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Elite beliefs about witchcraft and magic
Alison Rowlands

2 The devil’s power to delude: elite beliefs about witchcraft and magic The Rothenburg elites have left us few personal testimonies of their beliefs about witchcraft and magic during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. No record of council meetings was kept in Rothenburg until 1664, when popular pressure for greater openness forced the councillors to lift the shroud of secrecy from their gatherings. However, even after 1664 the meeting minutes recorded only the decisions made by the council and not the deliberations by which they were reached. The often

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
Hans Peter Broedel

not be the immediate cause of magical harm, both because a demon actually effected the injury, and because the witch had no power to compel the demon to do her bidding, the extent to which witches were actually culpable for the injuries inflicted by demons in their name was questionable. The matter was further complicated by the fact that demons could act only with the permission of God. Hence, if demons acted merely in accordance with divine will, why should either the witch or the demon be blamed for the outcome? And why, too, should God have chosen to give the

in The <i>Malleus Maleficarum</i> and the construction of witchcraft
Open Access (free)
Alison Forrestal

jurisdictional liberty and dignity. They fought a running battle throughout the century to ensure that these principles would be safeguarded for posterity. Ultimately, however, the episcopate was unable to halt the persistent squeeze that the guardians of the monarchical state placed on its model of episcopal power. The episcopate’s struggle was made all the more difficult because of the pervasive grasp of political gallicanism on many of the guardians of the realm’s public interests. Over the course of the seventeenth century, its central tenets gained increasing credence

in Fathers, pastors and kings
Open Access (free)
Hans Peter Broedel

reconcile the apparent ubiquity of demonic power with a transcendent principle of evil, some clerics began to insist upon the necessity for human mediation of the diabolic side of the supernatural. Such a striking dislocation of diabolic agency from the being of the devil stands in stark contrast to the thinking of earlier ages, and requires some explanation. The basic Christian devil of the Fathers had been a relatively coherent, consistent figure, who competently played out his well-defined role in God’s creation. This is not to say that the conception of the devil had

in The <i>Malleus Maleficarum</i> and the construction of witchcraft
Open Access (free)
French clerical reformers and episcopal status
Alison Forrestal

to continue his salvific work.15 Priests acted, therefore, ‘like instruments in his hands’.16 They were particularly close to Christ because they acted as his visible representatives on earth, illuminating those below them in the ecclesiastical hierarchy and drawing them closer to union with God. They held ‘a power so elevated’ that even the angels in their state of glory were not worthy of it.17 The supreme dignity of priesthood, however, brought weighty obligations to those who were called to it. The priest’s unique position required that he dedicate himself

in Fathers, pastors and kings
Hans Peter Broedel

power, but they used their reputations as sorceresses and their knowledge of popular superstitions to work extensive evil. They were, in his words, “the enemies of Christ, ministers of the devil, and the foes of chastity.”18 Although greatly exaggerated and distorted, such tales offer a legitimate representation of the world as medieval preachers saw it. The use of various TMM7 8/30/03 5:37 PM Page 171 WITCHCRAFT AS EXPRESSION OF FEMALE SEXUALITY 171 stereotypical characters in exempla was intended to denounce real and not imaginary sins, and if they were not

in The <i>Malleus Maleficarum</i> and the construction of witchcraft
mid-Victorian stories and beliefs
Susan Hoyle

seventeenth century preceded the rise of empirical science and of modern technology. 10 I am suggesting that the decline of such beliefs amongst the scarcely-educated two hundred years later was similar, in that popular belief and interest in the power of forensic science seems to have been ahead of its actual development. The fascination with forensic evidence seems to have been due more to the lure of its associated narrative

in Witchcraft Continued
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.

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

patriachal elite’, whose statements and confessions were simply forced rehashings of that elite’s demonology.1 On the contrary – and despite the fact that power over the trial process lay ultimately with the council – alleged witches were capable of contributing to and of shaping the course of interrogations in idiosyncratic ways. At the same time, however, the trial of Margaretha shows that it was becoming increasingly problematic for women accused of witchcraft in early modern Rothenburg to articulate defiance against their accusers and the council without this defiance

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
The Catholic challenge during the Thirty Years’ War
Alison Rowlands

and, when she sat in it herself, to say aloud that ‘as this chair was given to me by my dear mother, so I am her dear daughter’. Margaretha had taken the chair with her to the Siechen Mill, where the miller had ordered it to be put away in the attic. The miller and Hörber feared the chair, regarding it as bewitched or as capable of bewitching and either way as a symbol of the hold that the midwife still had over Margaretha. Hörber fetched the chair from the attic and burned it in order to destroy the midwife’s power and the onlookers’ worst fears of the chair

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany