The demise of the walking dead : the rise of purgatory and the end of revenancy
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Folklore and popular belief strongly affect human behavior in any age, showing how people think, what they fear and how they react. The belief in the existence of the walking dead, that is, revenants, is no exception. Here, the possible reasons for the prevalence of the belief in the walking dead, as well as its comfortable existence within human culture are examined. The existence of the belief in these very corporal monsters, persevering at least into the thirteenth century in north-western Europe, cannot be disputed. However, subsequently, it diminished and then virtually disappeared. What force could be effective and widespread enough to remove this perception of the very physical threat of the dead bodily walking again among the living? Here, it is argued that it was the effects of the emergence of Purgatory that lead to the extinction of the revenant. Using various texts mainly from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries, this study aims to capture this process of change within the folkloric beliefs of the people, to follow the procession of revenants into oblivion.