This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the experience of and attitudes towards witchcraft from both above and below, in an age when the beliefs and 'worldview' of the 'elite' and the 'people' are often thought to have irrevocably pulled away from one another. It suggests that in Sweden and the Netherlands, as in England, the ecclesiastical courts had given up on dealing with popular magic by the early eighteenth century. The book highlights the significant role the Italian Inquisition continued to play in policing 'superstition' during the period. It describes that the parish minister was instrumental in bringing charges against her for practising magic. The book shows that Benito Feijoo's unmasking of the fraud and delusion involved did not lead him to reject completely that some people, albeit a very small number, were truly possessed.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book makes the male witch visible, to construct him as a historical subject, as a first step toward a deeper understanding of the functions and role of gender in pre-modern European witch-hunting and ideas about witches. The Malleus maleficarum, or Hammer of Witches, is the best-known early modern work on witchcraft, infamous for its misogynist statements about women and for its argument that most witches were women. The primary affinity between male and female individuals with witchcraft was related to their status as 'fools'. The existence of male witches, and particularly their presence in demonological treatises, raises many questions. The overtly political dimension to the study of witches in early modern Europe demands a high level of consciousness and reflexivity regarding language, representation, and meaning.
Enlightenment is a broad phenomenon, and it is now increasingly recognised that it was as diverse in its protagonists as it was geographically and chronologically disparate. This chapter reveals that, outside of traditional Enlightenment studies, there also exists strong support for the Enlightenment-modernity thesis in the form of the so-called post modernity theory. Modernity gave way to post modernity in the early 1970s. Postmodernists have repeatedly asserted that the secularising, reason-orientated Enlightenment is the one and only origin of modernity. It is true that postmodernism has been responsible for a renewed interest in the philosophy of history, mostly because it asserts that the past is irretrievably gone, and that self-interested attempts at reconstructing it are, by their nature, consequently doomed to failure. This study represents an attempt to review some of the causes and contexts of religious change in Enlightenment Italy, France and England.
The ‘defending democracy’ in Israel – a framework of analysis
This book provides an academic discussion and analysis of the response of Israeli democracy to the various challenges facing it. It places the issue at the political-institutional frame, as well as the social frame of analysis, at centre stage. The combination of these two latter frameworks carries the potential for a better understanding of whether the ‘golden path’ does in fact exist—whether there is a course enabling democratic systems of government to protect effectively themselves without crossing the legal and ethical boundaries on which they are founded. This chapter introduces the concept of ‘defending democracy’; the Israeli politics; the book's themes; and data sources and methodology.
This chapter reveals the extent to which the category ‘witch’ was contested in late fifteenth-century Germany. In Helena Scheuberin's trial, all the learned men believed in witchcraft. Up to a point, Bishop Golser and his representatives had supported the inquisitor with no real enthusiasm; they certainly had not interfered with his investigation. Nor did they object to prosecuting those who caused injuries through magic. They and the inquisitor simply disagreed about how a witch should be recognised, and, on a more fundamental level, about what a witch actually was. This was not simply an isolated confrontation between inquisitorial and local authorities, but rather a reflection of a much more widespread debate within the learned, ecclesiastical community over these same issues. Therefore, the problem of the construction of witchcraft in fifteenth-century Europe is examined, with particular reference to the text, the ‘Hammer of Witches’ or the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, one of the best-known, most quoted and, indeed, most infamous of all medieval texts brought into existence because of the insults of an otherwise obscure woman, Helena Scheuberin.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book argues that the end of witchcraft may set in when the witchcraft story was replaced by a rational one. It shows that witches were scratched in England, swum in Germany, beaten in the Netherlands and shot in France. The book stresses the replacement of witchcraft by non-witchcraft stories and considers different interpretations of a witchcraft event as competitive. It discusses that in the Netherlands orthodox Protestants reacted more violently to bewitchments than orthodox Catholics. The book typically focuses on French mentalité paysan. It aims to see witchcraft within the context of 'vernacular religion' and to study its 'entire range'. The book provides a very special example of making stories into physical reality in the case of Northern Ireland, where 'evidence' of black magic rituals was fabricated.
This chapter focuses on the trials involving allegations and confessions of maleficent or demonic witchcraft that took place in the German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber between c.1561 and c.1652. Rothenburg had a restrained pattern of witch-hunting during this period, with relatively few trials (even fewer of which ended in guilty verdicts against alleged witches); no mass-panics involving large numbers of accused witches; and the execution of only one alleged witch. The reasons for this phenomenon are analyzed. Detailed readings of the exceptionally rich records from the Rothenburg witch trials are provided to explore the social and psychic tensions that lay behind the making of witchcraft accusations and confessions, the popular and elite reactions to these accusations and confessions, and the ways in which participants in witch-trials pursued strategies, expressed emotions and negotiated conflicts through what they said about witchcraft. The witch-trials are contextualized, using a range of other sources in order to establish the life histories of trial-participants, the immediate circumstances of particular trials, and the broader social and cultural context of the beliefs and conflicts expressed and negotiated within them. The different ways—desperate, measured, artful, enthusiastic, unwilling—in which accusers and witnesses shaped their stories of witchcraft and participated in trial-processes to the advantage or disadvantage of the accused witch tell a great deal about their reasons for so doing and about their pre-trial relationship with the accused witch, as well as about the narrative-telling strategies available to them and their awareness of the risks that they ran in speaking openly about witchcraft.
The exclusion of male witches from witchcraft historiography is the result of active processes and assumptions. More commonly, especially in surveys, male witches are mentioned once or twice and then forgotten, and witches are referred to subsequently as if they were exclusively female. E. William Monter provides a wealth of data about male witches, beginning with the fact that in this 'unremarkable province' close to 'the heart of northern and western Europe', men comprised the majority of those tried and executed for witchcraft. Monter's study of Normandy is exciting because it offers concrete evidence that early modern beliefs about witches were not necessarily sex-specific. Stuart Clark's interpretation of demonological views of gender and witchcraft offers the most striking instance of the invisibility of male witches. Demonological literature is a major source for the assumption that witch-hunting was primarily about persecuting women.
This chapter focuses on the historical campaign undertaken by the State of Israel against extremist parties, beginning with the ‘Socialist List’ in 1965 and concluding with the Yemin Yisrael (‘Israel's Right’) party in 1996. It discusses Rabbi Meir Kahane's party Kach, whose ideology, proposed patterns of action and leader's rhetoric have played a key role in shaping the normative legal defensive measures devised by the Israeli democracy. The chapter aims to trace the changes in measures taken by Israel in its struggle with extremist parties and to indicate the gradual transition from a ‘militant’ to an ‘immunized’ model of response.
This chapter focuses on civics education. By means of a historical and textual analysis of school curricula on the subject of civic studies in the State of Israel in the first decades of its existence, it tries to demonstrate that the State did not attempt to reinforce its democratic character but in fact took steps to weaken it. The education system of the newly born State set about the task of nation-building, to a great extent by means of underscoring particularistic nationalist qualities while banishing universalistic liberalist strains to the margins of the education curricula. In this fashion, the country inculcated among its future citizens dominant nationalist attitudes, which in many cases digressed into nationalist ethnocentrism. The chapter also looks on the State's response to the incidental ultra-nationalist repercussions of this policy.