Famous children in history
February 28, 2011 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples of children that have played pivotal roles in history.

Google provides examples of child-activists in recent history, and of children who were in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time like Anne Frank. What I'm really looking for are examples of children who were at the center of important world events. Joan of Arc is closer to the kind of thing I'm looking for, but still not exactly right. Child royalty maybe. Well known children of better known historical figures. Am I making sense?

This is a writing exercise, I want to retell a familiar story from the past through the voice of a child who was at the center of the events. I think a story from classical mythology would work as well.
posted by Slarty Bartfast to Society & Culture (39 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just to clarify -- by "child" do you mean "under 18" or "pre-pubescent" or...?
posted by brainmouse at 4:59 PM on February 28, 2011


King Tut.
posted by pecanpies at 5:00 PM on February 28, 2011


Does it have to be a happy/uplifting story? Lady Jane Grey and the princes in the tower were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
posted by parkerjackson at 5:02 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to the Bible, Josiah became the king of Judah when he was only eight years old.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 5:04 PM on February 28, 2011


The Children's Crusade.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:05 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Elizabeth I of England had a very exciting childhood.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:07 PM on February 28, 2011


Los Niños Heroes.
posted by chrchr at 5:09 PM on February 28, 2011


Romulus and Remus.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:10 PM on February 28, 2011


Elian Gonzalez was in the center of a huge controversy and probably helped swing the 2000 election for Bush by alienating the Cuban-American community against Clinton/Gore.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:10 PM on February 28, 2011


Also child hostages, maybe?
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:12 PM on February 28, 2011


Check out all of these folks who had minority reigns. Also, Marie Antoinette was 15 when she married the future Louis XVI - she was 12 when negotiations commenced, and IIRC not quite 20 when Louis XVI was crowned.
posted by SMPA at 5:17 PM on February 28, 2011


And if you're interested in Bible stuff - there's also Daniel and David and Samuel.
posted by SMPA at 5:20 PM on February 28, 2011


The accusers at the Salem Witch Trials, although that may not be such an important world event.
posted by dilettante at 5:26 PM on February 28, 2011


Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus--the third Emporer of Rome--as a little boy accompanied his father the General Germanicus on his field campaigns. The soldiers even nicknamed him "Little Boots." The nickname stuck, and you know him as Caligula.
posted by General Tonic at 5:27 PM on February 28, 2011


Antinoös, Hadrian's teenage consort?
posted by Nomyte at 5:27 PM on February 28, 2011


Svetlana Alliluyeva would have been a child throughout the Stalinisation of the USSR in the late 1920s and 1930s, although she probably didn't see her father very often.

Juan Carlos I of Spain spent the early years of his life as an exile from the Spanish Republic, and from the Civil War, with his father the former King Alfonso XIII, and grew up a political pawn between General Franco and the pro-monarchists who supported his regime.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:29 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]




Jesus was twelve years old or so when he started getting noticed for preaching. Also, isn't the Dalai Lama identified as a wee tot. Hasn't the next one been identified? What am I thinking of?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:30 PM on February 28, 2011


Lost Boys of Sudan
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:31 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also Puyi, whose story is a well-known film.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:33 PM on February 28, 2011


This is awesome, perfect.

I will define "child" as someone who is more interested in child-things than world events, generally pre-pubescent.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:34 PM on February 28, 2011


Pocahantas was thirteen.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:35 PM on February 28, 2011


The Kangxi Emperor came to the throne aged only seven, and at fifteen had one of his regents arrested and began exercising power more in his own right.
posted by Abiezer at 5:36 PM on February 28, 2011


For the POV thing, I'm a big, big fan of the children of Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and John Adams. John Quincy Adams became Francis Dana's private secretary during our first mission to Russia, for example, at the age of 14. Conversely, his brother Charles pretty much had his life ruined by his father's absences. And there's a really great Atlantic crossing or two, for the drama. The Roosevelt boys had that pony in the White House residential area, and later all ended up serving in WWI (one of them flying with Eddie Rickenbacker and dying in a crash, leaving behind his fiancee, a Vanderbilt girl.)

Oh, and there's Sally Hemmings. Around 15, per Abigail Adams, when she traveled to France, accompanying Jefferson's younger daughter Polly as a nanny.
posted by SMPA at 5:38 PM on February 28, 2011


The Little Rock Nine, Sylvia Mendez (recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom... and Ruby Bridges
posted by KogeLiz at 5:41 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The children in Great Britain who were sent out of London, even overseas, during the Second World War. Sent off to live with strangers in most cases. Yes, lives changed forever.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:41 PM on February 28, 2011


oh, maybe I answered the question incorrectly. Oh well.
posted by KogeLiz at 5:42 PM on February 28, 2011


Lambert Simnel
posted by phoenixy at 5:54 PM on February 28, 2011


Pavlik Morozov became a Stalinist legend, although his story may or may not have any basis in fact.
posted by besonders at 6:08 PM on February 28, 2011


Alexei Nikolaevich, the son of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was 13 when he, his four older sisters and his parents were executed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. He had suffered from hemophilia and his mother's reliance on the infamous Rasputin to treat his illness was one of the many catalysts for the fall of Imperial Russia.
posted by platinum at 6:49 PM on February 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy?
posted by SisterHavana at 8:30 PM on February 28, 2011


Joseph Meister, 9 years old, test subject for the first rabies vaccine.
posted by lakeroon at 8:47 PM on February 28, 2011


The children in Great Britain who were sent out of London, even overseas, during the Second World War. Sent off to live with strangers in most cases. Yes, lives changed forever.

Along similar lines, I'd suggest Elizabeth II and/or Princess Margaret, who stayed in England through WWII despite recommendations that they evacuate to Canada.

From the Wiki:

"At Windsor, the princesses staged pantomimes at Christmas in aid of the Queen's Wool Fund, which purchased yarn to knit into military garments. It was from Windsor in 1940 that the 14-year-old Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast during the BBC's Children's Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities...In 1943, at the age of 16, Elizabeth undertook her first solo public appearance on a visit to the Grenadier Guards, of which she had been appointed Colonel-in-Chief the previous year. In February 1945, she joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service...She trained as a driver and mechanic, drove a military truck, and was promoted to honorary Junior Commander five months later."

All of this was before age 20, but you could focus on the earlier bits if you want a younger perspective, or use Margaret, who didn't do much herself but certainly would have seen a lot of interesting things.
posted by naoko at 9:44 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe a bit out of left field, but then 13-year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki gave an impassioned speech at the closing session of the UN Rio Earth Summit in 1992, gaining worldwide attention.
posted by just_ducky at 9:46 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Edward VI was king of England and Ireland from the age of 9 until his death at the age of 15 (1547-1553).

Baldwin V was king of Jerusalem from the age of 6 until his death at the age of 9 (1183-1186).

Lhamo Dondrub
"was selected as the rebirth of the 13th Dalai Lama two [after his birth], although he was only formally recognized as the 14th on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15."
posted by epimorph at 9:55 PM on February 28, 2011


Richard II was 14 when the Peasant's Revolt took place in England. Whether you would say he had a child's view of the world at that age in that time is debatable.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:29 AM on March 1, 2011


King James VI of Scotland and I of England was crowned when he was 13 months old.
posted by Lycaste at 7:25 AM on March 1, 2011


Louise Brown?
Elian Gonzalez?
posted by holterbarbour at 5:28 PM on March 1, 2011


Suzanne Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, who was literally the daughter of Revolutionary France. Crazy story, not very well known.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:11 PM on March 1, 2011


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