The witch trials of the 16th and 17th centuries are, by far, the reason for many of the stereotypes of witchcraft. The belief in witch cults was rife throughout the educated classes of Christendom, and when combined with the desperate anger of starving peasants and townsfolk these beliefs spread fire and destruction on an unprecedented scale. This is the Century of Fire, when innumerable men, women, and children were burnt at the stake, bishops celebrated their newly-enforced orthodoxy, and executioners profited.
This episode will explain the background of these events, and covers what I have found to be the most convincing explanations for why these trials happened.
This episode primarily made use of the following texts, among others:
Constitutio Criminalis Carolina (1530)
Del Rio, Martin, Disquisitiones Magicae, (1599)
Weyer, Johann, De Praestigiis Daemonum (1563)
Spee, Friedrich, Cautio Criminalis (1531)
Remy, Nicholas, Demonolatry (1595)
Oldridge, Darren, (ed.) The Witchcraft Reader, London, 2002
Midelfort, H. C. Erik, Witch Hunting in South-Western Germany, 1972
Barry, Jonathan and Davies, Owen, Palgrave Advances in Witchcraft Historiography, 2007
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