‘I Haue Ben Crised and Besy’: Illness and Resilience in the Fifteenth-Century Stonor Letters

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JournalThe Mediaeval Journal
DateAccepted/In press - 31 Dec 2014
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2016
Issue number2
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)85-108
Original languageEnglish


The modern and medieval meanings of words reporting ill health often bear little resemblance to one another. This article compares the use of ‘diseased’ and ‘sick’ in the fifteenth-century Stonor family letters. It examines the word ‘crased’, which implies physical ill health most directly, but also suggests emotional, psychological, or spiritual distress in female family members especially. The article then turns to the practical implications of poor health, asking how and why it affected the day-to-day concerns of the Stonors and their associates. It uncovers compelling evidence for resilience in the face of many and competing calls of duty. Finally, the article presents unique palaeographical evidence for the impact of illness, where a correspondent is so ‘seke’ that he can scarcely hold his pen.

Bibliographical note

© 2016, The Author(s). This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details. Consent letter for 6 month embargo only attached.

    Research areas

  • history of emotions, palaeography, mental health, letter writing, disease, fifteenth century, history, medical humanities, Stonor family

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