Historian Philippe Aries claimed that in medieval Europe childhood was not viewed as a distinct period in human development, with a special character and needs. His argument for this thesis relied heavily on medieval text illustrations, which distinguish children from adults principally by their stature, rather than by a distinctively childlike appearance: the children look like miniature adults. Aries also suggested that high infant mortality rates in the Middle Ages induced indifference toward offspring as a defense mechanism against establishing close ties with infants unlikely to survive. Shulamith Shahar's recent research challenges this established conception of the medieval view of childhood. She discusses the period in childhood from ages 7 to 11 when boys of the wealthier classes were placed in monasteries or as apprentices in the household of a “master” of a trade. To some this custom might imply a perception of childhood insufficiently distinguished from adulthood, or even indifference to children, evidenced by the willingness to send young children away from home. Shahar points out, however, that training was in stages, and children were not expected to live as adults or to assume all the tasks of maturity at once. Furthermore, Shahar quotes a telling number of instances in which parents of apprentices sued masters for maltreatment of their children. Shahar concludes that parents placed their children in monasteries or as apprentices not to be rid of them, but because it was a social norm to ensure one's children a future niche in society. Shahar's work is highly persuasive, but as a rebuttal to Aries, it is uncomfortably incomplete. She succeeds in demonstrating that people in the Middle Ages did view childhood as a definite stage in human development and that they were not indifferent toward their children. But central to Aries' position was the contention that the family as a powerful and private institution organized around children is a relatively modern ideal, whose origins Aries related to the growing influence of the middle classes in the postmedieval period. Aries felt that this implied something novel about the development of perceptions of childhood and of the family. Shahar does not comment on these larger issues.