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A History of Death in 17th Century England (Paperback)

British History True Crime P&S History England 17th Century

By Ben Norman
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526755261
Published: 30th September 2020

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RRP £12.99

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Death was a constant presence in the lives of the rich and poor alike in seventeenth-century England, being much more visible in everyday existence than it is today. It is a highly important and surprisingly captivating part of the epic story of England during the turbulent years of the 1600s. This book guides readers through the subject using a chronological approach, as would have been experienced by those living in the country at the time, beginning with the myriad causes of death, including disease, war, and capital punishment, and finishing with an exploration of posthumous commemoration. Although contemporaries of the seventeenth century did not fully realise it, when it came to the confrontation of mortality they were living in wildly changing times.

I have a fascination with the history of death and funerary practices so I found this book to be a very interesting insight to the various causes of death and how the dead were treated in Stuart England. It’s a little basic but it does serve as a good starting point if you want to look deeper into the subject. It’s informative and well researched with lots of personal stories from people at the time. I know this isn’t going to be a book for everyone but if you do have any interest in the subject, it’s a very good read.

NetGalley, Jennifer Orton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was much better than I thought it was going to be and kept my interest from start to finish. Death can seem like a morbid and depressing topic, and it happens to everyone eventually, but this book was not gloomy at all. The author talks about different forms of death in England's 1600's highlighting mostly common people. But what really peaked my interest, were the chapters on royalty. I like how the deaths were celebrated at the funerals.

If you like reading about British history and want to know a different aspect, this is the book to read. If you are a fan of Tudor dynasty, you might be disappointed because this book was after that. Overall, I enjoyed learning more about 17th century England and you could tell the author did a lot of research about the time period. Definitely recommended.

NetGalley, Lisa Konet

Very sistematic and concise presentation of history of the death in 17. century England.

The struggle for life started from the moment a baby was born. Deaths on childbirth for mother and child were common, Common death causes were also by diseases as smallpox f.i., plague and then criminal punishments, war, etc.
Death was ubiquitous part of life in 17. century.

Sweeping changes were affecting the rituals surrounding death, burial, and remembrance. People often soothed themselves that the dead beloved would soon be in "the land of rest, where there is no sickness but all perfection".

I highly recommend the book.

NetGalley, Mana M

This is a short go-through of how death portrayed itself in the 17th century, each chapter highlighting a different aspect: illnesses, warring and so on. There's also some chapters specifically about the deaths of royalty and their funerals.

The most interesting thing about Norman's book is that the majority of the text is about normal people living (and dying). We get to know their names and their fates, which, so to speak, opens up history and shows us that people 400 years ago wasn't that unlike us now in the 21th century.

You would think that a book about death would be dreary but I found Norman's book an interesting read mostly due the above mentioned reason. The text is easy to read and follow along to, so no objections there.

NetGalley, Sarah Matsson-Klingzell

I requested this title as I often read historical fiction and the 17th century is of particular interest to me. I wanted to expand my knowledge regarding the ways death was perceived in that period and reading this book proved to be interesting. Mr Norman presents how people met their deaths, rituals connected with the burials or the ways the dead were commemorated. One chapter is devoted to the royal funerals which took place in the 17th century and includes most fascinating information. The amount of research done into non-fiction is imposing as the author quotes contemporary accounts which are not difficult to follow.
The subject matter of this book is not joyful, however, it is full of facts that both curious and impressive.

NetGalley, Beata B. Reviewer

About Ben Norman

Ben Norman grew up in South Cambridgeshire, in a 700-year-old farmhouse that was supposedly visited by Oliver Cromwell in the seventeenth century. He has always found the past a fascinating place, with a particular interest in the strange but familiar world of early modern England, and holds a master’s degree in Early Modern History from the University of York, for which he achieved a distinction. When not immersed in history Ben enjoys writing fiction, spending days doing absolutely nothing, and indulging in his favourite science fiction film franchise. He currently lives and works in York.

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