Memento Morte: Remember Death

Thursday, 03 May 2007

Judging by much of the art and literature, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe was fairly morbid. Amid all the optimism of the Golden Age, an entire genre grew up called¬†memento morte, which involved meditation on suffering and death. This is not surprising given the fact that about half of Europe’s population in some parts had succumbed to the Plague: Few of one’s children would live to adulthood, and as late as the 1660s, London was devastated not only by a resurgent plague but a fire that reduced much of the city to ashes. It is ...

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