Medieval Witchcraft.

Essay by alias33 January 2006

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Withcraft during the late medieval time period was characterized by religious intolerance and mass hysteria. Undoubtedly, there were more persecutions during the reign of Queen Mary, and the Spanish Inquisitions. But at this time the word "witch" was starting to emerge. And just about anyone different or strange in the slightest way may be suspected of being in a league with the devil. Both men and women were accused of witchcraft, but the majority persecuted were women. Furthermore, estimates indicate that, in the period of greatest persecution (1500-1700) the overwhelming majority of executed victims were female (82%). The inquisitors or witch-hunters used the Malleus Maleficarum, written in 1486 to aid them in the identification, prosecution, and dispatching of Witches. It set forth, as well, many of the modern misconceptions and fears concerning witches and the influence of witchcraft.

After the accusation, or suspection of a witch, a procedure would be followed from the Malleus Maleficarum to detect and punish the witch.

Whom was always found guilty, confession or otherwise.

"The method of beginning an examination by torture is as follows: First, the jailers prepare the implements of torture, then they strip the prisoner (if it be a woman, she has already been stripped by other women, upright and of good report). This stripping is lest some means of witchcraft may have been sewed into the clothing-such as often, taught by the Devil, they prepare from the bodies of unbaptized infants, [murdered] that they may forfeit salvation. And when the implements of torture have been prepared, the judge, both in person and through other good men zealous in the faith, tries to persuade the prisoner to confess the truth freely; but, if he will not confess, he bid attendants make the prisoner fast to the strappado or some other implement of...