The image of the witch did not exist until the late fifteenth century. While the witch did exist in the popular imagination, the term “witch” was not yet synonymous with “female.” Although the witch craze was an early modern phenomenon, the stereotype of the female witch is rooted in several elements of late medieval witchcraft which antedate the witch hunts, and the time period that scholars recognize as most critical for the formation of the witch lies between the years 1430 and 1660. Before this time period, witchcraft, sorcery, and maleficium (magic) were dismissed as false superstition. Gradually, much of Medieval Europe began seriously believing that they were dealing with an omnipresent, uncontrollable threat of as many as “ten …show more content…
Arguably, the most important medieval work on witchcraft was the Malleus maleficarum, or the Hammer of Witches, written by Dominican inquisitor Heinrich Kramer in 1487. With 30,000 copies and over thirty different editions in circulation by the end of the seventeenth century, the Malleus can be considered an early modern “best seller”. Without the invention of the printing press forty years before, it is unlikely that the witch craze would have taken on such a large following. According to Eisenstein, the witch-craze was actually a by-product of Gutenberg’s invention. Kramer was a highly educated professor of theology at the University of Salzburg, Austria. After its publication, the Malleus was widely used as a handbook for the persecution of witches throughout Europe. In Part I, Kramer establishes the reality of witches and how the disbelief in witchcraft and demonology was heresy; Part II, Kramer describes stories of witchcraft; and finally, in Part III he provides instructions for the legal procedures to be followed in witch trials. The Malleus is most famous for its cementing of the female diabolical witch in Christendom. Two decades ago, historian Christina Larner warned that while studying the feminization of
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Hunting for witches has been going on for more than four centuries (from the 14th to the 17th century) and was a deeply rooted social phenomenon. It was born in feudalism and lasted until the "age of reason". It took different forms at different times and places, but never lost the essential character of the terrorist campaign of the ruling class against the female population. The witches were perceived as a political, religious and sexual threat to both Protestant and Catholic churches, and to the
Most observers now agree that witches in the villages and towns of the late Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century New England tended to be poor. They were usually not the poorest women in the community, but the moderately poor. Karlsen tries to show that a woman who was vulnerable was most likely to be accused of being a witch. Even women who had gained wealth because of the death of a husband were prime candidates.
Witchcraft was defined for the masses by the publication of the Malleus Maleficarium also known simply as the Handbook. Written by two Dominican friars in 1486 it’s purpose was to be used as a handbook to identify, capture, torture, and execute suspected witches. Opinions stated as facts and written in the Malleus Maleficarium, “handbook”, were based their faith, church doctrine, and the Bible. No doubt a religious masterpiece in it’s time this handbook is a neatly woven together a group of beliefs, experiences, wisdom of ancient writers, religious ideas, and God inspired writings that justify it’s purpose. Written by and used by Catholics this handbook proved useful for Protestants as well. Based on biblical interpretation and ideas the handbook provided Protestant Church leaders biblical authority to prosecute witchcraft as well. Translated into today’s vernacular phrases such as, “everybody knows that women are feeble minded” or “everybody knows that women are more superstitious than men” and “all women have slippery tongues” are included in the handbook and presented to the reader as foregone conclusions. Specific
For more than two hundred years, individuals were persecuted as witches throughout the continent of Europe, even though the witch hunt was concentrated on Southwestern Germany, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Poland, and parts of France. In a collective frenzy. witches were sought, identified, arrested, mostly tortured, and tried for a variety of reasons. The total number of witches tried exceeded 100,000 people. This essay is supposed to identify three major reasons for the witch craze in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe.
The century of 1550-1650, encompassing a portion of the reign of the Stuart Dynasty, has become known as “‘The Burning Times’ – the crazes, panics, and mass hysteria.” This time period has been recognized as the peak of “witch-hunting” and persecution of witches within early modern England and as well as Europe. By accusing certain outcasts of witchcraft within the villages, it often provided the common people of England a “logical” reason when trying to rationalize unexplainable events, such as a premature death or a bad harvest. This paper will display what sorts of people, mainly women, were being persecuted for witchcraft and the reasoning behind why these women were accused. Women at the time were viewed as more susceptible to evil,
“Have you ever wondered if Magic or witches and wizards really exist in this modern world? Well yes, they do exist, and they are quite active in the modern world. There are more than 10 million witches in the United States, with new practitioners on the rise daily.”(Caine) Being a witch is much different than what you may have seen in the movies. There is real magic to the craft, but witches or wizards don 't walk around turning people into to frogs with a flick of their magic wands. They don 't disappear into thin air, nor do they fly around through the night on broomsticks. They also don 't live in a big castle or mansion. They walk around as normal people and you wouldn 't be able to tell them apart for anyone else. The art of real witchcraft is one of the oldest practices in the world. “The oldest instruments of the real craft that have been discovered date back to 40,000 years ago, while the practice of real witchcraft dates back to paleolithic times. It is very much a way of life, as you may have heard from the modern followers of Wicca. During the middle ages, and in the event known as The Inquisition, the practice of witchcraft became outlawed throughout most of the Christianized world, an offense punishable by death.”(Caine) A witchcraft frenzy broke out in the early colonial history of America in Salem, Massachusetts. Insane torture tactics were put in by the church to draw out confessions. This period of time is often cited as the start of "the burning times."
Reginald Scot explores the common perceptions towards witches in the late sixteenth century, which he claims they were commonly old, lame, full of wrinkles, poor (Levack 2004: ?), although not necessarily solitary (Larner 1984: 72). Scot claims that their appearance often caused alarm among many in the community and caused the neighbours to find truth in witches utterings. One could argue women were often ascribed with such stereotypes, for they were both physically and politically weakened, and were unable to distance themselves from accusations (levack 1984: 127). It is apparent the oppression of these women could represent an attempt to maintain hegemony in a patriarchal society in the late sixteenth century. Coincidentally, most women accused of sorcery often lived out of the constraints of male authority, where they would live alone, perhaps for the rest of her life.
A woman was once looked upon as a healer, ancient persist, mid wife, therapist, cook, sever of goddess, a positive figure, etc. As time went on, women were not seen as they were originally portrayed. Women were eventually viewed as a witch. Each culture had a different perception on what a witch looked like, but each represented the same thing. In essence, the witch craze brought about the “dark side” of a female. Some causes of “witch craze” in the fifteenth century would include hallucinations, people not wanting to be tortured and people needing something to blame misfortune on.
Many of the acts associated with witches that are prevalent in the literature on this subject seem to be of a diabolical nature. The primary cause of this is that the elites had access to a literary medium which tended to leave behind sources that the historian can access in a more direct manner than the mainly oral traditions of popular culture (p. 61 course manual). These oral traditions were the primary means of conveyance for these
Witch hunting was the persecution and possible execution of individuals considered to be ‘witches’ loyal to the devil. It was an all too common occurrence from 1603-1712 all over Europe. However in order to understand why this happened the context must be taken into account. It was a time of change, the Renaissance - the rebirth of culture, ideas and attitudes to living. The Reformation had also only been implemented in England in the last 80 years back from 1603, when it had previously been catholic for centuries. The English civil war from 1642 to 1651 is argued to have played a part in the intensification of the witch hunts in England due to the peak in executions whilst it was on going. Some historians have taken the view that in time of crisis certain groups can be victimised like in wars, famine, disease outbreaks and changes in society structure.
During my study of witchcraft I looked into a number of sources to help me gain insight into the period of 1560-1660 in order to put forward a strong argument in my coursework. A valuable source was Levack “The witch-hunt in early modern Europe”. It offers the reader a thorough and objective examination of witch-hunts and is consistent with the numbers of explanations given from religion to the misogynistic argument. The explanations provided are both easy to understand and therefore have been beneficial to help me form my own conclusions. His book is easily followed with its layout of various tables, charts and references to specific witch-hunt episodes in addition to a bibliography provided for further research.
Witchcraft was a very prominent issue in Europe. Europeans defined witchcraft as the “practice of harmful, black or maleficent magic: the performance of harmful deeds by means of some sort of extraordinary, mysterious, occult, preternatural or supernatural power.” Witches were known to do acts as horrendous as inflicting sickness onto a child. Maleficium was the term used to refer to the harmful magic practiced by witches, the witches themselves were referred to as malefici
“Witch! Witch!” The girls yelled as they came running into the town, “We’ve seen Goody Ann with the devil!” Everyone stared at them shocked by the news. “We must kill her!” one person yelled from the crowd, “Burn her at the stake!” another yelled.
For the fifty years preceding this document, England was plagued with political unrest in the ascension of James I, and his belief in the divine right of Kings. His rise to the throne saw him bring the trials and tribulations of witchcraft and witch-hunting from Scotland, and enforce a 1604 prohibition of conjuring magic. The emergence of this pamphlet in 1645 came about in the early years of the English Civil War, a time that saw an increase in the witch-hunts undertaken by self-proclaimed hunter general Matthew Hopkins. This thematic essay will cover three themes that are paramount in comprehending the way those in society viewed witches, their superstitions and the consequences that faced them: these will be symbolism, gender, and the social perception of witches.