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The Causes Of The European Witch Trials In Europe

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Witch Trials in Europe
Before Christianity spread throughout Europe, village societies had “cunning folk” (McLean). These men and women were believed to have practiced magic and act as healers for the members of society (McLean). When Christianity collided with folk culture, many townspeople viewed the Christian clergy as similar to the cunning folk (“The European Witch Hunts”). Eventually, the clergymen claimed that their powers came directly from God, and any other magic was the work of the Devil (McLean). They called the people who practiced this magic, the people formerly known as “cunning folk,” witches (“The European Witch Hunts”). Witches and witchcraft were observed with fear and condemnation but very little violence. Around 1000 CE, as the “concept of Satan, the Biblical Devil, began to develop into a more threatening form,” the idea of witchcraft began to be seen as a dangerous and terrifying to Christianity and God (McLean). While there were witch hunts between the 11th and 14th centuries, the prevalence of the Black Plague caused a staggering increase in the amount of accusations (Lewis). In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull condemning witchcraft, and later that decade, in 1486, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger published Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of Witches, which detailed how to discover and try witches (Lewis). These two actions sparked a long period of constant witch hunts (McLean). With the invention of the printing press, the mania was
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