Annotations and comments

fate has posted one annotation/comment since 30 April 2016.


Second Reading

About Tuesday 23 February 1668/69

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In re: the issue with Pepys kissing and embracing the mummified corpse of Katherine of Valois.

This was not nearly as creepy or disgusting as it seems now, though it probably was unusual for it to have been on the lips – such as was left of them. Remember, although post-Renaissance and post-Reformation, this was still an age of reliquaries, honouring of the dead, and general morbidity. It was very common for gentlemen to wear rings in honour of dead relatives, that would have in the jewel/setting small parts of the dead person. As martinb states, Oliver Cromwell's head was on display still; in fact, Oliver Cromwell's decaying corpse had been dug up and put on trial after the Restoration.

In addition, at this time and for quite a while, mummies from Egypt were components of various powders, tonics, and other such things. King Charles II apparently used to rub powdered mummy (literally) into his skin. I recall reading of people having bits of mummies as decorations or ornaments as late as the Georgian period, when unwrapping mummies was a public spectacle.

So not quibbling at the issue with Pepys kissing Katherine on the *lips* or groping her upper body (not that there would have been breasts to grope, I feel he'd more likely have simply grasped the shoulders as he leant over) - just indicating that it was not in the slightest bit odd that he kissed her or otherwise touched the exposed corpse. It's not like he opened the coffin or anything; she was displayed openly like that.