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Oct 5, 2024 - Jan 5, 2025

Growing Up in a Renaissance Palazzo

What was it like to be a child in Renaissance Italy? Every age defines this moment of transition differently. “Growing Up in a Renaissance Palazzo” explores what it meant to be a child in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. How were children expected to behave, who raised them, how were they educated? When were children considered “grown up,” or old enough to marry, or be considered a legal adult? It was once believed that high mortality rates made Renaissance parents less invested emotionally in their children, but in fact, children were vital to Renaissance families. Particularly during this period experiencing the Black Death, children—girls, too, but especially boys—were highly valued members of households, and strategies to maximize the size of families were pursued. Advice books instructing good household management, childcare practices, and childhood education proliferated, and the first pediatric medical texts were written. Artworks, found throughout domestic interiors in Renaissance Florence, also played important roles in raising children, teaching them proper behavior, responsibilities, and preparing them for adulthood. The virtuous family served as the foundation for virtuous civic life.

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