European Witch Trials: Their Foundations in Popular and by Richard Kieckhefer

By Richard Kieckhefer

In well known culture witches have been both practitioners of magic or those that have been objectionable not directly, yet for early ecu courts witches have been heretics and worshippers of the satan. This examine concentrates at the interval among 1300 and 1500 while principles approximately witchcraft have been being shaped and witch-hunting used to be accumulating momentum. it's interested in distinguishing among the preferred and discovered rules of witchcraft. the writer has built his personal method for distinguishing well known from realized strategies, which supplies sufficient substantiation for the reputation of a few records and the rejection of others.

This contrast is by means of an research of the contents of folks culture relating to witchcraft, the main uncomplicated characteristic of that's its emphasis on sorcery, together with physically damage, love magic, and climate magic, instead of diabolism. the writer then indicates how and why discovered traditions turned superimposed on renowned notions – how humans taken to court docket for sorcery have been finally convicted at the extra cost of satan worship. The booklet ends with an outline of the social context of witch accusations and witch trials.

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Extra resources for European Witch Trials: Their Foundations in Popular and Learned Culture, 1300-1500

Sample text

The intense witch hunting of this stage anticipated, if it did not equal, the witch craze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Once again there is correlation between judicial and literary developments. 55Even if these writings were not solely responsible for the acceleration of trials, they surely must have contributed greatly towards that result. By far the majority of cases during this final period occurred in France, Germany, and Switzerland. Only a few took place in England and Italy, and virtually none in further countries.

Such trials raise numerous questions. We must now turn to the one most fundamental problem that these incidents pose: which of the notions set forth arose from popular tradition, and which came from learned belief. Chapter III Distinction o f Popular and Learned Traditions The first step towards ascertainment of popular tradition is to determine which documents are most faithful repositories of that tradition. For obvious reasons literary texts-treatises on witchcraft, judicial manuals, chronicles, sermons, and so forth-cannot qualify as faithful sources for the beliefs of the illiterate masses.

What historians have failed to recognize, however,29is that there is serious reason to believe that Lamothe-Langon's texts are forgeries. The highly atypical nature of the allegations might reflect genuinely anomalous circumstances, and the mysterious disappearance of his documents would in itself prove nothing, though such losses were more common before and during the French Revolut i ~ n . ~But O when one couples these facts with certain inaccuracies and anachronisms in the reports, credibility is strained.

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