A few centuries ago in Europe, the fear of witchcraft led to witch hunts and executions. These occurred mostly in France, Germany, northern Italy, and Switzerland. “Tens of thousands of people in Europe and European colonies died,” and “millions of others suffered from torture, arrest, interrogation, hate, guilt, or fear,”. It is estimated that the early modern witch trials claimed the lives of nine million Europeans, 80% of whom were women which led early feminists such as Margaret Murray, Mary Daly and Barbara Ehrenreich, among others, to wonder: “Was the witch-hunt an intentional woman-hunt”. Back then, women were accused of being witches since Accusations of witchcraft required no evidence of guilt. The trials were “intended only to produce
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
In addition to all of this, Karleson has established statistically, that women who were married but had no children, women who were married but had only daughters, and finally women who were daughters of parents who had no male offspring were more vulnerable to cause of witchcraft. (Page 101) What this shows is the clear linkage of economic interest and the importance of
Witch hunts blazed across Europe over the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries not just killing innumerable innocent people, but stripping women of much of the power they had once held, and changing society's perceptions of women all together. The economic hardships, religious rivalries, and troubled politics of the time made accusing your neighbors of witchcraft convenient. Where there was war and poverty, or merely bad luck, peasants would assume witchcraft and rush to blame an old, defenseless woman in trials which involved unbelievable cruelty and horrible sadism. As religion and the Catholic Church began to complement and perpetuate the increasing hysteria, European society as a whole could do nothing but
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.
Many people believed that this was because women were more restricted. For example, if a man had a complaint or grudge, he would take straightforward actions. Women’s ability to take straightforward actions were well more restricted by limitations, so they relied to more underhanded action, thus being witchcraft. “The power wielded by cunning folk was potentially dangerous whether in the hands of men or women, but it seemed especially threatening if possessed by a woman because it contradicted gender norms that placed women in subordinate positions.” (Escaping Salem p. 150). As stated in Escaping Salem around four-fifths of those accused in seventeenth-century New England were females because they were more vulnerable to witch accusations. According to historian Elizabeth Reis English colonist shared that, “Women’s bodies were physically weaker than men’s” and that therefore “the Devil could more frequently and successfully gain access to and possess women’s
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.
In Europe from the late fifteenth to early seventeenth centuries many people, both men and women, were persecuted as witches. The reasons for the persecution of individuals as witches included gender discrimination, religious fanaticism, an explanation for the otherwise unexplainable events that took place, and even as a way for secular officials to gain more wealth. Misogyny being a cause to the witch trials may have resulted from the new roles of women in society conflicting with the traditional views of women as sinful, and also accounts for why the majority of individuals persecuted were women. A religious spark was ignited during the Protestant Reformation as people became more religiously devoted and wanted to eliminate threats to their faith, such as witches. Many strange occurrences such as disease or even non-harmful events that were simply unexplainable led people to believe witches as the causes. Some people may have not even believed another person to be a witch but may have just wanted wealth and that person’s possessions and declared them a witch for that reason. All these factors contributed to the period now known as the witch craze, which resulted in the torture and death of many people.
In 17th-century Colonial America, contact with the supernatural was considered part of everyday life; many people believed that evil spirits were present and active on Earth. This superstition emerged 15th century Europe and spread with the colonization of North American puritan colonies. Women were believed to be the most susceptible to demonic behavior; females were considered simple targets for Satan due to being viewed as the weaker sex physically, spiritually, and morally. Women who did not conform to the Puritan ideals at the time were usually ostracized, institutionalized, or brutally murdered. In 1692, thirteen women were famously put on trail for accusations of witchcraft; famously known as the Salem Witch Trails. Most of these women were put on trial and later burned to death for erratic and un-Godly behaviors, 78% of the people charged were women who were accused of doing devilish things such as; speaking out against church officials, being a financially wealthy widow, having pre marital sex, or just being too beautiful. According to Michael Coren’s Why Catholics are Right “five million women were killed by the Church as witches… witch hunts began in the sixteenth century in Europe and that between 30,000 and 50,000 men and women were burned to death for
Witches have been around for centuries and everyone has either seen them or even dressed up as them for Halloween. It is a common thought that witches are bad and that they are the stereotypical look with the pointy black hat, broomstick, or the horrid looking face. Yet it is not common to know that it is believed that witches are tightly tied with the Devil and that was one reason that they would be executed. It is now a normal idea that all witches are women but why is that? Is it because women have always been subjugated to be worse than men or is it just another way that women were being controlled? To demonize something or another group it allows some to show them as a threat and this was an easy way for those who held the power to not let anyone rise above or to have the entire community go against one singular group or person. When someone was demonized between the 14th century to the 18th century it was common to call them a witch or state that they were associated with the Devil. During this set of time religion had most control over people so stating that they were associated with the Devil instantly set that they were evil and needed to be killed.
In this article by the BBC, the origin of witch culture is explained and questioned. The questions of, “Why did witchcraft become so popular?” and, “What made these women so appealing to artists are writers?” were mainly addressed. While the article does say that the earliest example of witchcraft is cited in the Bible, it claims that our modern idea of witches wasn't fully created until the early Renaissance by German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer. He created art that shows witches as young, beautiful creatures that could lure men to their deaths, as well as depicting them being old and ugly sitting on top of goats. In one of these paintings where the witches are shown as nasty, there is even one clutching a broom, creating the beginning
An English witch is believed by the public to be someone who causes harm and hurts others. Not someone who finds lost goods or a person who cures diseases. For someone to be accused of being a witch the public had to believe that someone was trying to do harm to them. An example of this would be a curse that was uttered by a witch in order to do harm to a person or a group of people. The common clergy as well as the common people believed that cursing was an evil act and they used prayer and counter spells in order to remedy anything that could happen as a result of a curse being uttered.2 Another aspect that the popular belief supported finding witches and witches who performed maleficent magic. The populace was not afraid of the common cunning man, however, they where afraid of magic that did harm to them or their property.3 Because of this the English witches where usually not common practitioners of magic. Rather they where people who where believed to be practitioners of maleficent magic. Cursing someone was one type of maleficent magic that could be performed. Witchcraft as perceived by the common man was not the helpful acts of the cunning persons but the hurtful acts of witches who practiced the maleficent or bad magic.
Witchcraft beliefs were, and still are very popular in many societies. Each period had its superstitions as well as their specific attitudes. This reiterates that people have always believed in ghosts, spirits, demons, and witches as well as in individuals with abnormal powers and abilities. This paper is going to explain and compare the powers, abilities and background behind both witches and demons within the 15th, 16th and 17th century Christianity in England and Scotland and the actual beliefs followed while also examining the credulity of historic literature of the time.
In the mid-seventeenth century there was a great increase in the number of witchcraft accusations, more precisely in a little country located in southern Europe called Malta. At this time in Europe there was a system of tribunals, a court of justice, created by the Catholic Church called the Roman Inquisition (Carmel. 1993: 316-317). According to Caramel Cassar, the purpose of these tribunals at first was to keep the Catholic faith alive and to eliminate the spread of the Protestant faith (Carmel. 1993: 316-317). Unfortunately at the start of the seventeenth century the Catholic Church had a bigger
The people in the Medieval and Renaissance times understood and related so well because they believed witches were evil and used their powers for foul things. “The kinds of misfortune for which witchcraft was