A Cultural History of Death in the Middle Ages

Research output: Book/ReportBook


How has our understanding of death evolved over the course of 2,500 years? What can recorded history tell us about how different cultures and societies have felt about, experienced, responded to and marked the occasion of death across different periods and lands?

These are the questions pursued by 54 experts in this landmark work that explores the way past societies thought, behaved and developed as they wrestled with enormity of their own mortality. The volumes draw on history, anthropology and cultural studies to carve a complete picture of death, its symbols and interpretations from Antiquity to the present day.

Individual editors ensure volumes are cohesive and chapter titles are also identical across the volumes. This gives the choice of reading about a specific period in one of the volumes, or tracing a theme across history by reading the relevant chapter in each of the six.

The six volumes cover: 1. – Antiquity (500 BCE - 800 CE); 2. – Middle Ages (800 - 1450); 3. –Renaissance (1450 - 1650) ; 4. – Age of Enlightenment (1650 - 1789); 5. – Age of Empire (1800 - 1920); 6. – Modern Age (1920 – 2000+).

Themes (and chapter titles) are: dead and dying Bodies; the sensory aesthetics of death; emotions, mortality and vitality; death's ritual-symbolic performance; sites, power and politics of death; gender, age and identity; explaining death; and the undead and eternal.
Original languageAmerican English
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages204
VolumeVol. 2
StatePublished - Jan 24 2024


  • death
  • medieval studies
  • medieval culture
  • history
  • religion
  • art and architecture


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