The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe - How it came about, progressed, and ended.

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The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe

During the 13th century, the increasing association of ideas about heresy with ideas about sorcery lead to the development of the concept of witchcraft being devil worship, which paved the way for the witch-hunt in Europe (Monter viii). In 1487, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, who were serving as inquisitors for Pope Innocent VIII, published the Malleus Maleficarum or "Hammer of Witches". The Malleus had three sections; the first declared that it is heretical not to believe in witchcraft, the second dealt with details of common witch "activities" and how to identify them, and the third had to do with the prosecution of witches. This book became the "encyclopedia" on witchcraft creating many myths and fears concerning witches and their power (Kors and Peters 176-177). Hence, during "the 15th century, witchcraft as diabolical sorcery had been fully assimilated to heresy...

and witches had become the collaborative servants of Satan" (Kors and Peters 152)

Witch-hunts were prominent throughout most of Europe and it possible that "as many as 75 percent took place within the Holy Roman Empire, France, and Switzerland" (Levack ix). The "witch-craze" was most deadly in and around "the German-speaking lands" (Barstow 58-59). The witch-hunts were not as prevalent in areas outside of Europe such as "the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Russia, Hungary, the Mediterranean lands, and the Balkans" (Barstow 75). The persecution flourished as a result of the fear that people had for them which was based on the belief that the Satan gave the witches the "power to cast evil spells" (Monter v, viii ).

Many witch-trials were motivated by disputes between neighbors resulting in the pursuit of "revenge", bad weather, "demonic possession", unrelenting sickness, and the death of people or animals. In general, it seems that nearly any...