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Death and the Noble Body in Medieval England by Danielle Westerhof

By Danielle Westerhof

All of us die, yet how we understand dying as an occasion, approach or country is inextricably attached to our studies and the social and environmental tradition within which we are living. in the course of the early center a while, the physique was once used to illustrate an entire diversity of ideas and assumptions: the correct aristocrat possessed a powerful, complete and virile physique which mirrored his internal virtues, and the Aristocracy of start was once understood to presuppose and increase the Aristocracy of personality and motion. the following, the writer examines how modern rules approximately loss of life and death disrupted this summary excellent. She explores the that means of aristocratic funerary practices resembling embalming and center burial, and, conversely, appears at what the gruesomely tricky executions of aristocratic traitors in England round the flip of the fourteenth century show concerning the function of the physique in perceptions of staff identification and society at huge.

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62 Moreover, although Thomas describes the effects of the burning fever which gradually weakens the Young King, he glosses over the fact that it was caused by dysentery. Neither does he see the need to elaborate on the preparation of the royal cadaver, while he highlights its miraculous preservation at forty days after Henry’s death when it finally arrived in Rouen. It was found to be whole and without signs of decay. 63 Clearly, Thomas has reconstructed the events of Henry’s final days and post-mortem journey in terms of a saintly paradigm, which stresses the virtues of the young man’s soul in an attempt to divert the attention from the acrimonious circumstances in which he had died.

L. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1983), pp. 12–13. 22 Twelfth-Century Homilies, pp. 124–5; Fasciculus morum: A Fourteenth-Century Preacher’s Handbook, ed. S. , 1989), p. 33. 23 Visio Tnugdali. Lateinisch und Altdeutsch, ed. A. Wagner (Hildesheim, 1989; 1882), p. 10; The Vision of Tnugdal, ed. and trans. M. Picard and Y. de Ponfarcy (Dublin, 1989), p. 114; Gervase of Tilbury, Otia imperialia: Recreation for an Emperor, ed. and trans. E. W. Binns, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 2002), pp. C. Schmitt, Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society (Chicago, 1998), pp.

Surrounded by family and possibly attended by their physician and a priest within the private space of the bedroom, it was possible to prepare one’s passing with ‘Death Natural and Unnatural’, in Death, Sickness and Health in Medieval Society and Culture, ed. J. , 2000), pp. 35–53. 1. 21 Twelfth-Century Homilies in MS Bodley 343, ed. O. Belfour, EETS os 137 (1909), pp. 136–7; R. ), Bestiary (Woodbridge, 1992), p. 149. Cf. the comment by Walter Map about the owl, which as one of the ‘creatures of the night’, is primarily concerned ‘to follow up the odour of carrion’.

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