Roman Catholic Reformation: Witchcraft During The Middle Ages

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The Reformation was a period when several religious leaders began to challenge the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, causing many to convert to an amended version of Catholicism called Protestantism. This change sparked another movement called the Catholic Reformation or otherwise known as the Counter Reformation. Not only did this movement attempt to oppose Protestantism, but also sought to eliminate corruption within the church, educate the clergy, and reclaim areas that were lost to Protestantism (Levack). During this time, the number of witch hunts and trials also escalated, but this practice was not an unfamiliar concept. Witchcraft during the Middle Ages was condemned as a sin and a pagan practice encouraged by the devil. …show more content…

Even though the concept of the Devil was widely known throughout Europe, these significant reformers emphasized the presence of the Devil and exhibited a more profound fear of him. Martin Luther reported having multiple instances with the Devil and said that the Devil "liveth, yea and reigneth throughout the whole world." He believed that the Devil deceived the mind with wicked thoughts and opinions and the effects the Devil had on the human could be sensed both mentally and physically. John Calvin was just as interested in the study of demonology and the negative effects the Demon could have on the human soul. He believed that the "true Christian saint" had to engage in an unending battle against him. Soon this fear of the Devil grew into fears of sorcery, and the raised awareness of diabolical activity made superstitious Europeans the more eager to persecute witches as agents of the Devil (Levack). In the early 1540s, Luther and Calvin also both approved witch hunting in their hometowns (Oldridge). Many Protestants relied on successful preaching to spread their ideas as this new religion had to be promoted successfully and without misunderstanding about certain themes. Fortunately, since Luther and Calvin, known to be very good speakers and also very popular among the people, they had significant influence over people and had the ability to spread their ideas far and

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