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Durham e-Theses
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Quality of Life in Medieval Monasteries and Nunneries

TALLYN, ASHLEY,ELIZABETH (2014) Quality of Life in Medieval Monasteries and Nunneries. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The purpose of this thesis was to explore the possible differences of quality of life in medieval monastic institutions based on the sex of their inhabitants, their location, and/or their ideology. The use of the term quality of life, however, is not commonly used in reference to archaeological or historical populations. This thesis explores the use of the term quality of life in a variety of fields and evaluates its use in relation to the populations being studied as well as the socio-cultural and theological implications of the medieval society that would have shaped these individuals’ lives.
Eight monastic sites were chosen based on their adherence to the requirements of the research, in terms of location and ideology, as well as the availability of skeletal remains from the sites. The presence or absence of previously identified health indicators were compared, as were the proportion of different types of artefacts and contemporary financial data, to assess any differences in quality of life. It was found that there were differences between the various types of sites, but that wealth appears to have had a greater influence on quality of life than the sex of the inhabitants, location, or ideology of a particular monastic institution. These factors could play an important and influential role, but that the wealth of the institution most likely played a larger role.
The conclusion of this research is that the term quality of life is appropriate when used in relation to archaeological or historical populations, but that the definition of it must be explicitly stated. It also concludes that individuals entering into medieval monasteries and nunneries could expect to have a higher quality of life than a lay person, but that their own experience would have been heavily influenced by the wealth of the particular house to which they belonged.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:medieval, monastic, quality of life, archaeology, bioarchaeology
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Jun 2014 08:44

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