Origins of the Witch Craze in Europe Research Paper

Topics: Modern history, Early modern period, Witchcraft Pages: 4 (1401 words) Published: May 10, 2013
Although the European witch craze has been embraced by mainstream culture it is distorted and shrouded in controversy especially when trying to trace its origins. The widespread witch craze in Europe is not a simplistic reaction as it is portrayed in the media but rather a build up of frustration at the political, social, and religious institutions throughout the continent. The idea of witchcraft in Europe, through a myriad of wars that fractioned society based upon belief, alongside support from the Catholic Church and misogynistic views surrounding the female body, caused a demon ideology to turn into a rampant and crazed fanaticism with evil that we understand as the witch craze today. During the early modern era, wars in Europe were becoming ideologically segregated. An influx of accessible rationalist information as well as, public intolerance towards the Catholic Church through Protestant beliefs were notable and began to create civil divides amongst a once highly regimented class system. A microcosm of growing rifts between people for ideological reasons is noteworthy during the English civil war, in which supporters of the parliament fought against King Charles I and his son King Charles II in a conflict that lasted almost a decade and led to social upheaval and monarchial replacement. “The collapse of religious and political consensus after 1640… England fragmented into parties, factions, and sects, so to did these groups attempt to appropriate for themselves the sole custodianship of traditional moral, religious, and political authority.” Across Europe religious divide drenched in warfare was becoming a norm thus the use of witchcraft was invoked in response to both understanding and ending the disorder. During the English civil war religious sects were baffled by the terror around them and tried to understand the combat through cosmic perspectives of duality and openly promoted the idea of evil, curses, and witchcraft. “…sides habitually resorted to...
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