BAMBERG WITCH HUNT - what was the significance of the economic, political and religious context of the witch-hunt?

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  • 3.5A WHAT WAS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THE ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS CONTEXT OF THE WITCH-HUNT?
    • * reclaiming territory for the catholic church.
      • importance of bamberg: principality created to aid spread of christianity in germany, and became important centre of roman catholic church.
        • bamberg and the counter-ref: parish church of st michael in zeil holds ceiling painting of catholic faith victorious over protestant 'heretics' - form of propaganda, connecting protestantism and witchcraft
          • .JOHANN GOTTFRIED VON ASCHHAUSEN appointed as bamberg princebishop in 1609, prioritised conversion of protestant parishes to catholicism, and put in place sanctions which caused further resentment btwn catholics and protestants
      • the counter-reformation: led by zealous princebishops from across holy roman empire and gained momentum through influence of recently-established jesuit order
        • catholic emperors keen to promote jesuit cause; catholic faith became essential component of prince-bishopric; elites who governed these states supported habsburgs and enabled them to cement overall control
      • VON ASCHHAUSEN AND FIRST WITCH-TRIALS: had around 300 witches executed; influence of von dornheim and von thungen
        • 1610: new ordinance - investigation where people found practicing witchcraft would be severely punished - found that blasphemous practices still being carried out in bamberg
          • 1612: trial of lena pantzerin: no knowledge on how to examine a witch = outsider brought in; allowed for more accusations and prosecutions to take place
    • * the impact of the thirty years' war on bamberg.
      • origins of thirty years' war: lay in both religious divisions found in northern europe and ambitions of habsburg monarchy
        • habsburg emperors concerned with expanding territory through marriage = caused resentment in moravia and bohemia where protestants became bitter as result of counter-ref policies = defestrations in prague carried out on reps of emperor
          • HISTORIAN HUGH TREVOR ROPER argued that war led to increase in witch hunting across empire
            • HISTORIANS BENGT ANKERLOO, WILLIAM MONTER & STUART CLARK point to fact that in many areas, witch-hunting ceased with arrival of war
      • impact on bamberg: famine caused as result of soldiers requisitioning food = villages and towns plundered for supplies (combined with crop failures & inflation led to increased fear of witches as misfortune seen to be present everywhere)
        • bamberg catholics who fought for counter-ref more fanatical than ever = people deviating from orthodox catholic practices labelled as heretics and suspicion laid upon devil.
          • those targeted: 1. women whose sexual behavior deviated from that expected of catholic church; 2. people with views opposing catholics; 3. people known for healing/fortune-telling/sorcery; 4. members of upper classes
    • * economic crises.
      • impact of weather and crop failures: trial of wife of lorentz kempffen seebauer (1629) - reference to recent freezing conditions ; confession of katharina mercklerin (1629) - part of plot to freeze bamberg's crops
        • 'little ice age' = period of colder and unsettled weather in europe peaking btwn 1560-1660 - combined with debt from TYW amounted to state crisis
        • people created petitions demanding eradication of witches in certain areas.
          • HANS LANGHANS (mayor of zeil and executed himself for sorcery in 1628) - indicated petition produced after frost of may 1626 triggered some trials
      • inflation and economic crisis: gold florin reduced in gold content from 79% in early c15 to 77% in 1626 = led to inflation
        • people had little/no understanding of economics and so lacked ability to make informed interpretation = only possible explanation believed to be rational was that of magic and witchcraft
          • KUNIGUDTA RINDTERIN and MARGARETHA GUSSBACHERIN confessed to being in-league with devil in order to ease their poverty and suffering (economic causes as main reason for entering into diabolical pacts)

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