Feijoo versus the ‘falsely possessed’ in eighteenth-century Spain
María Tausiet

3 Beyond the witch trials From illusion to disenchantment From illusion to disenchantment: Feijoo versus the ‘falsely possessed’ in eighteenth-century Spain 1 María Tausiet I conclude from the findings that there were no witches nor bedevilled people in those places until they began to write about them. (Alonso de Salazar y Frías) 2 I prove the matter through the constant experience that on very rare occasions does there appear to be any possessed person in places where no one starts exorcizing. (Benito Jerónimo Feijoo) 3 Among the many attacks that the

in Beyond the witch trials
Open Access (free)
A late eighteenth-century Dutch witch doctor and his clients
Willem de Blécourt

8 Beyond the witch trials ‘Evil people’ ‘Evil people’: a late eighteenth-century Dutch witch doctor and his clients Willem de Blécourt As a part of the increasing interest in ‘popular’ culture, historians have become more conscious of the presence of witchcraft after the witch trials. Most of the time their attention, however, is restricted to simply indicating witchcraft occurrences. For newcomers in the field a methodological trap also looms. The name of that trap is ‘superstition’ and its character is an often undeclared but determining element in the

in Beyond the witch trials
Rothenburg, 1561–1652
Author: Alison Rowlands

Given the widespread belief in witchcraft and the existence of laws against such practices, why did witch-trials fail to gain momentum and escalate into ‘witch-crazes’ in certain parts of early modern Europe? This book answers this question by examining the rich legal records of the German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a city that experienced a very restrained pattern of witch-trials and just one execution for witchcraft between 1561 and 1652. The book explores the factors that explain the absence of a ‘witch-craze’ in Rothenburg, placing particular emphasis on the interaction of elite and popular priorities in the pursuit (and non-pursuit) of alleged witches at law. By making the witchcraft narratives told by the peasants and townspeople of Rothenburg central to its analysis, the book also explores the social and psychological conflicts that lay behind the making of accusations and confessions of witchcraft. Furthermore, it challenges the existing explanations for the gender-bias of witch-trials, and also offers insights into other areas of early modern life, such as experiences of and beliefs about communal conflict, magic, motherhood, childhood and illness. Written in a narrative style, the study invites a wide readership to share in the drama of early modern witch trials.

Open Access (free)
Alison Rowlands

Conclusion In Rothenburg and its hinterland four factors interacted to ensure that the area experienced a restrained pattern of witch-trials and only three executions for witchcraft throughout the early modern period. The first was a willingness on the part of the councillors and their judicial advisers to treat and punish a significant proportion of the witchcraft allegations with which they were confronted as slanders.1 This happened most often during the second half of the sixteenth and early part of the seventeenth century, but was still possible in later

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
Open Access (free)
Alison Rowlands

readings of the exceptionally rich records from the Rothenburg witchtrials 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. These aims are important for various reasons. In 1996, Robin Briggs suggested that what was surprising about the early modern period was not how many people were

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
Nils Freytag

witchcraft beliefs after the end of the witch trials is still in its infancy among German historians. Recently, there have been some innovative impulses in researching the persistence or re-emergence of magic in the nineteenth century. Here, so-called superstitious practices and beliefs are placed within their social and cultural context and analysed according to modern patterns of interpretation. 3 However

in Witchcraft Continued
Open Access (free)
Popular magic in modern Europe

The study of witchcraft accusations in Europe during the period after the end of the witch trials is still in its infancy. Witches were scratched in England, swum in Germany, beaten in the Netherlands and shot in France. The continued widespread belief in witchcraft and magic in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France has received considerable academic attention. The book discusses the extent and nature of witchcraft accusations in the period and provides a general survey of the published work on the subject for an English audience. It explores the presence of magical elements in everyday life during the modern period in Spain. The book provides a general overview of vernacular magical beliefs and practices in Italy from the time of unification to the present, with particular attention to how these traditions have been studied. By functioning as mechanisms of social ethos and control, narratives of magical harm were assured a place at the very heart of rural Finnish social dynamics into the twentieth century. The book draws upon over 300 narratives recorded in rural Finland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that provide information concerning the social relations, tensions and strategies that framed sorcery and the counter-magic employed against it. It is concerned with a special form of witchcraft that is practised only amongst Hungarians living in Transylvania.

The idioms and risks of defiance in the trial of Margaretha Horn, 1652
Alison Rowlands

6 ‘God will punish both poor and rich’: the idioms and risks of defiance in the trial of Margaretha Horn, 1652 While it is possible to attribute the restrained pattern of witch-hunting in early modern Rothenburg to the interaction of the beliefs and the legal and social priorities of both the councillors and their subjects, we must not forget another factor that was vital in ensuring that most of the Rothenburg witch-trials were unlikely either to end in verdicts of guilt or to spiral out of control into chainreaction type ‘witch-panics’. This was the courage of

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
Open Access (free)
witchcraft continued
Willem de Blécourt and Owen Davies

The study of witchcraft accusations in Europe during the period after the end of the witch trials is still in its infancy. The present volume, together with its companion Beyond the witch trials , intends to develop the field further by presenting a plethora of studies from across Europe and, most importantly, to inspire new research. Whereas Beyond the witch trials focused on the period of the

in Witchcraft Continued
Gender and contemporary fantasies of witchcraft
Alison Rowlands

witchcraft.3 Most were married at the time of involvement in a trial: the remainder were predominantly widows.4 Why were adult women most likely to become caught up in witch-trials in early modern Rothenburg? Was it because they were most readily imagined as witches by their neighbours and accused accordingly? Or was the gender-bias more marked at the elite level, ensuring that any men who were accused as witches were less likely to face formal prosecution? This chapter explores answers to these questions through analysis of a series of seventeenth-century cases and in the

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany