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Death, Religion, and the Family in England,
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Ralph Houlbrooke

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208761

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208761.001.0001

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Burial and Commemoration

Burial and Commemoration

(p.331) 11 Burial and Commemoration
Death, Religion, and the Family in England, 1480–1750

Ralph Houlbrooke

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses burials and commemoration of the dead between the 15th and 18th centuries. It was a Christian duty to bury the bodies of the dead. Early medieval Church councils forbade burial inside the church, except to members of the clergy and important lay people, such as monarchs, founders, and patrons. Gradually, however, this prohibition was relaxed, partly in order to raise money for church funds. The commemoration of individuals by means of funeral monuments never died out entirely during the Middle Ages but it was relatively rare until after c.1100. Three main developments may be discerned during the following seven centuries: a gradual downwards diffusion of the practice of erecting monuments from the uppermost ranks of society to its middling strata; the increasing importance of commemoration, as distinct from the encouragement of intercession, as a function of monuments; and a long-term shift of emphasis from the visual representation of the deceased to the epitaph.

Keywords:   death, burials, burial practices, commemoration, effigy, epitaph

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