Introduction: tomb monuments and the commemoration of the dead

This webpage aims to offer an introduction to the Tomb Monuments component that has been developed for the Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO) database. The mission of the MeMO project is to inventory and describe sources that are important for the research into the medieval commemoration of the dead (memoria). Besides tomb monuments and slabs, these sources comprise painted and sculpted memorial pieces as well as memorial texts, including registers in which the burials of the dead in both the church and the churchyard were recorded.

The focus of the MeMO project is the present-day country of the Netherlands during the period up to the Reformation. The results of its research are made freely available to all by means of a user-friendly, internet-based application with extensive search functions. For more information about the memoria and the MeMO project, please see:

The parish church of St Michael in the medieval town of Oudewater does not house grand tomb monuments such as we find in other Dutch churches, e.g. at Vianen, Roermond or Arnhem. Instead it has been chosen for this introduction because of the variety of medieval floor slabs still found there and the information that can be gleaned from them. Moreover, there are surviving church records that can help identify the slabs and the people they commemorate, most importantly a register of graves of c.1600 and a slightly older but damaged register of c.1595 that served as the basis for this later version.

Before we discuss the floor slabs in the parish church of Oudewater, we shall first explain briefly about the medieval commemoration of the dead (memoria culture) of which tomb monuments form part.

Next: Care for the here and the hereafter

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Last updated on: 28 June 2014.