Episode 17: The Impact of the Protestant Reformation on Burial Practices in Christian Europe

by Tanya D. Marsh | Death, et seq.

The Protestant Reformation of the early 16th century changed countless aspects of everyday life for every kind of person across Europe. One of the things most profoundly affected was the popular conception of death. On this episode, I will be speaking with third year Wake Forest University Law School student Jordan Artrip about how the theology of the Reformation caused a paradigm shift for how death and the dead were viewed by society, as well as the practical effects of that shift on life and religious practice.

Resources for further information:

The Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Edited by Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshall

Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman

Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples by Michael Horton

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Cemetery Law: The Common Law of Burying Grounds in the United States, by Tanya D. Marsh and Daniel Gibson


Topics addressed in episode:

  • For everyday people living during Christendom, one’s view of death and the dead was inextricably linked to the teaching of whichever church was dominant in their particular time and region. How did the theology of the Medieval Church shape peoples’ view of death and the dead on the eve of the Reformation?
  • How did this belief in purgatory and the efficacy of intercessional prayer manifest itself in the practices of the Church regarding the dead?
  • How did changes brought by the Reformation impact the level of memorialization that we see today in churches?
  • How did changes in theology impact local burial practices?
  • How did practices change in areas of Europe where the Catholic Church remained dominant?
  • What impact did the Reformation and related changes in burial practices in Christian Europe have on the development of the law and social norms in the United States?







%d bloggers like this: