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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.

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Marking (dis)order

Witchcraft and the symbolics of hierarchy in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland

Raisa Maria Toivo

1 Beyond the witch trials Marking (dis)order Marking (dis)order: witchcraft and the symbolics of hierarchy in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland Raisa Maria Toivo What do witchcraft and witch trials tell us about power and social hierarchy? Witch trials have often enough been explained in terms of social relations and schisms, particularly in local contexts. In a highly competitive world, disagreements resulted from and caused both attacks by suspected witches and accusations made against them. It has often been noted that in Sweden and

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Brian Hoggard

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

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The Devil’s pact

A male strategy

Soili-Maria Olli

6 Beyond the witch trials The Devil’s pact The Devil’s pact: a male strategy Soili-Maria Olli 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 not only a major preoccupation of the educated classes, but also seems to have considerably exercised the minds of the wider population, illiterate as well as literate. It is apparent, however, that different groups in society held different views as to the nature and consequences of dealing with the Devil

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Marie Lennersand and Linda Oja

4 Beyond the witch trials Responses to witchcraft in Sweden Responses to witchcraft in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Sweden The aftermath of the witch-hunt in Dalarna Marie Lennersand The witch-hunts of the early modern period must have left a profound mark on many local communities. The intense trials and executions which took place during the second half of the seventeenth century were dreadful events that touched many people. All those involved, from the accused and the witnesses to the judges and the clergy, had to make decisions that changed

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Introduction

Beyond the witch trials

Owen Davies and Willem de Blécourt

Beyond the witch trials Introduction Introduction: beyond the witch trials Owen Davies and Willem de Blécourt The so-called Enlightenment of the eighteenth century has often been portrayed as a period in which much of Europe cast off the belief in witchcraft and magic under the influence of new philosophies, and advances in science and medicine. This received wisdom has often led to the academic dismissal of the continued relevance of the belief in witchcraft and magic, not only for the poor and illiterate in society but also for the educated. This book seeks

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Peter Maxwell-Stuart

5 Beyond the witch trials Witchcraft and magic in Scotland Witchcraft and magic in eighteenth-century Scotland Peter Maxwell-Stuart On 20 October 1711 Defoe published in the periodical Review his well-known and unambiguous opinion on the subject of witches: There are, and ever have been such People in the World, who converse Familiarly with the Devil, enter into Compact with him, and receive Power from him, both to hurt and deceive, and these have been in all Ages call’d Witches, and it is these, that our Law and God’s Law Condemn’s as such; and I think there

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‘Evil people’

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

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Public infidelity and private belief?

The discourse of spirits in Enlightenment Bristol

Jonathan Barry

7 Beyond the witch trials Public infidelity and private belief? Public infidelity and private belief ? The discourse of spirits in Enlightenment Bristol Jonathan Barry Recent work on the history of witchcraft and magic has identified three themes or approaches as of particular importance in our understanding of a subject which, although it has been centre stage since the publication of Religion and the Decline of Magic in 1971, has continued to trouble historians. The first problem, acknowledged as ‘the most baffling aspect of this difficult subject’ by Thomas

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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