the graph of wills in Bologna

Will-making among the general populace of Bologna during 1348

The graph displays the number of wills by gender made each month in the city and countryside of Bologna during 1348 that were copied into the city notarial registers, known as the Libri Memoriali. The graph shows that during the first half of the year there are more female than male testators, which is unusual for medieval Italy.

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Thumbnail of dance of death illustration

The Dance of Death

Children are not frequent subjects of medieval art, but the figure of the child does occur in a medieval artistic and literary form known as the Danse macabre or Dance of the Dead.

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Thumbnail of ostracon rock


In Greek and Roman times children and adults often wrote on ostraca (that is, pieces of broken pottery and limestone flakes). They were costless and convenient writing materials. On this flat limestone piece a student practiced letters of the alphabet. S/He did not do so at random but tried to reproduce a nonsensical verse that contained all the letters.

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Thumbnail of drawing of girl and angel

The Red Shoes

Folktales have been used for generations to teach moral tales to children. They have shifted over time depending upon the generation and location of the tale but remain part of the childhood experience for many young people. "The Red Shoes" published by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845 is a quintessential European folktale.

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Ivory Doll

This finely carved ivory doll with moveable arms and legs was found in the grave of a girl approximately five years of age in Tarragona, Spain, a port city south of Barcelona. It dates to the 3rd or 4th century CE. The girl's skeleton was adorned with a gold thread around the neck and along its length, probably a border on her burial dress.

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Thumbnail of Madonna and child painting

Madonna and Child, 1295–1300

This panel painting represents an innovation in the history of western European painting and a moment in religious iconography: depiction of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus in Byzantine icons was traditionally symbolic. In the past, the figures were not humanized, but represented the qualities of divine beings and episodes in sacred history.

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Thumbnail of graffiti image of girl

Pippi Graffiti Stencil

This image found on a wall around the University of Vienna and the Austrian Parliament, in 2008, is a graffiti stencil of Pippi Longstocking, the eponymous fictional character created by the Swedish children's book author, Astrid Lindgren, in 1945. Since then, Pippi Långstrump (in Swedish) has been translated into 90 languages and made into movies and TV series.

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Thumbnail of a drawing of man cutting a boy with scissors

Der Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter)

Published in 1858, Der Struwwelpeter (Shaggy Peter) is a German children's book first published anonymously under a different title in 1845 by Heinrich Hoffman. Hoffman, a Frankfurt physician and father, wrote the book after realizing that there were none he wanted to buy for his 3-year-old son for Christmas. The first English translation was published in 1848.

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Thumbnail of children's games painting

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s "Children's Games"

Flemish painter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted "Children's Games" in 1560. While many of his other paintings also portray peasant folk culture, this summer townscape that is devoid of adults is rich in detail about Medieval children—especially at play.

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Max und Moritz

Written and illustrated by German painter and poet, Wilhelm Busch, Max und Moritz (1865) is a children's story written in doggerel verse and illustrated in a comic-like style about two unscrupulous boys who taunt adults with their sadistic pranks.

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