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Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe. What is a witch?. “A person who hath conference with the Devil to consult with him or to do some act” ~ Chief Justice Coke (England, 1620s). Origins. Ancient beliefs of witches Medieval superstitions Christian beliefs. Changing ideas on witchcraft.

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Presentation Transcript
what is a witch
What is a witch?
  • “A person who hath conference with the Devil to consult with him or to do some act” ~ Chief Justice Coke (England, 1620s)
origins
Origins
  • Ancient beliefs of witches
  • Medieval superstitions
  • Christian beliefs
changing ideas on witchcraft
Changing ideas on witchcraft
  • Women became increasingly identified with witchcraft and magic
    • Groups targeted:
  • More concern with power of the devil and his influence in daily life
  • Use of magic increasingly connected to demonology and thus heresy
the study of demonology
The Study of Demonology
  • From Greek “Daimon” meaning supernatural spirit unrelated to a god
  • From Christianity – fallen angel who is not part of heaven
  • Relationship between demonology and witchcraft is crucial
what could witches do
What could witches do?
  • Control the weather
  • Create love spells
  • Cause death
  • Create potions and ointments
witch hunts
Witch Hunts
  • What accounts for the growing persecution of witchcraft?
    • Reformation
      • Religious instability leads to persecution
      • Leaders prove piety through persecution
    • Socioeconomic
      • Inflation
      • War
      • Famine
    • Demographic
      • Late marriages and unmarried women leave many outside male control
    • Intellectual
      • More religious and lay leaders concerned with finding witches
      • Awareness of devil in everyday life
    • Legal
      • Prosecution is easier