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The Effects Of The Witch Hunt In Early Modern Europe

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In early modern Europe, approximately 90,000 prosecutions for witchcraft transpired (Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, 2016, p. 21). Although what caused this iniquity cannot be narrowed down to any one event, there are a number of factors that are more predominant than others. The evolution of many facets of government in addition to naturally occurring disasters, such as crop failure, created a crisis mentality. This shaped the framework for what was to become the witch-hunts that plagued Europe throughout three centuries. While some historians have argued that religion was the principal factor, there is a more compelling argument that social changes were, in fact, the catalyst for the witch panic.
Points that are often
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88-89). Literature like this gave the ruling class reason to deem witchcraft as a threat.
Moreover, as the ruling elite controlled the judicial process, their fear of witchcraft instigated another precondition to witch-hunts, laws supporting them. In the absences of a clearly defined jurisdiction overseeing crimes of witchcraft and the necessary “procedural tools” to successfully prosecute accused witches, witch-hunts were not able to arise. Thus, the ruling elite would establish new legal codes or statutes to accommodate these needs. Once the local courts were strengthened through these new laws there was a greater probability that a witch-hunt would ensue (Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, 2016, pp. 160-161).
Finally, the third precondition to the witch-hunts the manifestation of a crisis mentality within the community. This crisis mentality could develop by either direct discussions regarding witchcraft or indirect sources such as economic, political, or religious developments (Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, 2016, p. 162). For instance, poor economic developments incited a sequence of accusations in Germany between 1589 and 1591. Following the hunt’s loss of control, even the town’s former mayor was not immune to being accused and eventually executed (Levack, The Witchcraft Sourcebook, 2015, p. 199).
However, preconditions alone were not enough to initiate a
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