Article

Death and Dying in England

Chris Daniell

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online May 2014 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0149
Death and Dying in England

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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The study of medieval death and burial as an academic subject is relatively recent and has expanded greatly in the last three decades. In the 1960s the archaeological treatment of later medieval burials and associated bodies was almost nonexistent. While antiquarian scholars were usually interested in the local (whether individual monuments or churches), scholars such as Aries (Aries 1974 and Aries 1981, both cited under European Medieval Studies and Cultural Significance) who opened up the historical study to new approaches. Aries 1981 examined how death was perceived for over a thousand years from Roman times to the late 20th century. The majority of the study is about France, with elements from other European countries. There are four sections, with the early medieval being covered by The Tame Death (where death is a period of sleep, with the death ritual being central) and The Death of the Self (latter half of the Middle Ages) where individual memory and status come to the fore. While the work can be criticized, for example, for having considerable overlap between the sections, the book sparked heightened awareness of the subject. Since then, the historical study of death and burial has quickened, with numerous books, chapters, and articles covering a wide range of subjects. In parallel with the historical growth of scholarship there has been a growing realization within the archaeological community that there is a great deal to be learned from burials. In particular the scientific revolution has meant that isotope analysis and DNA analysis can be undertaken to reveal patterns of migration or family groupings within the archaeological record. The archaeological evidence of cemeteries and burials is given elsewhere in the Oxford Bibliographies article Medieval Archaeology in Britain, Twelfth to Fifteenth Centuries, The study of death and burial has now become a part of mainstream academic study in both medieval history and archaeology.

Article.  14491 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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