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Suicide in the Middle Ages

Alexander Murray

Published in print June 2000 | ISBN: 9780198207313
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191677625 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207313.001.0001
Suicide in the Middle Ages

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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A group of men dig a tunnel under the threshold of a house. Then they go and fetch a heavy, sagging object from inside the house, pull it out through the tunnel, and put it on a cow-hide to be dragged off and thrown into the offal-pit. Why should the corpse of a suicide—for that is what it is—have earned this unusual treatment? This book explores the origin of the condemnation of suicide, in a quest which leads along the most unexpected byways of medieval theology, law, mythology, and folklore—and, indeed, in some instances beyond them. In an epoch when there might be plenty of ostensible reasons for not wanting to live, the ways used to block the suicidal escape route give a unique perspective on medieval religion.

Keywords: suicide; condemnation of suicide; medieval theology; law; mythology; folklore; medieval religion

Book.  662 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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The Body in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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The Property in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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Religion in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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Philosophy in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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Law in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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Theology: The Age of Reticence in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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Theology: Suicide Discovered in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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Canonists and Jurists in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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Occasional Theology in Suicide in the Middle Ages

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