This conception accords with a way of life that characterized European society until the 17th century. Prior to the invention of childhood as a control system which holds together the bourgeois nuclear family in the way of a moral institution, children were neither innocent nor needy, neither pampered nor maltreated, but instead "small people", albeit not of too great importance in a juvenile population where life was brief and tomorrow full of uncertainty. Instead of meeting with arrogance, egocentricity and ignorance, however, they encountered friendliness, role models and challenges which made them capable of autonomous, actively relevant decisions already at an early age - as many sources prove. The precondition for this was a social milieu which the family offered economic and social but not moral support. Such secular feelings, however, contradicted both the salvation pedagogy of the church and the reason of state.