In the early modern period, necrologies—lists of the dead— had a living function for states. They were data meant to be used, mostly to track plague and other infectious diseases, but also as a source of history. This presentation tracks two state-level death registers, in Milan and Venice, over the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. Hannah Marcus compares the terms and meanings associated with deaths caused by “old age” as they morphed over time and varied by context. Like extreme old age itself, this kind of research invites reflection on the place and meaning of exceptionally long lives in unusually turbulent times.
Hannah Marcus, John and Ruth Hazel Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University
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