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When Philippe Ariès (1914–1984) published his L’Enfant et la vie familiale sous l’Ancien Régime in 1960, the work was generally ignored by French academics. But when the English translation became available 2 years later, with the title Centuries of Childhood, its reputation began to soar. Scholars in the United States and Britain were among the first to appreciate the ambition and originality of the book, and it eventually came to transform the history of childhood and the family. This entry discusses the life and works of Philippe Ariès, his description of childhood in medieval history, and his assessment of childhood in early modern history.

Besides historians, specialists in a number of other disciplines readily cited it, including sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists. Not surprisingly, Ariès stood out ...

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