A Lutheran Plague: Murdering to Die in the Eighteenth Century
October 11, 2019 11:04 PM Subscribe
Suicide-murders, with suicidal people killing so that they themselves will be executed, fill the annals of early modern European history. So why didn’t the murdering misérables just kill themselves? At the time, a common religious belief held that “if you took your life, you had absolutely no chance of going to heaven,” says Jeffrey Watt, a history professor at the University of Mississippi. But if you killed someone else, you could repent before the execution and have your sins pardoned, he adds, shedding light on the murderous intent. Essentially, you’d have a better shot at getting past the pearly gates if you killed someone else rather than yourself. And children were the preferred victims because they were more easily dispatched, and because folks believed that their young, innocent souls were more likely to make it to heaven, Watt explains.
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