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AfterlivesThe Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages$
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Nancy Mandeville Caciola

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702617

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702617.001.0001

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Diagnosing Death

Diagnosing Death

(p.66) Chapter 2 Diagnosing Death

Nancy Mandeville Caciola

Cornell University Press

This chapter charts developments in the understanding of death which emerged from the medieval medical theories that began in the twelfth century. It shows that that an increasingly medicalized view of death took hold in medieval culture between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries. Through the analysis of numerous different sources and genres, it explores how death was diagnosed and understood as a physical process. The rising authority of scientific epistemologies is one of the most important developments for understanding the culture of the later Middle Ages, and the history of death is no exception. By the end of the period, the prestige of such approaches to death had increased to the point that medical definitions were coming to the forefront of broader conversations about death and afterlife.

Keywords:   death, medieval medicine, twelfth century, Middle Ages, afterlife, medieval culture, medical definitions

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