Medieval death : ritual and representation
"Mediaeval Death" is a study of the social, theological and cultural issues involved in death and dying in Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to the Reformation in the early 16th century.
Drawing on both archaeological and art historical sources, Paul Binski examines pagan and Christian attitudes towards the dead, the aesthetics of death and the body, burial ritual and mortuary practice.
The evidence is accumulated from a wide variety of mediaeval thinkers and images, including the macabre illustrations of the Dance of Death and other popular themes in art and literature which reflect the mediaeval obsession with notions of humility, penitence and the dangers of bodily corruption.The author discusses the impact of the Black Death on late mediaeval art and examines the development of the mediaeval tomb showing the changing attitudes to the commemoration of the dead between late antiquity and the late Middle Ages.
In the final chapter the progress of the soul after death is studied through the powerful descriptions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory in Dante and other writers, and through portrayals of the Last Judgement and the Apocalypse in sculpture and large-scale painting.
Illustrated throughout with fascinating and sometimes disturbing images, this book offers a new interpretation of mediaeval death culture that should be of value to both general readers and students.