Article ID: CBB001422560

The Cursed and the Holy Body: Burning Corpses in the Middle Ages (2015)

unapi

Schmitz-Esser, Romedio (Author)


Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Volume: 45, no. 1
Issue: 1
Pages: 131-157


Publication Date: 2015
Edition Details: Article in a special issue: “Thinking through Death: The Politics of the Corpse”
Language: English

This essay looks at the practice of burning corpses in the Middle Ages. Much research has concentrated on the later medieval period; however, the punishment of burning and its specific motivations and rationales for crimes such as heresy, witchcraft, and magic go back to much earlier centuries. Scrutinizing sources for the earliest burnings of heretics and witches up to the eleventh century shows that these burnings were mere lynchings and not the outcome of juridical processes administered by secular or clerical authorities. Not until the twelfth century did authorities assent to such punishments and eventually accept burning as a legal form of punishment. Rejecting a purely theological or symbolic view of the dead consigned to the flames as representing the punishments of hell, this article stresses the parallel between the saints and the cursed. If from a medieval standpoint body and soul maintained a bond after death, the relics of heretics must have seemed as frightening as those of the saints seemed blessed. The essay thus stresses the close relationship between saints and heretics through the exceptional characteristics attributed to their bodies.

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Article Finucci, Valeria (2015) Thinking through Death: The Politics of the Corpse. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (pp. 1-6). unapi

Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB001422560/

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Authors & Contributors
Griffel, Frank
Ricordel, Joëlle
Marmura, Michael E.
Samsó, Julio
Djebbar, Ahmed
Ausécache, Mireille
Journals
Micrologus: Natura, Scienze e Società Medievali
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
Suhayl: Journal for the History of the Exact and Natural Sciences in Islamic Civilisation
Médiévales
Atti e Memorie, Rivista di Storia della Farmacia
Publishers
Oxford University Press
Garnet
Brill
Edizioni Cadmo
L'Asino d'oro Edizioni
Concepts
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Medicine
Human body
Philosophy and religion
Philosophy
Pharmacy
People
Guillaume de Conches
al-Ghazālī, Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad
Aflah, Yabir ibn al
Ptolemy
Ibn al-Haytham, Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan
Sa'id ibn Ahmad, al-Andalusi
Places
France
Italy
Holy Roman Empire
Venice (Italy)
China
Andalusia (Spain)
Times
Medieval
11th century
12th century
13th century
Early modern
10th century
Institutions
Scuola medica salernitana
Salerno. Schola Salernitana
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