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Lecture

Witch Hunts


Department
History
Course Code
HIS243H1
Professor
Nicholas Terpstra

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Early Modern Europe Tues Nov. 30th 2010
Witch Hunt in E.M. Europe
1) Emerging Stereotype
Religious beliefs held very deeply therefore any departure from these beliefs is taken
very seriously.
Witches seen as a threat to the whole body of society which is what makes them so
dangerous.
However this was not always the case, earlier it was believed while witches could be a
nuisance, they weren't too much of a both, and there could be such thing as a good witch.
In the late 14th and early 15th there was a developing fear of witches.
It was thought through a good part of the middles ages that ones access to natural and
spiritual sources give witches their power,
however later as the concept of the devil evolves (he has far more access to the world,
he is far more dangerous, and has a whole range of spiritual helpers).
in 15th/16th century Germany they believed there was a much larger population of
demons than man. Strong sense that the demons are out there and that they are a real
threat.
This idea is coming from some key sources.
Malleus Maleficarum (1486) written by two Dominican monks and experienced
inquisitors. It is a guide to identifying and successfully prosecuting witches. It
explains what it dangerous about witches and how the law should deal with them. In
latin, with a papal bull and signed certificate from a theology faculty at the most
important school in Germany.
Demon Mania (1580) - emphasises witch crafts threat not only to the religious
community, but also the political and civil community.
Compendium Maleficarum - witch hunting for dummies.
Important facts
All witchcraft is devil worship - no good witches.
Witches renounce the Christian faith and make a deliberate pact with the
devil, and the devil then puts his mark or sign on the witch, and may give them a
companion (familiar). Note the contract language here. Mark can be a mole, wart,
birthmark.
Notion of worshipping the devil, kisses his buttocks instead of the christian
kiss of peace.
Witches work with the devil to ruin God’s world and the lives of God’s
followers. Their spells damage crops, hinder human and animal fertility, and
cause sickness and plague. These acts against fertility are acts to kill the
community.
Witches regularly in great feasts called sabbats to honor and worship the devil
with orgies and cannibalization. Would be eating babies, though often un-
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