Jen B asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

What was education like for boys and girls in 16th Century europe?

i have an assignemnt at school, and i'd really like to know what education was like during the 16th century, did it differ for boys and girls, and did it differer betweens nobels and poor people?


11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    In general, only boys go to school. A girl's education is accomplished at home, although it usually includes reading and arithmetic.

    Of course, noble children get their education at home, from private tutors.

    Public education refers to going out to school, as opposed to being tutored at home. It does not mean they are paid for out of public funds. Hence, the great "public schools" like Eton.

    The school day begins at 7:00am in winter or 6:00am in summer. After prayers, they work till about 9:00 when they are permitted breakfast, then they work till 11:00. Dinner is from 11:00 to 1:00. The school day ends at 5:00 or 5:30pm.

    It is understood that students must have their education beaten into them, like their manners and deportment.

    The most elementary level of schooling is called petty school. You learn to read and write in English and do sums, but the main idea is to get you into grammar school.

    The petty school is often run by a young wife who teaches the local children in her home for a small fee, like the "dame schools" of Colonial days.

    The primary study of a grammar school is Latin grammar, using Lily's Grammar as the basic text, with Plautus, Terence, and Seneca as classical sources. Any history, literature, or drama is mainly a vehicle for illustrating the grammar.

    The function of the grammar school is to prepare you for university, where courses are conducted in Latin, even after the Reformation. Music, modern languages, and science are irrelevant.

    Latin is also the language of international affairs, and men of affairs are expected to be able to communicate in it. Or employ someone who does. Anyone (not-noble) who wants to make his way in the world must have at least a working knowledge of Latin.

    A private education takes a slightly broader view. The young earl of Essex followed this daily programme while a ward in Burghley's house:

    7:00-7:30 Dancing 1:00-2:00 Cosmography

    7:30-8:00 Breakfast 2:00-3:00 Latin

    8:00-9:00 French 3:00-4:00 French

    9:00-10:00 Latin 4:00-4:30 Writing

    10:00-10:30 Writing and Drawing 4:30-5:30 Prayers, Recreation, Supper

    10:30-1:00 Prayers, Recreation, Dinner

    Notice that there is time for writing but not for spelling. After all, what good is a man who can only spell his name one way?

    If you have a university education (or know someone who has), you should be at least slightly familiar with the following course of study, which has been in place since medieval times. Courses in beer and mayhem are supplementary.

    In the Faculty of the Arts

    Aristotle on...:

    Logical or Rational Philosophy: Organon, Categories, On Interpretation, Analytics, etc.

    Moral Philosophy: Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric, Poetics

    Natural Philosophy, or Natural History: Physical Discourse, On the Heavens, On the Soul, On Parts of Animals, Meteorologics,, etc.

    The Seven Liberal Arts

    Grammar (authors: Priscian, Donatus, Villedieu, Cassiodorus, and some pagan and early Christian writers.)

    Rhetoric (Quintillian, Cicero, Eberhard de Bethune)

    Logic (Porphyry, Gilbert de la Poré, Hispanus)

    Arithmetic (John of Holywood, John of Pisa)

    Geometry (Euclid, Boëthius)

    Music (Boëthius, Jehan de Muris of Paris)

    Astronomy (Gerard de Cremona)

    In the Faculty of Law

    The principal Latin authorities are:

    In civil law

    Corpus Juris Civilis, the Code, the Pandects (a digest), the Institutes, the Novellae

    In canon (church) law

    Gratian, Bartholomew, Pope Gregory IX, Pope Boniface VIII, Constitutiones Clementiae

    In the Faculty of Theology

    The Bible, Peter Lombard, Church Fathers and great doctors of the church such as Origen

    In the Faculty of Medicine

    Hippocrates, Galen, Arabic and Jewish medical texts, Theodore of Lucca, Lanfranci, Chauliac

    Some specialized authorities

    Isidore of Seville: Etymologiae (On Language) and Sententiae (Maxims)

    Rabanus Maurus, On the Universe and On the Instruction of the Clergy

    (Emperor) Frederick II, The Falcon Book

    Gordanus Rufus, On Horse Healing

    There's this site also;

    Mount Joy Schoole of Boys


    | Town | Clothing Shoppe | School | School Yard | Tavern | Food Table |

    | Traveling Musicians | Wedding | Children |


    Attention class! Settle down, boys! Everybody sit in you proper rows and take out your horn books. We will start today with a new song on the organ called Greensleeves. Oh, who are you? You must be new here. Oh, my name is James, but you must call me head-master Robinson. I'll show you around and explain what we do here in the Mount Joy Schoole of boys founded 70 years ago by my grandfather.

    As you probably know, schools are only for boys now-a-days, and girls are rarely accepted. A young ladies' and women's place is in the kitchen and the home, taking care of the children and serving food.



    Schoole Days

    Home Schooling

    Etiquette and Rules

    The Horn Book

    Funding and Punishment

    School Yard - Language

    Back to Town



    As you know, our alphabet has only 24 letters with the capital I and J interchangeable. The J is often used as the capitiol form of I. The letters U and V are similarly equivalent, with I being used at the beginning of a word and U used toward the middle. For instance, your "I have an uncle" is written as "J haue an vncle."

    There is a special character to represent your th that resembles a y. It actually comes from an ancient runic letter called 'Thorn'. When you see "Ye Olde Tea Shoppe", the "ye " should be pronounced as the.

    There are no dictionaries, so our spelling is largely built on custom, and we write words phonetically, or by the way they sound. Still, the normal way of spelling is very similar to the way you spell. The most obvious difference is that we often add a final "e" to words that we don't necessarily need them. For example "school" is often written as "schoole". In printed books, there are two principle typefaces: Blackletter type and Roman. The Blackletter type, like the secretary hand, is derived from medieval writing; it looks like what we sometimes like to call "Old English". Roman type, like italics, is associated with classic learning and is currently replacing Blackletter type entirely. Your writing is based on Roman type. Italics are also used especially to set important words off from surrounding Roman text.

    Back to the Top



    The Mount Joy Schoole for boys is an example of a petty school. If a family is rich or the boy shows enough talent to earn a scholarship, he might go to a grammar school. This stage of school lasts five to ten years, typically to age 12 or so. A child can sometimes get in at 7 or 8, but either he has to be wealthy or the father must have a clever way to get the money from someone else. The "grammar" taught at grammar school was Latin language and literature. I'm debating about including French or Greek; Latin is our main emphasis. A boy who learns Latin can not only absorb the wisdom of ancient authors, but can also read the works of some contemporary scholars, for Latin is the international language. Older students at my schoole are expected to speak Latin at all times in the classroom and will be punished for speaking English. Grammar schoole teachers like myself are mostly likely University graduates. Since it is very rare for a girl to be admitted to a petty school, you can only imagine how hard it is for one to be admitted to a grammar school. However, there are special boarding schools for girls. I won't accept them here!

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    Schoole days

    If you plan on attending Mount Joy, be prepared to work hard! I adhere to the typical school hours: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with Breakfast and Dinner served. There is a break during the day. You must eat supper at your own home. You will have Thursday and Saturday afternoons off, with two week holidays for Christmas and Easter. School is never in session on Sundays, because it is a day of rest, and you're expected to go to mass. Some grammar schools board their students, but mine, since we are located in towne, is a day school.

    Back to the Top


    Home Schooling

    You don't have to go to school, and if your family lacks the funds or they need you to work, you will stay home and help out with the family business. Most people I know cannot read or write, unfortunately, and can do little else besides their particular jobs.

    I've seen where a man has to sign a deed or a contract and must draw a symbol that recognizes him because he can't write. Most girls do not go to school, unless they show a talent that surpasses that of most boys. They instead stay at home and learn to sew, spin, cook and run the house. Even in the smallest of houses, there is so much to be done that they keep busy. Wealthy girls are also taught reading and writing, but they still do not get the same schooling as boys.

    Back to the Top


    Etiquette and Rules

    Etiquette is taught and will be enforced throughout all of your schooling, but will mainly be taught at home. You are required at all times to be well-mannered and polite and cannot speak to any adult unless you are spoken to first. (Emergencies are an exception, though). Don't interrupt or argue with an adult. You should be grateful for any kindness at all given by an adult. Stand when an adult enters a room, take off your hat, and bow or curtsy, even if you hate that particular adult.

    Back to the Top


    The Horn Book

    In Petty schools, you learn the alphabet from a horn book, not at all like the book you have in your pocket, but rather like a little wooden bat like the kind you would use in cricket. The alphabet and the Lord's prayer are written on a piece of paper. The paper is stuck on the wooden bat and a thin, transparent piece of deer or elk horn is fixed over it. Since the horn is transparent, you will be able to see the alphabet underneath. The books are to be shared between yourself and several students during class because books are extremely expensive. Wealthy families can afford their own horn book, and sometimes the families crest, code of arms, or symbol is inscribed on the back.

    Back to the Top


    Funding and Punishment

    All schools are paid for by rich men who want their own children to have an education. Unlike yours, none of our schools are paid for by public money. If you are caught being naughty or you come in late to my classroom, be forewarned! I have a birch rod handy to dole out any punishment or I may have to hit you on the hand with a ferula, (a flat piece of wood, similar to a ruler with a circular knob on one end), to make my point! One school master I know used to beat his pupils on a cold morning to keep himself warm. You should be glad you aren't thinking of going to HIS school!

    Back to the Top


    Written and Compiled by Adam Sorkin and Eric Schaefges



    Picture by Bonnie Panagakis, Virtual Renaissance Team



    Harrison, Molly and Shiela Maguire (illustrator). Children in History: Sixteenth and

    Seventeenth Centuries . University Printing House. Cambridge, G.B., 1978.

  • 4 years ago

    Education In The 16th Century

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site

    It depends on where they lived, but in Europe, children were treated as little adults. From the time they walked, children were dressed as adults, and were expected to conduct themselves accordingly. In the lower classes, children worked as hard as their parents. They were expected to help raise food, mind their smaller siblings, and education was nonexistent. Extremely poor families that had more than one son could try to apprentice them to a trade, such as blacksmithing or tanning. If the child was born into the middle class, then they were fortunate enough to have more to eat than the lower classes. If the family had a trade, then the sons were apprenticed into the trade as soon as possible, to help the family business prosper. Girls were expected to cook, sew, and learn other housekeeping skills. Education might be a possibility for some boys, but it was rare. In the high classes, education was given to the boys of the family. If there was a trade involved, then education focused on the trade. Boys and girls were more than likely assigned to governesses, who were like full-time nannies, responsible for their entertainment and care. Girls could learn things like embroidery or music, and were given lessons in ettiquette and deportment. Either way... being a kid in the 16th century wasn't much fun.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Children were brought up to be 'God fearing' and 'know their place'. There were very difined roles for boys and girls. Only the aristocracy tended to educate girls and then only for the things she would need for running a home and family. The man was seen as the provider and the woman the home maker. She always looked after the keys of the house. The church used the bible to instill the 'order' of society. A very hierarchical society where the husband was head of his household as God was head of the church. A woman in charge was seen as very bad. Children were brought up to accept this. The vast majority of children did not make it to their fifth birthday, so parents did not on the whole get as attached to their children as parents of today. If they got past childhood and girls did not die in childbirth, they had a chance of a fairly long life.

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  • 5 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Maybe education was expensive for them, and poor people as treated badly. Same thing happened to Indonesia in the 1800s, when the Dutch colonialized Indonesia.

  • 4 years ago


    Source(s): Earn Writing Article
  • 1 decade ago

    Based on what I recall of the life of Shakespeare:

    I don't think poor people were taught how to read or write.

    The middle class had schools that most likely would have been for boys only. They would have been taught the Bible and Latin.

    The nobility would have the choice to educate their daughters as well as their sons through private tutors. I think they learned music as well as the Bible and Latin. Perhaps other subjects also inlcuding foreign languages I would think.

    I found this site:

    " Summary of main features of Renaissance schooling and some related developments (15th and 16th centuries)

    - Primary schools: based mainly on parish church provisions; found also in some monasteries, palaces; also associated with some grammar schools; also private venture. Curriculum focused on Latin speaking and reading, writing, arithmetic, religion, morals.

    - Limited access to schooling, except for elites; more opportunity in cities, towns, larger villages.

    - Primary school students: small percentage of population.

    - Secondary schooling: variety of auspices, e.g., mainly ecclesiastical, town, guild, endowed. Emphasis on Latin and Greek, classics.

    - Secondary school students: fraction of population, mainly for boys of ruling families and upper social classes; rarely recommended for girls, although domestic opportunities sometimes existed among elites, also in certain convents.

    - Some bright, poor boys advanced socially and economically through schooling, paid for by benefactors.

    - Major aims of secondary schooling: develop skills, values, and interpretive perspectives considered appropriate to leadership roles in the governance of society or in the professions of law, medicine, ministry, or occupations of teaching in Latin grammar schools or colleges; hence grammar schools were mainly preparatory for colleges and universities.

    - Development of printing press technology (15th c., 2nd half); 16th c. proliferation of books, pamphlets, textbooks, manuals, prints."

    You can also look up Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare to see what their education would have been.

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    4 years ago

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  • 1 decade ago

    The catholic church was very powerful back then, so maybe it was all based God and the Devil. I think they wanted to keep people ignorant so that they will obey the kings and the church. many people died because they had different opinions and ideas. Leonardo had to write backwards so that his ideas be secret.

  • 1 decade ago

    I hope better then now :-)

    Hi from Germany

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