In recent times, the study of death both in modern times and throughout historyhas begun to interest historians, who have gone about their research in a variety of ways. One work in this area of study is The Hour of Our Death by Philippe Aries, which has become a foundation work in the subject, puts forth the notion that people in past times had a lesser emotional involvement in death than the people of present times. A similar sentiment is echoed in Aries' Centuries of Childhood, this time in regards to parents' feelings toward their children, which adds further dimensions to Aries' hypothesis that peoples' attitudes towards life cycles such as birth and death were neither intensely emotional nor remarkable in past times. It is only in modernity that these sentiments have evolved into what they are regarded as today. Because of the importance of his work and thesis, later generations of medieval historians have addressed them in their research, often disputing Aries' thesis, methodology, and assumptions.
[...] Historians since the time of Aries have had to address his contribution toward the study of medieval death, whether they agree with his conclusions or not. Like Aries, Banker dealt with the social relationships ruled by death in medieval society. Geary and Schmitt, conversely, see the dead as a symbolic connection between the present and the past, or as tools used by the church for educational purposes therefore they are dealing more with a history of mentalities, rather than social relationships. [...]
[...] The occasion of an individual death in the family and neighborhood activated social mechanisms of great emotional intensity.” Banker makes it clear that a lack of historical records about the laymen's attitudes toward death do not denote a lack of intense feelings toward it, and therefore Aries is wrong to assume so on the basis of lack of evidence. Throughout this work, the idea that death in the Middle Ages was a concern of society as a whole, and that a socialization of death took place during this time is prevalent. [...]
[...] I studied them simultaneously, in the light of a question that arose in the course of my first explorations.” Aries is attempting to write a book about attitudes towards death and towards the self. Surviving clerical documents and wills may yield information on attitudes towards death, such as the rituals surrounding burial and how the dead were treated. However, it seems too much of a stretch to expect to garner any clear information about the sense of self through these same sources. [...]
[...] Death in the Community: Memorialization and Confraternities in an Italian Communie in the Late Middle Ages. Athens and London: The University of Georgia Press Binski, Paul Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation. Ithaca: Cornell University Press Geary, Patrick. Living With the Dead in the Middle Ages. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press Schmitt, Jean-Claude. Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and Dead in Medieval Society. Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press Philippe Aries, The Hour Of Our Death, trans. [...]
[...] In a somewhat different approach than the above works, Jean-Claude Schmitt's Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society examines death through society's belief in ghosts and its conceptualization of them the appearance of the dead before the living. Therefore, how a society views ghosts gives insight into their attitudes about death, as well. Schmitt writes, “thus the aim of this book becomes clearer. It concerns the social function of the remembrance of the dead in the Middle Ages . [...]
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