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The Royal Funerary and Burial Ceremonies of Medieval English Kings, 1216-1509

Duch, Anna Maria (2016) The Royal Funerary and Burial Ceremonies of Medieval English Kings, 1216-1509. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

When Ernst Kantorowicz published The King’s Two Bodies in 1957, far greater importance was placed upon the body politic, the office of King, than on the body natural, the king as a man. In part, this thesis sets out to overturn this notion: the royal corpse was the central and most vital element of the royal funerary and burial ceremonies, and concern for the royal body and its soul lasted for centuries. Although the King always lived, the mortal king did not become inert or null upon death. The English royal funeral has been understudied. The practical mechanics of English kings’ funerals (including the preservation of the body, the role of the Church, and the events of the ceremonies) have not been laid out clearly. This thesis seeks to update the analysis of both individual kingly funerals and the overarching development of royal exequies over three centuries, from John in 1216 to Henry VII in 1509. It is my argument that the language used in the royal prescriptive funerary and burial texts permitted individual variation based on personal preferences, the unique circumstances of the death, and the requirements of the Church for a Christian burial. The royal prescriptive texts were elastic, enabling a wide variety of kings during the medieval period to be laid to rest fittingly and honorably, according to their station. These prescriptive texts did not cover commemoration, an omission that allowed flexibility in celebrating the legacy of a deceased king. In special cases, the living elected to rebury the dead, be it for practical reasons or to enhance the legacies of both parties. The ceremonies and the ensuing commemoration, combined with a pronounced preference for burial in England for members of the royal house, formed an English royal way of death.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: royal customs, funeral, burial, commemoration, kings, English monarchy, exequies, medieval
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Ms Anna Maria Duch
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2016 12:15
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2016 12:15
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13700

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