Flesh on the Bones: A Historical and Bioarchaeological Exploration of Violence, Trauma, Sex, and Gender in Medieval England

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Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Ancient and Medieval Pasts






Medieval England has been characterized as a particularly violent time and place in human history. Exploring the recently translated and digitized Calendar of the Patent Rolls (CPR), alongside data collected from human skeletal remains, provides novel and interdisciplinary means to evaluate this assertion. This study posed three questions: Could reliable quantitative measures of violence be developed using the CPR and skeletal evidence; could actions based on sex and gender be evaluated; and could engendered aspects of medieval violence be recognized and assessed? Our investigation found women recorded in the CPR having committed violent acts, but far less frequently than men. The analysis of human skeletal remains found that close to 13 percent of skeletons recovered from medieval archaeological sites displayed bone fracture, with males exhibiting almost twice the number of fractures as women. Interpreting these disparities is difficult. However, meshing history and bioarchaeology provides new insight into medieval sex, gender and trauma.


Author Posting. © Michigan Publishing 2017. This article is posted here for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Ancient and Medieval Pasts, 2017, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.9772151.0006.002

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