Dealing With The Dead

Mortality and Community in Medieval and Early Modern Europe


Editor: Thea Tomaini
Death was a constant, visible presence in medieval and renaissance Europe. Yet, the acknowledgement of death did not necessarily amount to an acceptance of its finality. Whether they were commoners, clergy, aristocrats, or kings, the dead continued to function literally as integrated members of their communities long after they were laid to rest in their graves. From stories of revenants bringing pleas from Purgatory to the living, to the practical uses and regulation of burial space; from the tradition of the ars moriendi, to the depiction of death on the stage; and from the making of martyrs, to funerals for the rich and poor, this volume examines how communities dealt with their dead as continual, albeit non-living members. Contributors are Jill Clements, Libby Escobedo, Hilary Fox, Sonsoles Garcia, Stephen Gordon, Melissa Herman, Mary Leech, Nikki Malain, Kathryn Maud, Justin Noetzel, Anthony Perron, Martina Saltamacchia, Thea Tomaini, Wendy Turner, and Christina Welch
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Biographical Note

Thea Tomaini, Ph.D. (1998), University of Illinois at Chicago, is Professor of English (Teaching) at the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Corpse as Text: Disinterment and Antiquarian Enquiry 1700-1900, (Boydell, 2017).

Table of contents

Contents Acknowledgments List of Illustrations List of Contributors IntroductionThea Tomaini

Part 1: Discourses and Intercessions

1 The Talking Dead: Exhortations of the Dead to the Living in Anglo-Saxon WritingHilary Fox 2 Sudden Death in Early Medieval England and the Anglo-Saxon Fortunes of MenJill Hamilton Clements 3 Monumental Memory: The Performance and Enduring Spectacle of Burial in Early Anglo-Saxon EnglandMelissa Herman 4 Dealing with the Undead in the Later Middle AgesStephen Gordon 5 “Look at my Hands”: Physical Presence and the Saintly Intercessor at WiltonKathryn Maud 6 The Corpse of Public Opinion: Thomas of Norwich, Anti-Semitism, and Christian IdentityMary E. Leech

Part 2: Law and Civic Life

7 Outlaws and the Undead: Defining Sacred and Communal Space in Medieval IcelandJustin T. Noetzel 8 A Funeral Procession from Venice to Milan: Death Rituals for a Late-Medieval Wealthy MerchantMartina Saltamacchia 9 Live by the Sea, Die by the Sea: Confronting Death and the Dead in Medieval Liguria, 1140-1240 CENikki Malain 10 The Medieval Cemetery as Ecclesiastical Community: Regulation, Conflict, and Expulsion, 1000-1215Anthony Perron 11 The Corpse as Testimony: Judgment, Verdict, and the Elizabethan StageThea Tomaini

Part 3: Funerary Art and Mementi Mori

12 Reappropiated Antiquity in the Funerary Art of the Kingdom of León and Castile in the High Middle AgesSonsoles García González 13 Exploring Late-Medieval English Memento Mori Carved Cadaver SculpturesChristina Welch 14 Holbein’s Mementi MoriLibby Karlinger Escobedo Afterword: A Few Thoughts on the Dead, the Living, and Liminal ExistenceWendy J. Turner General Bibliography Index


Institutes, academic libraries, specialists, scholars, post-graduate students, practitioners. Educated laypersons interested in death studies, funerary culture and art, medieval studies.