Forever after: The dead in the Avignonese confraternity of Notre Dame la Majour (1329-1381)

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Historians of confraternities have often defined them as extended surrogate families, regrouping the living and the dead under their parentage. Death never unbound confraternal ties. It is the purpose of this paper to investigate whether or not, during the late Middle Ages, the dead 'lived on' in the large Avignonese confraternity of Notre Dame la Majour. This investigation begins with a study of the association's early fourteenth-century statutes and continues by quantifying the lists of names from the matriculation books, in order to identify the association's dead. Contrary to prevailing notions, the confraternity eliminated its dead from the group's records. Thus, why did this confraternity bypass remembrance in its commemoration of the dead? The identity of the brothers partially answer this question. The association gathered numerous Italians, Florentine for the most part, who had followed the papal court to Avignon. Notre Dame la Majour granted civic recognition and honour to the foreigners present in the city through its ceremonies, funerary processions and public appearances. But foremost, the confraternity permitted foreigners to recognize, identify and relate to each other. © 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Medieval History