Deathbed and Burial Rituals in Late Medieval Catholic Europe

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Abstract

The “journey” of the medieval Christian body is followed in this chapter, from deathbed to final resting place and beyond. It commences with an examination of the practice of commending the soul, the process of separation, liturgies and mortuary rolls and then turns to material preparations of the body for burial. The funeral itself is treated subsequently: the choice of burial place and its location in cathedral, monastery or parish church; burial with the family and women’s burial choices. Burial of those excluded from consecrated ground – criminals, suicides, and the unbaptised – is also considered. There is detailed examination of the funeral and associated liturgies and practices: wills and the choice of funeral practices, transporting the body, bell ringing, development of the liturgy, funeral sermons, the expression of grief, elite funerals and monastic rituals. An important aspect of funerary practice was the material culture of death: hearses and palls, ritual offerings such as armour, grave goods (religious and secular artefacts, chalices, bullae), and specific burial practices, for example the use of charcoal, ashes, gravel, small stones, plants and flowers. There were also secular rituals such as the wearing of mourning clothes, funeral feasts and charitable distributions. A discussion of post-funerary rituals concludes the chapter, with consideration of rituals of intercession and commemorative services in the weeks after death, and installation of the tomb.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Death, Burial and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe c 1300-1700
EditorsPhilip Booth, Elizabeth Tingle
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Chapter6
Pages106-131
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-9004443433
ISBN (Print)978-9004361232
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Publication series

NameBrill's Companions to the Christian Tradition
PublisherBrill
Volume94

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