Fieldwork in Religion, Vol 8, No 2 (2013)

For Prayers and Pedagogy: Contextualising English Carved Cadaver Monuments of the Late-Medieval Social and Religious Elite

Christina Welch
Issued Date: 26 Nov 2013


This short article contextualizes a subset of Northern European cadaver monuments of the late- Medieval/early-Modern era, known as transi imagery. It explores 37 English carved cadaver monuments (ECCMs) dating from between c. 1425 to 1558. By examining vernacular theology, perceptions of purgatory, and understandings of the body post-mortem, it supports current scholarly writing that these ECCMs were pedagogical in nature, prompting prayers from the living to comfort the deceased in purgatory. However, it controversially argues that ECCMs additionally provided a visual reminder to the living that purgatorial suffering was not just spiritual, but also physical during the wet stage of death (the period before the corpse became skeletal). Further, by drawing on fieldwork, this article provides the first comprehensive guide to the carved cadaver monuments that can be found in England.

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DOI: 10.1558/firn.v8i2.133


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