Ritual remembrance of the dead is found in practically all societies and forms of society. Burial, veneration and commemoration of the deceased ancestors was already an integral part of the way early advanced civilisations dealt with death.
In the Middle Ages, a veritable memorial ritual was developed under the auspices of a Christian understanding of death. For example, the awareness of the finiteness of life (Memento mori (Cgm 3974)) and the remembrance of the dead played a role until into the Baroque period, especially in various forms of community: besides brotherhoods and guilds, these were in particular the monastic communities. Since the 9th century, they had entered into prayer fraternities with one another, which were upheld by entering deceased confreres into registers of the dead, so-called obituaries (Clm 23472), and exchanging memorial lists, so-called mortuary rolls. In the libraries in Amberg, Munich and Regensburg especially, there are extensive, now also digitally available collections of mortuary rolls from the Bavarian Benedictine Congregation.
A very special form of literature developed in the late Middle Ages, a crisis-prone period often marked by wars and plagues, which was intended to prepare devout Christians for a good death, i.e. one that would be a fitting end to life and lead to salvation: the Ars moriendi, i.e. the art of dying (Xylogr. 16 + death booklet Cgm 71). The dying of all social classes was also dealt with in the form of so-called dances of death (Im.mort. 2 and 90), especially in times of plague and other diseases.
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