This special issue of JMEMS addresses different ways of thinking through death and dying in the medieval and early modern period, including different philosophical and legal positions concerning the relationships between the body and its parts, corpses and burial sites, the bodies of saints and the bodies of criminals, the bodies of the dying confessing on their deathbeds and the bodies of suicides choosing to be buried with their souls unprepared. A new frame of knowledge becomes possible when we familiarize ourselves with the face of death. The six essays presented in this special issue do not revolt against the prospect of death, do not neglect what in the early modern period was called “the art of living and dying,” but perform their own version of the “dance of death” as they reconstruct in multifaceted layers the social and at times the political reality of dying present in an array of medieval and early modern European materials.

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