Open Access (free)

Beyond the witch trials

Witchcraft and magic in Enlightenment Europe

Edited by: Owen Davies and Willem de Blécourt

This book looks at aspects of the continuation of witchcraft and magic in Europe from the last of the secular and ecclesiastical trials during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, through to the nineteenth century. It provides a brief outline of witch trials in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland. By the second half of the seventeenth century, as the witch trials reached their climax in Sweden, belief in the interventionist powers of the Devil had become a major preoccupation of the educated classes. Having acknowledged the slight possibility of real possession by the Devil, Benito Feijoo threw himself wholeheartedly into his real objective: to expose the falseness of the majority of the possessed. The book is concerned with accusations of magic, which were formalised as denunciations heard by the Inquisition of the Archdiocese of Capua, a city twelve miles north of Naples, during the first half of the eighteenth century. One aspect of the study of witchcraft and magic, which has not yet been absorbed into the main stream of literature on the subject, is the archaeological record of the subject. As a part of the increasing interest in 'popular' culture, historians have become more conscious of the presence of witchcraft after the witch trials. The aftermath of the major witch trials in Dalarna, Sweden, demonstrates how the authorities began the awkward process of divorcing themselves from popular concerns and beliefs regarding witchcraft.

Open Access (free)

From illusion to disenchantment

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

Open Access (free)

Introduction

Beyond the witch trials

Owen Davies and Willem de Blécourt

eighteenth century, Dutch authorities were as much concerned with the threat to ‘ties of good harmony between neighbours’ caused by witch doctors as with questions of medical impropriety and immorality. Likewise in early eighteenth-century Spain the attack on exorcists by the Benedictine monk Benito Feijoo was primarily concerned with their threat to social rather than theological order. It is also clear with regard to witchcraft and magic that the balance between secular and religious criminal jurisdiction was highly variable across Europe. While Oja and de Blécourt