Saturday, June 06, 2009

Question from Jacque - Young children of courtiers

Where did young children of courtiers live while they were growing up? I don't ever remember hearing that children ever grew up at Court, but was it like this in every case? What if both of their parents had positions at Court and therefore had to live there all/most of the time?


PhD Historian said...

I think perhaps the concept of being "at court" is slightly misunderstood here. While it is true that lower-ranking persons in service in the royal household did actually have accommodations within the royal residence (palace, castle, or manor house), those of higher rank ... what we might call "courtiers" ... usually did not. Most persons of noble or aristocratic status who held offices at court owned one or more large houses in London or the vicinity. Thus there was recent discussion on this Q&A blog about the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk's house in the Lambeth section of modern London. There was also discussion some time ago regarding the gardens that lay between the palatial noble houses along the Strand and the River Thames.

The Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector under Edward VI, had Somerset House in the Strand, while Elizabeth's favorite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, had Leicester House in the same area. William Cecil, Lord Burghley, had Cecil House (also called Burghely House or Exeter House), also in the Strand, and William Russell had Bedford House. And those are just a few examples from among many.

So the children of wealthy courtiers were raised in their parents' houses, whether it was their London residence when they were at court, or a country seat when they were away from court. All children of wealthy families were raised with the assistance of servants (nurses, maids, tutors, etc). Neither parent was expected to be a fulltime caregiver to his or her children. And of course when a child reached a certain age ... usually about age 10 years ... he or she might go to live with a family of higher status in order to improve themselves.

Anonymous said...

Also to add to this, read Bring up the bodies, here Cromwell is called from his house in London to attend the King at Greenwich in the middle of the night, demonstrating that 'courtiers' or highly placed officials had residences near by the King.

Also York Place is a good demonstration, as is Lambeth Palace, both Houses of the Archbishops of England, and both within a stones throw of the center of government and Law. the former until it was obtained by Henry VIII by attender.