Death Rituals During The Elizabethan Era

1021 Words 5 Pages
Death and burial rituals in England during the Elizabethan era were a recognized topic of importance. With the plague spreading, death was rampant resulting in the customs being unsanitary and unsympathetic. However, considering all the medical advances made throughout the years, ceremonies adapted to be a more respectable process. Modern standards of death and burial differ from those in the Elizabethan period, but they were rightfully adjusted for their current circumstances.
The bubonic plague, or the "Black Death.", caused a majority of death in Renaissance Europe and the efforts of trying to quarantine the infected helped scarcely. The plague took two main forms, pneumonic and bubonic. Pneumonic plague, a severe and often fatal lung infection,
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(Colman 23) During the Elizabethan time period, it was common for graveyards to become overcrowded with bodies. When one would become overcrowded old graves would be dug up (“Shakespearean Era Funeral Customs.” ). Ossuaries, a depository for the bones of dead people, were used to hold the collected bones of old graves. (Colman 195). Overcrowded cemeteries created terrible odors and hazardous health conditions (Colman 63-64). Many people used cremation to handle the disposal of large numbers of bodies; In addition cremated remains were neater to dispose of than corpses. (Colman …show more content…
Mourning rings were also a part of Elizabethan funeral tradition, made to memorialize death, they often featured skulls, coffins, or crosses (“Shakespearean Era Funeral Customs.” ). The testament (or will) was a legal document witnessed by a notary that gave binding instructions about the testator's wishes. The will was both an instrument of personal expression and a way to encumber property and directed the activities of heirs from beyond the grave (Strocchia). The ars moriendi treatises suggested that drawing up a last will was an important step in planning for a good death. Despite this advice, the vast majority of Europeans died without leaving a testament

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