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Introduction The burial practices in Medieval England dealt fairly closely with the Christian theology pertaining to death and with social standing of.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction The burial practices in Medieval England dealt fairly closely with the Christian theology pertaining to death and with social standing of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction The burial practices in Medieval England dealt fairly closely with the Christian theology pertaining to death and with social standing of members in the society. In order to help to prevent the soul going to an undesirable place, such as purgatory or hell, the living would offer prayers to help the deceased to heaven. It was believed that burial with memorialization and along with being closer to the church would remind the living to remember and pray for the people to passed away. Such burials could be found in York Minister, York UK (Picture taken by P. Baase, Fall 2008) Burial within a Church Before the 10th century, the burial practice was primarily reserved for the religious elites (Boddington 1991: ), but it started to become connected with the ruling elites because of their ability to patron and to build/rebuild churches, such as Anglo-Saxon kings from Aethelberht and later the Norman conquers. (Hadley 2001:142; James 1989:29). It was thought that the burial location, with the benefit having memorialization, would “ensure their future in heaven (Colman 1997:101).” Christian Theology Christian theology involved around where the soul went after death. The Catholic Church had developed three main categories for the dead: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. As the death practice developed, the clergy became important as “spiritual intermediaries between the living community and God” and had the abilities to determine the deceased place in the afterlife (Hadley 2001:131). Vanessa Harding, who wrote The Dead and the Living in Paris and London, , said about memorialization: “Apart from its possible role in protecting as well as marking the burial place of the deceased, the physical memorial had for the Catholic the aim of assisting his or her salvation by invoking prayer and intercession as well as of, securing a different kind of immortality fro his or her personal identity (Harding 2002: 157).” The ruins of Whitby Abbey, Whitby UK (Picture taken by P. Baase, Fall 2007) Churchyard Burial The churchyard was second in the hierarchy of burial places, which was more assessable to middle and lower classes, because it was a cheaper option and convenient (Harding 2002:56). Memorialization was not always approved and prevent the use of the churchyard more fully for other activities. It was sometimes used for activities like a meeting place, hosting plays, have markets, and games (such as football and wrestling) (Hadley 2001:174). Although it was possible to have grave slabs, some religious leaders disapproved; for example, Matthew Wren of Diocese of Ely believed that such practices would cause a cemetery to look “pestered” (Cressy 1997:470). Burial in a Separate Cemetery Burial in a separate cemetery was a final option in the Medieval England. A separate cemetery usually accommodates a few different parts of the society, from the poor, prisoners, suicide victims to those dissenting against the traditional church and those of different religion. A prime example is The New Churchyard in London that was established after the plague of 1563 for preparation for future plagues and had low costs (Harding 2002:96). “Suicides and nonconformists, who is different ways excluded themselves from the moral community of the establish church, were often buried there as were the unclaimed bodies of prisoners who died at Newgate. Inevitably also it received a heavy charge of plague victims (Harding 2002:96).” For example, Jews would be separated and in their own cemetery. There graves were clustered together and there is less evidence of disturbing (which was abnormal for the time period) (Hadley 2001:122). St. Mary Church, next to the Abbey, Whitby UK (Taken by P. Baase, Fall 2007) Conclusion Even though burial was greatly determined about the religious beliefs of the society, it does not take account the personal preference of the people. The members of the society often preferred to be buried near family (Harding 2002:59). Burial was also about family connection, ranking of relatives, and affection for the deceased (Cressy 1997:461; Harding 2002:59). Burial practices in Medieval England were a method that supported the religious theology that determined the placement of the dead, through the use of prayers, memory, along with being buried in or close to sacred spaces. Social status of individuals helped to determine the rights to be buried in certain spaces through social standing and wealth. The Location of the medieval Jewish Cemetery, Jewbury Parking, York UK (Taken by P. Baase, Fall 2007) Work Cited: Boddington, Andy 1991 Models of Burial, Settlement and Worship: The Final Phase Reviewed. In Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries, A Reappraisal: Proceedings of a Conference Held at Liverpool Muesum Edmund Southworth, ed. Pp Wolfeboro Falls, NH: Alan Sutton Publishing Inc. Colman, Penny Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. Cressy, David Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Hadley, D.M Death in Medieval England. Gloucestershire, UK: Tempus Publishing Ltd. Harding, Vanessa The Dead and the Living in Paris and London, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. James, Edward Burial and Status in the Early Medieval West. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5(39): Late Medieval Burial in England: The Connection between the Religious Theology and the Social Hierarchy Pamela S. Baase ANTH 309: Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft Dr. Stebbins April 8, 2008


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