9 Beyond the witch trials Counter-witchcraft and popular magic The archaeology of counter-witchcraft and popular magic Brian Hoggard 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. Objects such as witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, shoes, written charms and numerous other items have been discovered concealed inside houses in significant quantities from the early modern period until well into the twentieth century. The locations
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.
Popular magic in modern Europe
Edited by: 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. 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.
Beyond the witch trials
Owen Davies and Willem de Blécourt
decades of intermittent prosecution before decriminalisation, the debates that followed in the decade or so after, and to recognise the continued enactment of popular justice against suspected witches.1 Several collections of essays with an early modern focus have conscientiously included contributions concerning the continued belief in witchcraft and magic.2 Ronald Hutton, an eminent historian of early modern England has, in recent publications concerning paganism, contemporary witchcraft and shamanism, shown how skilled historians can apply their craft and range of
present. The witches that appear in Elizabethan theatre are distanced from those represented in the purportedly factual texts of demonologists and pamphleteers, ensuring that it would have been possible for contemporary audiences to interpret stage witchcraft as fictional, and unrelated to the type of witchcraft they encountered outside the theatre. In consequence, both belief in and scepticism about the phenomenon of witchcraft remain, for the most part, submerged. Nonetheless, latent scepticism about witchcraft – magic carried out by women – can be seen to have shaped
numinous. Of course, any attempt to convey an overview of not only vernacular practices, but also the ways in which they have been studied, is bound to be limited in scope, especially in a brief article. Italian folklore scholarship spans over one hundred years and twenty separate regions; this overview cannot pretend to be comprehensive. However, for English readers interested in Italian folk magic and popular religion, I hope I
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 gendering of witchcraft
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow
rewarding; however, probing more deeply into the conceptual associations at work in early modern demonology uncovers a complex web that reflects not only ideas about witches but also how learned European men constructed gender. Gender and witchcraft: popular knowledge In times and in places where the ‘elaborated concept’ was not the dominant understanding of witchcraft and magic as necessarily a result of a
Sabine Doering-Manteuffel and Stephan Bachter
market for mass-produced literature on magic and the occult had been established, and in the following century this 188 Beyond the witch trials literature attracted popular attention and notoriety in a number of European countries.4 One can see this period as giving birth to a new culture of popular magic. It was not an oral culture but a literary culture that fostered it; not the simple peasant but the publisher, the printer and the reader who cradled it; not the rural but the urban population which initially absorbed it.5 This literary occultism was a thoroughly
Suspicions of witchcraft in Finland did not die out with the witch trials. 1 Traditional forms of magic and sorcery 2 continued to be not only suspected, but also practised in the Finnish countryside some two hundred years after the last witchcraft prosecutions in Finland, if we are to believe dozens of eyewitness accounts from farmers and labourers in the early twentieth century. 3 Although