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Witchcraft Continued

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.

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Witchcraft narratives in Germany

Rothenburg, 1561–1652

Series:

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.

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Owen Davies

6 Witchcraft continued Witchcraft accusations in France Witchcraft accusations in France, 1850–1990 Owen Davies The continued widespread belief in witchcraft and magic in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France has received considerable academic attention. Yet little of the relevant work has been published in English and, moreover, no thematic historical survey has yet been attempted to trace the continued social significance of witchcraft over the two centuries. As well as discussing the extent and nature of witchcraft accusations in the period, therefore

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Sabina Magliocco

8 Witchcraft continued Witchcraft, healing and vernacular magic in Italy Witchcraft, healing and vernacular magic in Italy Sabina Magliocco Field notes, 29 October 2001: Bessude, Sardinia. I am walking in the countryside outside this highland pastoral town of 500 inhabitants with Mario, a shepherd in his mid-forties, and his cousin Pina, whom I have known for approximately fifteen years. Mario is telling us how his grandfather taught him and his cousins, Tonino and Basiliu, to charm warts when they were working for him as terrakos (tenant-shepherds) in the

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Series:

Hans Peter Broedel

The Malleus Maleficarum is one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches. Written in 1487 by a Dominican inquisitor, Heinrich Institoris, following his failure to prosecute a number of women for witchcraft, it is in many ways a highly personal document, full of frustration at official complacency in the face of a spiritual threat, as well as being a practical guide for law-officers who have to deal with a cunning, dangerous enemy. Combining theological discussion, illustrative anecdotes and useful advice for those involved in suppressing witchcraft, the treatise's influence on witchcraft studies has been extensive. The only previous translation into English, that by Montague Summers in 1928, is full of inaccuracies. It is written in a style almost unreadable nowadays, and is unfortunately coloured by Institoris's personal agenda. This new edited translation, with an introductory essay setting witchcraft, Institoris and the Malleus into clear English, corrects Summers' mistakes and offers an unvarnished version of what Institoris actually wrote. It will undoubtedly become the standard translation of this controversial late medieval text.

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Stephen Mitchell

1 Witchcraft continued Witchcraft assault as ostensive action A case of witchcraft assault in early nineteenth-century England as ostensive action Stephen Mitchell In his provocatively entitled Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture, anthropologist Marvin Harris suggests a one-dimensional explanation for the witch-hunts of early modern Europe, an all-encompassing theory of class warfare manipulated by elite culture, in effect, ‘the magic bullet of society’s privileged and powerful classes’. Of course, the case for the marriage of anthropology

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Nils Freytag

2 Witchcraft continued The fight against ‘superstition’ in Germany Witchcraft, witch doctors and the fight against ‘superstition’ in nineteenth-century Germany Nils Freytag 1 The Most Esteemed Royal Government may commonly find these beliefs in witches and ghosts, in the devil and his supposed manifestations everywhere among the educated and the uneducated, in the province of Prussia and in all others of this state and all states. Even in most recent times, witch-hunts have occurred in the Regierungsbezirk [administrative sub-unit within a Prussian province

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Series:

Hans Peter Broedel

TMM5 8/30/03 5:40 PM Page 91 5 Witchcraft: the formation of belief – part one Ambrosius de Vignate was a well-respected magistrate and legal scholar, a doctor of both canon and civil law, who lectured at Padua, Bologna, and Turin between 1452 and 1468. On several occasions he participated in the trials of accused witches: he tells us that he had heard men and women alike confess – both freely and under torture – that they belonged to the sect of witches (“secta mascorum seu maleficorum”) and that they, and others whom they implicated, had done all sorts of

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Hans Peter Broedel

TMM6 8/30/03 5:37 PM Page 122 6 Witchcraft: the formation of belief – part two In the previous chapter we examined how motifs drawn from traditional beliefs about spectral night-traveling women informed the construction of learned witch categories in the late Middle Ages. Although the precise manner in which these motifs were utilized differed between authorities, two general mental habits set off fifteenth-century witch-theorists from earlier writers. First, they elided the distinctions between previously discrete sets of beliefs to create a substantially

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Hans Peter Broedel

TMM4 8/30/03 5:39 PM Page 66 4 Misfortune, witchcraft, and the will of God An obvious corollary to a belief in witches is the perception that certain kinds of recognizable injuries or misfortunes are due to witchcraft, and it is clear from the sources that many people in medieval Europe were, at times, prepared to accept certain kinds of misfortunes as the result of witchcraft or harmful magic.1 Not everyone, however, understood the relationship between magic and its effects in the same way. For unlettered peasants and townsfolk – for everyone, in fact, but