Monday, May 12, 2008

Question from Missy - Tudor-era toys

I was wondering what kind of toys kids during the Tudor era would have played with. Did the royal children have any special toys?

3 comments:

PhD Historian said...

It took me a little while to do some research on this question, and I found that this is another of those areas of Tudor history that has not been properly studied. Research on Tudor-era children is sparse, even as a general category; their toys as a narrow category is sparser still. But from what I can find, dolls were common, made from wood, wax, or stuffed scraps of fabric. In fact, they were so common that in 1582 the government imposed a tax on foreign-made dolls. One author has written a book about miniature metal figures of various kinds, including toy soldiers, made for children prior to 1600, so they apparently had those as well. I also found an article about a toy ship from the 1500s that was unearthed in London. I have seen period engravings and paintings with depictions of children playing with balls, including soccer (football, for the non-Americans), and running at the hoop. Tops for spinning on the ground, also called scopperils, were common by 1500. Children might also play quoits, a game similar to the American game of horseshoes. Some Tudor-era children also had hobby-horses, as well as child-sized sets of dishes for "playing house." One author describes poorer children using unusually shaped stones or knots from trees as dolls and such. The greatest thing about children is their limitless imagination, so there is probably no end to the list of toys they made and invented for themselves.

Anonymous said...

You may find it worthwhile taking a look at the picture by Pieter Bruegel called Children's Games, which shows children at play; painted about 1560. If you google this, you will also find links to other sites with information which may be of use.

Anonymous said...

There is a wonderful illustration by John White (who was involved in the Roanoke colony) of a native American mother and daughter. The daughter is holding an Elizabethan doll given her by one of the colonists. If you google "cheife Herowans wyfe" it should come up.
--k