Failed Ritual? Medieval Papal Funerals and the Death of Clement VI (1352)

  • Joëlle Rollo-Koster
Part of the Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Modern History book series (MBSMH)


It is the purpose of this chapter to investigate if and how the arrival of the Black Death in 1348 influenced the burial practice and funerary ritual of the late medieval papacy using the case of Clement VI’s 1352 burial as a test. After reviewing summarily the recent historiography on the Black Death and burial practices, this essay will concentrate on papal death ritual, relying on Pierre Ameil’s ordo (ceremonial book). The chapter will detail the orchestration of funerary practice during the pope’s agony, embalming, exposition of the corpse, and transport to the funerary chapel. The 1352 funeral of Clement demonstrates that protocol was not followed raising the question of the plague’s influence on this ritual.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA

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