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Young People

During the twelfth century, life would have been very different for young people than it is today…

Life for children was very varied, in some ways it was certainly easier for the very wealthy, although life was still difficult for them. For example, some children faced a lot of responsibility such as succeeding kingdoms and duchies!

William the Conqueror was around eight years old when he became Duke of Normandy in 1035. In 1056 a child had succeeded as king of Germany and in 1060 the same had happened in France. All three survived as rulers into adulthood and had long reigns. A lot of responsibility to have at such a young age! See more about William’s childhood here.

In fact one possible contender to the crown was Edgar the Ætheling, who was thought to be only fourteen years old at this time…


Woman and child, FLEEING burning BUILDING  Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry - 11th CenturY with special permission from the City of Bayeux

Woman and child, FLEEING burning BUILDING

Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry - 11th CenturY with special permission from the City of Bayeux

This is very different to other young people’s experiences during the Battle of Hastings. One example documented in the Bayeux Tapestry, depicted children’s lives very different to that of Edgar’s…

A child and their mother are shown escaping from a burning house in the days before the Battle of Hastings. This scene shows that warfare in the Middle Ages could often be terrible for women, children and non-combatants. This particular incident happened because William the Conqueror’s army was devastating the countryside in Sussex. This was partly in order to feed his army, but it was also a war tactic to intimidate the English and to draw Harold in to fight a battle. William was undermining Harold by showing England that their King, Harold could not protect his people – and therefore forcing him to come and fight / defend his country.


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SPEECH ACTIVITY…

How would you feel if you had to take on being a ruler at such a young age? What would you write in a speech to your new subjects…