Thursday, July 07, 2016

Question from Arthur - Grief in the 15th century

Can anyone tell me how grief was dealt with in 15th century? I know death was a lot more prevalent but I assume human emotions and feelings of loss and grief have not altered all that much over time that even though people harden to death might not be as sensitive. I think that loosing a beloved spouse,child, parent, or close sibling must of still be painful for them.

So how did the people around the griever? Especially in the case of men I presume that people would just expect him to pull himself together and be stoic about it?

I think I remember they had mourning periods but what I am really trying to find out is what emotional support grieving people got from family and friends.


EBJohnson said...

Grief in Tudor times was in many ways similar and dissimilar to grief today.

You are right about mourning periods. These periods were especially adhered to by the upper-classes who had more time and money to observe them. Mourning periods could include fasting, the wearing of somber colors and even a complete seclusion from public for the family members directly impacted by the death. When a monarch died, the entire country could enter a period of mourning, though again - these cases differed.

During the Tudor period, however, men making great shows of emotion was not looked down on in the same way that is today. Even without the spectacle of death being accounted for, men were known to make great protestations and even cry in public. Henry VIII himself was documented, on several occasions, as crying openly when Anne Boleyn chastised him for his behavior or his failure to pay her the appropriate respects due as his wife.

When Elizabeth York died (the mother of Henry VIII) her husband Henry VII was reported by contemporaries to have retired from the court for weeks (either in his rooms at the court or in one of his many secluded hunting retreats), where those who retained access to him said he was lost in grief. Some claimed he even refused to eat. There was a clear and drastic change in the king after the death of his wife (not only in appearance but also in the workings of his mind and his political maneuverings), however, and no matter the motivations, it was clear that he was deeply impacted by it.

Death was very much a part of life in Tudor times, but so too was grief, and there were general exceptions made for that grief. Unless, of course, you were grieving for someone that had been attainted as a traitor...that could lead to other problems of its own.

Arthur said...

Ahhh great thanks for the reply :) I was pretty much thinking it would be like that. Seems it would not be have my young nobleman take himself off somewhere private for a few days after his wife dies and that his family and retainers would indulge him in that for a while at least. Thanks.

Just as a related thing, I know kings and higher nobles like Dukes didnt attend funerals, but is it unreasonably that a baron would?