Growth and Decline of Witch Hunting

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  • Created on: 16-05-19 21:58
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  • Growth and Decline of Witchcraft
    • Witchcraft Literature
      • Papal Bull 1484
        • Declared witchcraft an exceptional crime
          • Legal limits on torture could be removed to obtain evidence
          • Witchcraft persecution had progressed from maleficium to devil worship
            • Devil's Mark
            • Large meetings (Covern)
        • Coming from the Pope, this had a huge influence on the majority of the population
        • Increased spread of witchcraft literature
      • Malleus Malificarum 1486
        • Written by Heinrich Kramer
        • Established stereotypes for witches
          • Invariably women
        • Created an urgency about the issue of Witchcraft
          • A third devoted to educated judges on how to prosecute witches
        • Impact
          • Had a long term effect on the type of people prosecuted
            • Further reinforced by woodcuts such as 'Witch riding backwards on a goat', portraying women as the embodiment of sexual power
              • Seduced by the deviil
          • Did not spark the witchcraze, in fact resulting in an initial reduction in cases
            • After 1560 prosecutions did increase, and more witchcraft literature was printed
              • Bodin (one of Europe's finest thinkers)
              • Remy (executed over 800 witches)
              • Del Rio (Spanish Jesuit)
      • Daemonologie 1597
        • Led to a stronger, inquisitorial response to witchcraft
          • Helped to drive the North Berwick Witch Hunts
          • Said to have influenced Hopkins in East Anglia
        • Written by James VI of Scotland
    • Religious Developments
      • Martin Luther and John Calvin stressed the presence of the devil
        • The Bible said "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"
        • Wanted to purify society
          • Persecution was most intense in areas of intense religious division
            • Political instability and violence
            • Areas such as Italy, Spain, and Scandinavia with no religious divide saw smaller scale hunts
            • However, correlations suggest that religion was more of a pre condition than a reason for prosecution
              • Witchunting began well before the Reformation of 1517
              • French 'Wars of Religion' saw a decline in prosecutions
            • Fear of moral subversion
      • Catholics saw Protestantism as the work of the devil
        • Wanted to purify society
          • Persecution was most intense in areas of intense religious division
            • Political instability and violence
            • Areas such as Italy, Spain, and Scandinavia with no religious divide saw smaller scale hunts
            • However, correlations suggest that religion was more of a pre condition than a reason for prosecution
              • Witchunting began well before the Reformation of 1517
              • French 'Wars of Religion' saw a decline in prosecutions
            • Fear of moral subversion
    • Socio-Economic Factors
      • Gender
        • Patriarchal society
          • Seen as more likely to succumb to the devil's temptations as they were morally weaker
          • Single women even more likely to be seduced by the Devil
            • Rise in single women as a result of wars/decline in nunneries
        • Male witches were often prosecuted through denunciations when hunts got out of control
          • 90% of witches in Iceland were men
      • Class Conflict
        • Growth in Capitalism
          • Undermined charity in times of poverty
          • Lessened communal solidarity as the rich found commerical ways to get richer
      • Changing social structures
        • Witches were thought to struggle in life, resorting to begging
        • Feelings of resentment in times of economic crisis
      • Arguments against:
        • A lot of areas suffering from worse hardships saw no witch hunts
    • Wars and Natural Disasters
      • War led to extreme loss of life and decline in general quality of life
        • Also increased overall fear/anxiety
        • Loss of life = more widows = more people fit the stereotype of witch
        • Lower quality of life = more social tensions
          • Often neighbors were accused due to interpersonal tensions
      • Disease
        • Plagues, coupled with a lack of education, meant scapegoats were sought out
          • Often neighbors were accused due to interpersonal tensions
      • Weather Magic
        • Mini Ice-Age
          • Impacted the amount of land that could be cultivated
        • Ancient belief
          • One witch wasn't strong enough to conjure weather magic, led to collective accusations
      • Arguments Against:
        • War created a real enemy, no need for scapegoats
        • Political instability meant prosecution of witches was halted
    • Top Down
      • Growth in power of the authorities, and centralisation
        • Took more of an interest in religion, wanted to impose moral conformity
      • Weak central authorities encouraged prosecutions
      • The elite were responsible through literature for the spread of diabolism
    • Bottom Up
      • The accused were often anti-social and unliked
      • Anxieties from below forced action from those above
      • Refusal of charity
    • Decline
      • Legal Changes
        • Standards of Evidence
        • Rules on torture
          • Forbidden in the 1700s
        • Confessions put down to mental illness
      • Religious Changes
        • Closer study of the bible found little reference to witchcraft/devil-worship
      • Intellectual Changes
        • Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment
          • Greater level of rationalism
          • Greater scientific understanding challenged supernatural ideas
      • Socio-Economic Developments
        • Standard of living and economy improved

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