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Snow Day Discussion: Witch Trials in Era of Reformation

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Ruth McClelland-Nugent

on 17 March 2016

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Transcript of Snow Day Discussion: Witch Trials in Era of Reformation

Malleus Maleficarum,
"Hammer of Witches"
The Reformation
Snow Day Discussion: Witch Trials in an Era of Reformation
Protestantism and Daily Supernatural Life: Is Something Missing?
The Renaissance and Reformation: Times and Places
Malleus Maleficarum
Protestants and the longing for magic
Protestants v. the Virgin Mary

"Renaissance"= "Rebirth" c. 1350-1650
Rebirth of classical learning; Greek and Roman texts re-introduced to Europe, largely via Muslim Spain c. 12th century.
New intellectual movement spreads throughout Europe at different rates, earlier in the south, and somewhat later in the North.
The Italian renaissance is usually dated c. 1300-1500, while England's Renaissance period is loosely 1500-1650
many humanistic philosophers previously unknown (i.e., those focused on moral philosophy, rhetoric, politics, history, etc.)
The HUMANIST philosophers revamp university educations *studies of humanity * studies of God ("theology.")
Usually dates to 1517 and the publication of German monk Martin Luther's 95 Theses.
teachings about salvation, the nature of sacraments, the source of dogma, and the governance of the church.

major Protestant groups include Calvinist, Lutheran, and Anglican (Church of England)
Wars of Religion in France
30 Years War in the Holy Roman Empire.
Government and social instability helps play role in encouraging witch-hunts.
Written c. 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, a German Catholic clergyman. James Sprenger's involvement may be minimal
Kramer is a failed witch-hunter who had been expelled by the ecclesiastical authorities in Tyrol region
Despite claiming approval from University of Cologne, most faculty condemned it
In 1490, Catholic Church condemned
Malleus Maleficarum
as false.
Nevertheless, it is widely translated and re-published as a source on witchcraft.
Ironically, it will become very popular among Protestant intellectuals as a course on witchcraft

16th century European Protestants interacted with God quite differently than did Catholics

Devout Protestants were supposed to do away with the "idolatry" of Catholicism: statues of saints, rosaries, scapulars, and especially the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Marriage, Ordination, Penance*, and Unction*.

Protestants criticized these practices as un-Biblical and open to superstition.

Protestant answers to bad fortune--praying and fasting-- lacked the "touch and feel" element of many Catholic practices.

*(Today better known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick).
Saints and the Virgin Mary
Protestant reformers view the veneration of saints with especial ire. Only those figures found in the Bible may be honored, and only then as exemplars, not as intercessories. (In other words, the few remaining saints are examples to be followed, not people who can pray for those on earth.)

Of all saints, the Virgin Mary was an is accepted by those who believe as the greatest; as Jesus' mother, she is especially close to the Trinity. She was also a model of all three roles medieval women were supposed to play; virgin, wife/mother, and widow.

Nuns, for example, followed her holy example by being life-long virgins (considered the best role for women). But even mothers could comfort themselves that, despite being tainted by sex, they could still imitate Mary with she child.

No earthly woman can be both virgin and mother at once! Clergy could safely praise ehr while denigrating ordinary women.

Protestant women have no comparable female figure who is so honored. While Biblical women such as Deborah, Ruth, and even Mary may be admired, they lack the Catholic Mary's power

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