The Economic History Review

Monastic mortality: Durham Priory, 1395–15291

Volume 59 Issue 4
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Pages: 667-687Authors: JOHN HATCHER, A. J. PIPER, DAVID STONE
Published online: October 6, 2006DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2006.00364.x

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This article presents reliable data on the life expectancy of the monks of Durham Priory between 1395 and 1529. The number of years that monks survived in this northern monastery plunged precipitously in the second half of the fifteenth century before staging a partial recovery in the early sixteenth. The experience of Durham monks mirrors the scale, direction, and timing of the data already produced for the monks of Canterbury and Westminster. While the precise relationship between monastic mortality and that of the population at large remains difficult to determine, there can be no doubt that the symmetry that has been established between mortality in three monasteries located in different parts of the country has important implications for our understanding of the demographic history of late medieval England.