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Title: The commemoration of the lay elite in the late medieval Danish realm, c. 1340-1536 : rituals, community and social order
Author: Heilskov, Mads Vedel
ISNI:       0000 0004 7432 0488
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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The dissertation focuses on the role of liturgical commemoration of the dead in the continuous creation and maintenance of the hierarchal social order in late medieval Denmark. It argues that the ritualized practices enacted by religious experts on behalf of dead benefactors and their families played a crucial role in what can be called the world-building process. Liturgical commemoration can be described as a total phenomenon as it contains elements of legal, religious, social, economic and existential concerns. By its totality, this phenomenon opens a unique window onto the entire social reality of the late medieval period and the medieval mind. On the basis of theological treatises, liturgical commentaries, liturgical books, mainly breviaries, manuals, martyrologies, necrologies, foundation charters and wills from medieval Denmark, many of which only available in their original manuscript form, as well as material evidence such as tomb monuments, church and cemetery architectures and liturgical objects, the dissertation investigates how a specific Christian ideology of the social order, bound up on notions of this order being a creation of God, infused the many-faceted practice of liturgical commemoration. My analysis shows that the organizational principle by which the dead were placed in the layout of the sacred books and the sacred spaces were in accordance to the layout of the society of the living which in turn was in accordance with the hierarchy of the saints, after which the entire Christian society was modelled. In this way the social hierarchies were supported, legitimized and reproduced in the liturgical commemoration of the dead members of the Christian community. The elite did not abuse the Christian belief and the Church did not simply serve as an ideological vehicle to support and legitimize power. Rather, I argue that medieval society was formed by religious belief and that everything was explained, experienced and understood by means of the Christian cosmology. This is why the very production of the texts that were used to commemorate the dead in the daily office and at mass, why the ritual practices, their choreographies and objects and the sacred spaces and architectures were permeated by a specific Christian view of society - a view that was indeed hierarchical, but also deeply rooted in the Christian cosmology.
Supervisor: Armstrong, Jackson Webster ; Gelting, Michael H. Sponsor: University of Aberdeen
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dead ; Funeral rites and ceremonies ; Denmark