Carlo Ginzburg's Salem Possessed : The Social Origins Of Witchcraft?

2004 Words9 Pages
Witch craft has been studied for hundreds of years and authors are still finding more and more information In Carlo Ginzburg’s work, The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century, he attempts to locate the origin of the of the benandanti and how they came to be tried in a similar fashion to witches in Friuli, Italy. The benandanti were a group that claimed that their spirits went to fight witches during certain times of the year. Ginzburg goes into great detail on the many trials associated with the benandanti during this time. In Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum’s work, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft, the two authors give an in-depth look into the witch trials that plagued…show more content…
He also argues that the elite inquisitors would use their higher inelegance to conform the benandanti stories to fit the frame work of a witch trial, focusing mainly on the Sabbath. Ginzburg starts by giving the first recorded benandanti trial in chapter one. The man on trial, Paulo Gasparutto said he was born the with the caul (membrane wrapped around a baby’s head at birth) and was called upon by a spirit in his sleep when he was in his 20’s to go fight witches. In order to find the origins of these beliefs, Ginzburg investigates other trials in the areas surrounding Friuli that dealt with accused benandanti, self-proclaimed benandanti, and those who claimed to possess similar abilities. In these trials, the accused told inquisitors of their abilities and these abilities were almost always related to the abilities explained in the first benandanti trial. These trials outside of Friuli make it clear that the benandanti most likely originated from an ancient fertility cult that resided in ancient Europe and lost most of its members when the Christianity swept through Europe. During these trials Ginzburg points out that the inquisitors would attempt to compare the benandanti’s good works with that of the witches Sabbath. Many of the benandanti thought they were doing the work of god or their people, but after questioning from the inquisitors their

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