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This book investigates the relationship between ideas about childhood and the actual experience of being a child, and assesses how it has changed over the span of five hundred years. Hugh Cunningham tells an engaging story of the development of ideas about childhood from the Renaissance to the present, taking in Locke, Rosseau, Wordsworth and Freud, revealing considerable differences in the way western societites have understood and valued childhood over time. His survey of parent/child relationships uncovers evidence of parental love, care and, in the frequent cases of child death, grief throughout the period, concluding that there was as much continuity as change in the actual relations of children and adults across these five centuries. For undergraduate courses in History of the Family, European Social History, History of Children and Gender History.