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How far do you agree that the spread of info on witches and witchcraft was the main reason for the intensity of the persecution of witches? (The Witch Craze: Europe 1470 - 1600)
Transcript of How far do you agree that the spread of info on witches and witchcraft was the main reason for the intensity of the persecution of witches? (The Witch Craze: Europe 1470 - 1600)
about the collapsible needles. How far do you agree that the spread of information on witches and witchcraft was the main reason for the intensity of the persecution of witches? (30) The information itself:
Witcherature Credible, reliable, believable. Rooted in the past C10 - Canon episcopi (Regino of Prum) Although spoke of "goddess of the pagans", "Diana", condemned magical arts as heresy: "an innumerable multitude" of "wicked women, perverted by the devil" (+ cumulative effect) 1436-7 Formicarius (Johannes Nider) One of the first witchcraft treatises. Described as "men and women"; "paid homage to the devil, renounced their Christian faith" the Big One: 1487 - Malleus Malificarum Repudiated arguments that witchcraft did not exist.
Claimed that most witches were women rather than men.
Informed magistrates on how to discover and convict witches.
Included a papal bull recognizing the existence of witchcraft and giving permission for the persecution of witches as part of the preface to the book. Drew on earlier sources like the Formicarius.
So Papal approval + authority derived from earlier sources + comprehensive = popular manual! 1487 - 1520: Published 13 times
1574 - 1669: Published 16 times Papal approval = Witchcraft Is Real. Had been denied by Church in earlier centuries; now a tangible and dangerous threat to Christians. Misogynisitc in the extreme! Women were especially inclined to witchcraft because they were weaker than men: weaker in faith and more carnal. Hence the eagerness to form an
agreement with the Devil. Detailed instructions facilitated witch hunts. Detailed descriptions = Witchcraft Is Terrible and Terrifying. the Malleus accused witches of infanticide, cannibalism, casting evil spells etc - and gave examples, so people could easily believe it. Part of the surge of academic curiosity and debate; references to humanistic ideologies,
the Bible, Aristotelian ideas, astronomy and astrology all made it sound completely credible.
Written by academics, lawyers, judges and so on, not foaming, raving fanatics. And it was able to become so widely read because of the
invention of the printing
press in 1440 by
This allowed rapid, widespread distribution
of the Malleus and its contemporaries. People acted upon what these books said because they were But the Malleus was used by both Catholics and Protestants.
Why would Protestants act upon it? Academics, lawyers and judges churned out others such as:
Demonomanie des Sorciers, 1580 (recommended torture, even for children)
Demonolatreiae, 1595 (gave detailed description of activites at the Sabbath)
Discourse des sorciers, 1602 (reprinted 8 times)
Compendium Maleficarum, 1608 (included pictures! Although... Mostly only the rich, powerful figures in society were literate these higher echelons devoured these works. This led to belief in malevolent,
Devil-worshipping witches f
g down from above. So when the lower classes decided to persecute a witch, the ruling elite didn't obstruct them; if anything, they would have approved. Surely this meant that the persecution could be more intense. [the Malleus]
"all witchcraft comes from carnal lust,
which is in women insatiable" Of course, Women were usually the cooks, healers and midwives. This obviously gave them the opportunity to practise evil magic. ...and they couldn't stand up for themselves like men could. Easy targets Female. Unless you're Russian. Most accused witches were female 86% in Scotland Except in Russia, FInland, Iceland and Estonia. where the majority were male, Perhaps most convictions were of women because:
women were perceived as morally and intellectually weaker than men
women were perceived as more likely to give in to sexual desires (the Malleus said "all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable")
customarily female roles lent themselves to opportunities for witchcraft: cooking, healing, midwifery.
society was dominated by males. Women could not stand up for themselves. Old. Decrepit, if you can manage it. (At least by the standards of the time) Of those whose ages were known, 87% of accused witches in Essex,
and 75% in Geneva, were over 50 Of their professions: "wise women" and folk healers were usually elderly
Of encroaching mental problems: senility could lead to anti-social behaviour, which bred mistrust
Of their waning influence on others: as their social influence/physical power waned, they were perceived as being more likely to resort to sorcery to fulfil their wishes
Of their rampaging libidos: older women (main target!), particularly widows and spinsters, were seen as cougars. ("Quite why the Devil should have been so attracted sexually to the elderly was never satisfactorily explained.") Perhaps because... However, it wasn't exclusively the old who were accused of witchcraft. In Wurzburg, Germany, >25% of executed witches 1627-29 were children. Basically, unable to defend themself. Old Female Young Poor Most of those accused came from the poorer sections of society. in at least one respect - there were other factors too - Easy victims. It took til the later stages of large-scale hunts
for relatively wealthy people to be accused.
By that time, people were used to the idea. It also helped if they were a bit odd. Religious and moral deviance went down a storm. Outcasts were easy to pick on. and so these people could be used as scapegoats by their communities. Other general indications of witchcraft were... A pact with the Devil shown by which meant they were evil, dangerous and a threat to everything Christian. taking part in Sabbaths being denounced by another witch a relationship with other known witch(es) blasphemy! having some of the things needed to perform black magic ...and not crying when tortured. The state of life at the time Religion was central to the philosophy of life The Devil was believed to be a physical being constantly out to get you. therefore, life was seen as a battle a constant struggle between good and evil Christianity and the Devil (Martin Luther even stated that he actually, physically wrestled with the Devil) With the Reformation, there was an increase in teaching about the Devil, so it was constantly on people's minds and Exodus 22.18 backed up the idea of evil, anti-Christian witches: "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"