The Chronology of Witch Hunts

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  • Created on: 14-05-19 12:58
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  • Chronology of Witch Hunts in the Early Modern Period
    • Chronological Patterns
      • Before the 1420s, the concept that witchcraft and magic as crimes were being slowly formed.
        • It was between 1375 and 1420 in which countries like Italy experienced an increase in trials for diabolism - when the Inquisitorial procedure became more common in local courts
    • 1420-1520: The Initial Stage of Witch Hunts
      • At the turn of the 1420s, witchcraft accusations were beginning to take a new turn.
        • By this time the full witches stereotype had been formed and the notion of those attending witches sabbath's also became apparent.
          • Importantly, this period also saw the take off of published works, notably the Malleus Maleficarum, but also other works such as Ulrich Molitor's 'Concerning Witches and Female Soothsayers' (1489).
            • As Brian Levack notes, the availability of printed literature surrounding witches acted as a vehicle of communicating ideas.
    • The Implication of Treatises
      • The impact of the Malleus Maleficarum, and other works particularly those by Peter Binsfeld (1591), King James I (1597) were all used to confirm the reality of witchcraft, confirm fears and provide guidance for its effective prosecution.
    • 1630-1770: The Period of Decline:
      • Although the accusations and execution of witches didn't explicitly end in 1630, it did enter a new phase of decline.
        • Patterns: in the Dutch Republic, trials stopped shortly after 1600. In Spain, the Inquisition stopped executing witches after Basque of 1609-11. In Britain there was a steady decline after 1612, but the period of 1645-47 ended the period of decline.
          • It is hard to establish coherent lines of decline across Europe as short witch-panics interrupted these periods of decline. e.g. East Anglia of 1645-47 and Scotland in the 1660s.
      • Legal Changes
        • Many European countries discouraged the prosecution of witches, with the changes in legal statutes. In 1736, England repealed the Witchcraft Act and other European countries followed a similar path. Russia in 1779, France in 1682

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