How they will suffer pain: death and damnation in the Holkham Bible

How they will suffer pain: death and damnation in the Holkham Bible

By Jennifer Rene Depold

Master’s Thesis, California State University – Sacramento, 2009

Holkham Bible - British Library

Holkham Bible – British Library

Abstract: This study examines the understanding of death and damnation in late medieval England, as seen in the Holkham Bible, and various examples of medieval imagery. It suggests that lay society was not only aware, but held a heightened sense of urgency for an in-depth understanding of death and the consequence of sin.

The thesis first looks at the initial Christian understanding of death and the afterlife, reflected in the works of the church fathers, Ambrose and Augustine, and the transformation of this understanding into the medieval period.

The thesis then looks at the primary methods used to disseminate doctrine to the laity in the late Middle Ages and their reception of that information. The study then approaches an in-depth examination of the Holkham Bible, a fourteenth-century Anglo-Norman manuscript that in particular reflects the attempt to portray death in a manner that the populace would understand and identify with.

The study concludes with an examination of various pieces of late medieval imagery and the representation of death and lay interpretation.

Click here to read this thesis from California State University

Sign up to get a Weekly Email from

* indicates required

medievalverse magazine