top of page

Project Number: 522

Project pseudonym: "Eudes"

Site: Augustinian Friary

Feature/Burial: 336

Born between: 1230 and 1289

Died between: 1300 and 1349

Older friar, possibly founding member of Friary.

A reconstruction image of two medieval friars in Cambridge

Reconstruction image: Mark Gridley

​“Eudes” was an Augustinian friar. He was born in the mid/late thirteenth century, between 1230 and 1289, most likely towards the middle of this range. He grew up in Cambridge or somewhere nearby in East Anglia. His childhood was probably not very prosperous; his early diet appears to have contained a lower level of animal protein than most of the other friars and indeed many in other groups in medieval Cambridge. He grew to an adult stature of 171 cm, about average for men in Cambridge. He was robust, with a large square jaw.

“Eudes” would have entered the Augustinian order as a novice in his early teens. It was a decision that shaped his life. Friars lived in a heavily regulated world. Friars wore uniform institutional clothes, attended religious services several times a day, slept in collective dormitories, ate in collective refectories, and did prescribed tasks. Some studied, wrote and copied manuscripts, some administered and maintained the order’s property, and some did physical work. Joining the friary did not shape his life only spiritually. Like many friars, his diet seems to have changed markedly in his adult years, reflecting the richer diet with regular meat and fish meals prescribed by the prosperous order. He has flattened areas on his foot bones which may be related to habitual kneeling. “Eudes” seems to have been a working friar, engaging in physical labour. Although his bone strength in both arms and legs is about average, he has quite robust arms and large hands. Severe osteoarthritis in his right wrist probably results from some habitual activity which involved rotating his wrist (in a motion like using a screwdriver). Both of his upper arms angled markedly outwards at the elbow. Stresses on his back, perhaps from carrying heavy loads or riding a horse, damaged most of the disks in his mid to lower spine. Being a friar could be a rough life; he also suffered a broken rib, a fractured vertebra, and two small impact fractures on his skull (perhaps from violence) – all of which healed well.

“Eudes” would have been a novice as an adolescent sometime between 1243 and 1300, most likely in the 1250s-1270s. The Augustinian Friary in Cambridge was founded in the 1280s. There is a strong chance, therefore, that he was one of the original, first-generation group of friars involved with founding the Augustinians’ Cambridge Friary; if not, he may have joined the Friary in its very early years. If he were from a nearby Augustinian friary south or east of Cambridge, such as Clare, Suffolk (founded 1248/9), his isotopic signature would look quite similar to that of people brought up around Cambridge, as it does. Between then and his death, the Friary grew from 20 to 70 members and its area doubled in size; it became an important part of Cambridge’s landscape, one of the largest Augustinian friaries in England outside London and one of the order’s principal study centres in England, with connections to Augustinians in France and Italy.

“Eudes” died in the early fourteenth century, sometime between 1300 and 1349. By the time he died, he was an old man, over 60, and his health shows it. He suffered from gout, which would have caused bouts of severe pain in his feet. He suffered from osteoarthritis in many joints, particularly in his neck. A cyst in his right hip indicates osteoarthritis, and he had some kind of infection within his skull. His teeth, however, remained remarkably good for his age. When he died, like his brothers in the order, he was buried in the cemetery of the Friary where he lived, clothed in his belted friar’s robe.

Notes on interpretation/open questions

  • We’ve chosen PSN 522 and PSN 524 ("Adam") to illustrate different sides of life as a religious professional. The image bringing them together is intended to give a sense of the social nature of such communities.

bottom of page