Lights in the later Middle Ages
From devotion to destruction
in Eternal light and earthly concerns
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The last chapter traces the high-point of giving for the lights as guilds and confraternities mushroomed. A solid belief in Purgatory encouraged people to give in order to earn time off this pain. The use of wax for the lights grew until it was necessary to import wax into Western Europe. By the early sixteenth century, the cost of the lights was met predominantly by voluntary associations. The censuales and other tributary groups declined in a predominantly urban environment. Urban associations, however, gained control of much church funding, and they were instrumental in determining responses to reform teaching. When the belief in Purgatory came to an end, funding for the lights ended abruptly. This is the final twist in the relationship between belief and termaiality.

Eternal light and earthly concerns

Belief and the shaping of medieval society

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