Images Of Witchcraft During Renaissance Culture

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Images of Witchcraft in Renaissance Culture

The witchcraft phenomenon of the Renaissance period was shaped by a wide range of cultural factors; witchcraft was not necessarily subject to a single cohesive idea or concept, and it was often instead a conglomeration of many different societal concerns, concerns which spanned through all spheres of society. Textual evidence from this period provides insight into the way in which witches were conceived, and how witches were dealt with, while visual images present a companion visualisation of the tensions, which influenced created the witch, and the imagery, which came to be associated with witchcraft.

The 1486 Malleus Maleficarum set up the precedent for the witchcraft craze, which came to its prime in the mid 16th century, during the Renaissance period. Though the Malleus was not the only factor in this craze, as Margaret Sullivan notes, ‘it made no discernable impact… for nearly half a century’ , it, with a number of other social factors, provided a wealth of information to witch hunts and hunters. This treatise further established several of the basic ideas essential to the identification of witches such as the identification of witches as largely women; through the treatise’s continual argument that women were of gullible and carnal nature the text further advocated ideas of fear and hatred in regards to women.

As the witch-hunting period grew, the real fears and tensions which plagued all levels of society is clear by
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