Witchcraft Paper One

Witchcraft Paper One - Witchcraft Paper One The witch...

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Witchcraft Paper One The witch hunting craze in Early Modern Europe was a unique event in history where belief in witchcraft and the violent repression of accused witches soared to unprecedented levels. This trend occurred in the wake of major events and changes that began to modernize European society, and test major religious institutions while at the same time retaining its patriarchal and hierarchical nature. Witches were tried aggressively by both the Church and secular institutions in Germany and other parts of Central Europe. However, in some cases, like Italy and Portugal, witchcraft was not pursued with the same fervor because of a different political, social, and religious climate. This led to a different interpretation how witchcraft and other illicit magic affected their culture, and therefore how it should be pursued. Overall, the occurrence of witchcraft and witch- hunts related heavily to the social, religious, and political construction of the areas in which it did or did not take place. In order to understand why the European witch-craze occurred, it is first important to understand the cultural and political environment in which it took place. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, at the peak of the rage, Europe was a highly patriarchal and religious society that was rocked at the foundation by the beginning of modernization, the Protestant Reformation, and many other factors. One of the highlights of the modernizing society was the newly invented printing press, which enabled literature to become widespread. This in turn helped people who could not read before have access to reading material and become literate. Around 1487 the Malleus Maleficarum , a witch-hunting manual written by Inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, was published and
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distributed widely throughout Europe, starting in Germany and quickly making its way across the continent. While not an entirely realistic manifesto against witchcraft, the Malleus Maleficarum certainly had an effect on the way it was pursued by both religious and secular institutions by establishing witchcraft as a heretical crime and prescribing death as the most practical punishment. In fact, the first statement made by Kramer and Sprenger in the book was that “the belief that there are such beings as witches is so essential a part of the Catholic faith that obstinately to maintain the opposite opinion manifestly savours of heresy”(Malleus Maleficarum, 1), in plain English, to deny that witches exist was a blatant heresy against the Catholic Church. Making witchcraft a heretical crime served the sole purpose of creating a new religious fervor in witchcraft, which had been dismissed by the Church in previous eras but now was embraced as a serious threat. The text also defined the practices and powers of witches, and in doing this
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This note was uploaded on 10/18/2008 for the course HIST 300 taught by Professor Conger during the Spring '08 term at Ithaca College.

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Witchcraft Paper One - Witchcraft Paper One The witch...

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