Surviving the Middle Ages: The Extraordinary Pursuit of Salvation
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The goal of many medieval people was to find eternal life. Notions of the afterlife can be found in religious practice and these convictions often dictated the way people lived, or at least the way they died. Simeon Stylites in the late Antique period and Emperor Maximilian I at the end of the Middle Ages are striking examples of the extraordinary pursuit of salvation. We find in the urge to survive one’s mortality curious ritual, extreme asceticism, and stomach-turning physical mortification. Images of heaven and hell, life and death are consistently reflected in the religious practices of the Middle Ages. Relics and pilgrimages feature prominently in those dramatic pursuits as God and the Devil vie for the soul.