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Durham e-Theses
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Requiem for the Chyldren: the bioarchaeology of non-adult life course morbidity and maturation in Late Medieval and Tudor England, c. 1450-1600.

PENNY-MASON, BENNJAMIN,JAMES (2020) Requiem for the Chyldren: the bioarchaeology of non-adult life course morbidity and maturation in Late Medieval and Tudor England, c. 1450-1600. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study employs life course theory to palaeopathological evidence of morbidity from skeletons, and in doing so, endeavours to uncover new insights about the lives of medieval children in England. This research explores life course theory, through a biohistorical approach, to non-adult bioarchaeological evidence. Through the implementation of a holistic research approach, this study aims to address an important gap in our knowledge of childhood in the past, as well as demonstrate the value of engaging with – and integrating approaches from – multiple disciplines. This research examines the prevalence of skeletal disease in non-adults (in this study ≤25-years-old) in England between AD 1200 and 1700. Data for 3,466 non-adults from 146 later medieval sites and an additional 753 non-adults from 41 Tudor sites were collated from published and unpublished skeletal reports and analysed for evidence of skeletal changes reflective of disease. It was observed that, adopting a life course perspective was vital for understanding the lived experience of childhood in the past. It was noted that evidence of morbidity during childhood (≤11-years-old) was low, potentially indicating a period of effective child care. At around12-16-years of age the transition into youthhood occurred and this was accompanied by a change in morbidity patterns. It was also noted that patterns of morbidity in the life course changed according to different scales of analysis – such as regional, temporal, social status, urbanism. There was also potentially a difference in morbidity and burial evidence between later medieval and Tudor childhood. Evidence of violent trauma suggests that youths might have participated in warfare activities from the age of 14-17-years-old. Finally, the approach of composite life course analysis revealed that progressive tuberculosis was likely to have been a significant childhood experience, during which children were cared for by their familial units.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:child, early modern, palaeopathology, disease, medicine, transdisciplinary
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Oct 2020 09:37

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