It has been claimed that the reformation began as an argument about death and the fear of death, as shown, in particular, by the question of the existence of purgatory. The doctrine of purgatory and the associated idea of the equality of all people in the face of death came as a relief in the world after the Black Death, where death was an ever‐present threat. The granting of indulgences became ‘a weighty part of the religious life of the people’ and the first point of Luther's criticism of the Church. The Reformation simplified funeral rites, but its views on Hell and the passion of Jesus represented an element of continuity with the Middle Ages.
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