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Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage, Death

Series Description

“Castor is an excellent, engaging storyteller” – The Guardian (UK)

“It’s fascinating” – The Guardian (UK)

“Fascinating three-part series” – Mail on Sunday (UK)

“Fascinating stories” – Daily Telegraph (UK)


In Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage, Death, historian and author Dr. Helen Castor (She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens) examines how the people of the Middle Ages handled three of life’s great rites of passage—birth, marriage, and death. Why were physicians of no help to women enduring the pains of labor and the dangers of childbirth? Why were newly married couples “put to bed” by the priest on their wedding night? What did it mean to “die well” and why was death such a communal affair, both before and after it happened?

In seeking answers to these and other questions about the medieval world, Castor examines the ways in which the Church dominated the rites and rituals of life, and how every aspect of people’s daily existence was colored by their awareness of the afterlife. She goes on to reveal that, by the end of the Middle Ages, changes in the Church as a result of the Protestant Reformation would mean that these rituals would never be the same again.


About the Host

Cambridge professor Helen Castor is a historian of medieval England, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Making History, and author of the award-winning book Blood and Roses.