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Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England$
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Peter Marshall

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207733

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207733.001.0001

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The Presence of the Dead: Memory and Obligation Before the Reformation

The Presence of the Dead: Memory and Obligation Before the Reformation

Chapter:
(p.6) 1 The Presence of the Dead: Memory and Obligation Before the Reformation
Source:
Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England
Author(s):

PETER MARSHALL

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207733.003.0002

This chapter examines the religious and cultural significance of the dead in later 15th and early 16th-century England. It explains the late medieval theology of purgatory, and its diffusion in popular religious literature, sermons, and other cultural media. It also explores ‘points of contact’ between living and the dead, including beliefs about revenants contingent on ‘bad deaths’ or appearing at the season of Halloween. The character and importance of late medieval funerals and post-mortem intercession (masses, obits) is assessed, and the strong imperative for people to be ‘remembered’. It is suggested that while there is little evidence for any ‘decline’ of belief in purgatory before the Reformation, the demands of intercession were placing considerable social and economic burdens on society.

Keywords:   death, theology, purgatory, sermons, revenants, Halloween, funerals, intercession, masses, obits

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