Summary of Napoleon's Buttons Chapter 12: Molecules of Witchcraft

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Ergot, Ergoline, Witchcraft
  • Pages : 6 (1824 words )
  • Download(s) : 1778
  • Published : March 24, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Introduction
Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, many people died by cruel and horrible deaths of buring at the stake, hanging, or being tortured. The estimates of people killed ranged up to the millions which included men, women, children, and even aristocrats as they were accused of witchcraft. Although, poor and elderly women were the ones effected the most from multitudes of paranoia and delusions in those centuries. However, certain molecules played a role in this discrimination that ultimately led millions to their demise.

Toil and Trouble
Witchcraft, prior to 1350, was regarded as sorcery where one controls nature in their own interest by protecting crops or people and casting spells to influence or provide. It was accepted in Europe and it was only a crime if sorcery was used to harm. Indolent accusations were avoided because people victims of maleficium were able to seek help from a witch and only become liable for penalty if they were unable to prove their case. In all, witchcraft was just part of folklore. A new attitude emerged around the fourteenth century when Christianity was opposed to magic. It only allowed magic sanctioned by the church and not the ones conducted outside since they believed that witches were in league with the devil. The crime of practicing sorcery became so terrible in the eyes of people that by the mid-fifteenth century, there were no more trials for the witches, but accusations were enough evidence to kill. The deeds that people regarded with witches transgressed rationality, but they were still fervently believed. A large percentage of women were accused as witches since it was believed that whenever disaster stuck, people would exclaimed that women have been working together with demons at a witches' gathering. The killings definitely too its toll on both Catholic and Protestant countries as the height of the witch-hunt paranoia left no women in Swiss villages, some regions in Germany had its village population burned. In England and Holland, the accused had to undergo the water test that had them thrown into a pond and if they floated, they were a true which. If they were innocent, it was a comfort to their families, but they still drowned. As the witch-hunt terror gradually faded, the economy was threatened since so many people were accused and killed. When the Age of Enlightenment came, people opposed the madness and the witch-hunts ceased. So, by the eighteenth century, executions for practicing witchcraft came to a halt for the Church and state, but the public weren't ready to give up on the fear of witchcraft that built over the centuries. Although many of the women killed were herbalists who were skilled in using local plants to cure diseases and provide pain relief. They were often relied upon for spells or removal of hexes since some of their herbs had healing powers that would seem magical. Although, using the herbal medicine and prescribing them were dangerous because different parts of the plant contain ranging levels of effective compounds, like how plants from different locations can vary in their ability to cure or the different times of year they're harvested would change how much does they contain. Many plants were beneficial, but there were ones that can have poison depending on their molecules. So, the molecules in these plants may yet brand a herbalist as a witch.

Healing Herbs, Harmful Herbs
Many plants contain were used to relieve pain and prevent illnesses, like the salicylic acid in willow trees were used for aspirin or how the root of the celery were used to prevent muscle cramps. Also, Digitalis was an extract from the common foxglove and its molecules helped in reducing the heart rate and regularize heart rhythm. It strengthens the heartbeat too. The digoxin molecule helps with cardiac glycoside or the heart. For example, in 1795, a British physician named William Withering used the foxglove extracts for treating congestive...
tracking img