Catholic Medieval Burial ceremonies?

Discussion in 'Research' started by James The Dragon Dude, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. James The Dragon Dude

    James The Dragon Dude Apprentice

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    Hey all, I'm working on a thing that starts with a nobleman being buried (dead of course) but I don't know much about how Catholics in specifically1066 buried their dead. The story takes place in France if that helps me paint a better picture, thanks!
     
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

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    For dates as early as 1066 and in Northern France, you might want to look at Viking or Frankish Burial rites. For the rest of France, I don't know. I don't even know if they would think of themselves as Catholic [rather than just Christians], as that kind of puts me in mind of the Catholic - Protestant Schisms that came centuries later.
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    FTR, they would indeed think of themselves as Catholic. Even the Cathars, though they may not have used the word, considered themselves "catholic" because the Roman Catholic Church, in their opinion, had strayed from the true path. "Catholic" and "Christian" were more or less synonymous in the West prior to the Reformation.

    As for burial practices, there's not much to say. They buried and did not cremate. They buried in consecrated ground, which tended to make necessary the presence of a priest. Even for these simple statements there were many exceptions--death at sea, death in a fire, death where the body could not be recovered, mass burial, burial of an unknown body, burial when there was no priest around, and so on.

    As for things like specific rituals, words said, and so on, we simply do not know. That sort of thing did not get recorded. And from times when we do have records--say, the 18thc or so--we find wide variations from one part of Europe to another. If I were you, I'd go looking for 18thc French burial practices. Expect to have to use a university library. And as CupofJoe says, know your regions. Normandy was as different a nation from Gascony as Denmark was from Bavaria.

    Then again, if you are not aiming for historical accuracy, just cherry-pick whatever seems to work for you.
     
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  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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  5. pmmg

    pmmg Shadow Lord

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    Well, I am catholic, and I have been to a number of funerals, but none of them were in France or in 1066.

    Given that Catholic's believe also in the Tradition of the faith, I would suspect a lot of it was similar to how it might be today, but I cant say as I really know. And that puts me in the category of doing google searches, just like everyone else.

    However, the funerals I went to, began with a Mass (most everything Catholic has a mass). Some passages of the bible were read, which I suspect are the same ones that might be read at just about any funeral, and then there was a procession to the burial spot where some more things were said. (Actually now thinking on it, the actual time spent at the burial site was not very long. If I recall, the priest, does not always attend, but if not the priest than someone officiating usually asks for a moment of silence and a request to think of all the good things the deceased has brought to our lives, and then they are lowered in. After which there is not much ceremony, just filtering out.)

    If this was a VIP that was getting buried, then there might be a much longer mass and a lot more words said, and a bigger procession.

    Catholic masses themselves have a lot of tradition, and I suspect that if I was reading and you missed on those, I would probably more likely notice than leaving off some detail of how a catholic might lower a casket. The Masses have an order to the prayers, the meaning of different parts of it, and always communion. If you are not catholic and want to get that right, I would suggest adding the meaning of mass to your research.

    I found this in a google search, it seems to follow with how I have seen it:
    Catholic Funeral Service Order-of-Service Template
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Just for general reference, there are a few big inflection points in Catholic history. The first is the 4th century--not just the Council of Nicaea but other major councils, plus the first Christian emperors. I would put the next at the Fourth Lateran Council in the early 13th century though there were a couple of sea changes earlier. The next would be the Protestant Reformation and particularly the Council of Trent (16thc), then a whole network of changes in the 19thc. Then Vatican II a century later.

    A handy reference is the Catholic Encyclopedia, which was produced prior to World War One. The information in there is post-Reformation, so you can't simply assume it's accurate for medieval stuff, but much of it works, especially on factual matters.
     
  7. James The Dragon Dude

    James The Dragon Dude Apprentice

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  8. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

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