Feelings of the Stages of Life. The Education of Princes in the Modern Era as a Privileged Observation Point
Abstract Starting from Philippe Ariès’s reflections on the “feeling of childhood” (sentiment de l’enfance) and the stages of life as social constructions, which are at the crossroads of various research pathways that reshape the panorama of sources, and considering the extensive debate on the issue, this essay discusses childhood and old age from a privileged observation point, i. e. the education of princes at some European courts. Different types of sources, dating to the time between the 15thand the 18th century, such as specula and institutiones principum, fables and ad hoc texts, all of which deal with the education of princes and sovereigns at Italian and French courts, are here analysed. Particular emphasis will be put on the relationships between childhood / youth and old age that can be observed in the pedagogical debates of the specific periods and contexts in question. In the conclusion, some research perspectives that could be conducted with a longterm approach are pointed out: besides the ecologically oriented perspective, these issues concern the interconnections between cultural representations of the princes’ life stages, political problems and education in the art of government.