The business of death
This thesis primarily studies the financial role of mourning in the lives of early modern individuals. The thesis examines how both consumers and retailers interacted with mourning goods as well as the emotional value of the objects. The project is pursued out of a desire to explore the economic and social histories of the mourners and makers. Ultimately, the objective is to understand the nuances of mourning as a source of both financial profit and loss in the early modern world. Chapter 1 briefly introduces research that has been done on other aspects of death-related businesses such as undertakers, the treatment of funerals, and the separation of fields of history that overlap within the project's topic. Chapter 2 focuses on the manufacturers of mourning goods and how the market provided entrepreneurial opportunities and difficulties for the working class. Chapter 3 analyzes the financial burden consumers faced when they entered mourning, highlighting how social expectations brought troublesome expenses. Chapter 4 returns to the objects themselves and reaffirms the emotional and psychological role that mourning played during this period and that financial worries and grief often came hand in hand. In short, mourning was an essential cultural practice of the early modern period that allowed for social display and processing of grief. However, mourning simultaneously provided business opportunities with niches of profit and acted as a financial obstacle for the survivors. This thesis contributes to scholarship about economic activities surrounding death and prompts future researchers to investigate similar points of contact.