Philobiblon: Resting in pieces

Friday, December 02, 2005

Resting in pieces

To the Institute for Historical Research tonight for the Late Medieval Seminar given by Emma Cavell (Balliol College, Oxford) on Noblewomen in Thirteenth-Century Shropshire. It turned out to be focused on their choice of burial place.

Women could - sometimes - choose whether they were buried in their own foundation (abbey or monastery), in a foundation associated with their natal family or their husband's family. And with your body went a settlement that would support your chosen institution, so it is easy to imagine the conflicts that emerged.

One rather neat way of solving these was splitting up your body after you'd died. (More common in France than in England.)

But serendipity strikes again, for in the post on Museum of London earlier this week, I noted the slab that covered the burial of the heart of Joan, wife of Fulke de St Edmond (sheriff of London 1289-90) from St Swithin’s Church in Cannon St.

I'd hazard a guess - no more than that - that the rest of her body went to somewhere associated with her natal family, which would I suspect have most likely been country-based. Don't suppose there's anyone out there who knows?

A papal decree in the 13th? century ended the practice, since as I understand this the practice hardly squared with the theory of bodily resurrection.


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