At the beginning of the seventeenth century, society was more or less divided into three groups. There was a group called the nobles. These commanded in battle and protected the country from their enemies. They had the highest rank possible. There was another group called the ‘clergy’. These people prayed and helped people go to heaven. The last and lowest group were the commoners these were the people that produced food.
As trading became more and more important and the agriculture techniques improved, the social division became more complex. Especially in Holland, trade was an important factor in the economy. Ten percent of Dutch boys and men were sailors. The Dutch had more ships than England, France, Germany, Portugal, Scotland and Spain combined. Also, food became cheaper, because the food production became more effective. Because of this citizens had more money to spend on other products which were then produced by the richer people.
This led to an increased amount of professions. However, most professions were only for men, women were housewives and took care of their husbands and children. If they worked, they worked as a maid most of the time. All with all most professions had to do with the production of food and other life sustaining products, the distribution of religion and protection the country.
Most women married at the age of 21 and most families got six or seven children. However, due to childhood illnesses and bad hygiene, there was a high infant mortality rate in the 17th century. Twelve percent of all babies died before the age of one year.
Childhood, as we know it nowadays, was an unknown concept. Children were seen as small adults as soon as they had achieved a minimum ability to take care of themselves. Very often they had to work just like the adults had to work. This is also seen in the medieval art, children were illustrated just like grown men or women.
Throughout the 17th century, the view on childhood changed. The family attitude towards the children changed into an attitude orientated around the children and their education. Therefore, their moral education became one of the main subjects in their (school) lives. More and more authors were writing stories for and about children. These were written to deliver a moral lesson in a nice way. This was also one of the reasons that fairy tales were more often published in this period.
In the first half of the 17th century there were wars of religion between the Protestants and the Catholics. In the beginning of the century the major religion was Christianity, but at the end of the century it was divided by Luther and other reformers. Also during the 17th century religious differences became of less importance because of the increased scientific atmosphere. Different countries and powers laid aside their differences to join forces against a common enemy. The Age of Enlightenment challenged Christianity in particular, because it argued that...