Chapter

The Cult of the Macabre

Nigel Saul

in English Church Monuments in the Middle Ages

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199215980
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191710001 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215980.003.0013
 The Cult of the Macabre

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Cadaver, or ‘transi’, monuments were a phenomenon of northern Europe in the period after the Black Death. This chapter argues that while cadavers found niche markets among the Lancastrian elite, the townsmen of eastern England, and the clergy of Kent and East Anglia, they were never more than a minority taste. Any attempt to interpret their significance must look at the variety of influences which shaped the taste of individual patrons. Among these might be tastes in personal piety, an interest in the ars moriendi literature, and traditions of family commemoration. The chapter suggests that the iconography of cadaver tombs, so far from morbid, played on the familiar themes of bodily resurrection and salvation of the soul.

Keywords: cadaver; transi; resurrection; ars moriendi; piety; iconography; eastern England; Kent; East Anglia

Chapter.  11490 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Religion

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