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Living la vita apostolica. Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland

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  • Jaco Zuijderduijn

Abstract

Data on vital events of medieval women are extremely scarce. We use a dataset based on a necrology of nuns in late-medieval Holland to arrive at estimates for the development of life expectancy and mortality. The first study of its kind for the Low Countries, it shows striking differences in the development of life expectancy and mortality between Holland and England. In the fifteenth century, life expectancy at age 25 in Holland was much higher than in England. Also, mortality among our population of nuns was much lower than among monks in England, and mortality crises were less frequent. Our result support claims by Van Bavel and Van Zanden (2003) about the relatively early recovery of the population of Holland, as well as the mild impact of infectious diseases. The comparison with England suggests that this country’s crisis of the late Middle Ages was most likely the result of a high-mortality demographic regime.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaco Zuijderduijn, 2013. "Living la vita apostolica. Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland," Working Papers 0044, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0044
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    Cited by:

    1. Zuijderduijn, Jaco, 2016. "The Ages of Women and Men : Life Cycles, Family and Investment in the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries," Lund Papers in Economic History 150, Lund University, Department of Economic History.

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    Keywords

    life expectancy; women; Middle Ages;

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