Witchcraft and Witch Hunts

Topics: Middle Ages, Witchcraft, Catholic Church Pages: 4 (1380 words) Published: April 2, 2011
Witchcraft and Witch Hunts

During the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe, many were accused of witch hunting and were typically burned to death. This catastrophic phenomenon began when society started to believe that certain individuals had a relationship with satin and engaged in practices considered to be barbaric and heinous. These trials occurred in ecclesiastical and secular courts by both Catholics and Protestants. Europe needed someone to blame their problems on; single women and poor widows were the primary victims of these trials. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Catholic Church reformed and temperatures were decreasing causing a shortage in food. With such conditions, witch hunts can be said to be a modern response to the changing economic conditions that played on old beliefs.

Witch hunting came in two forms: the first was a form of natural magic, alchemy and the second demonic type of magic came in two forms, maleficia and diabolism. Alchemy was usually practiced by educated men and did not have anything to do with the devil. Alchemy frequently meant turning base metals into fake gold. This natural magic was seen as to achieve good and to create medicine. Demonic magic meant calling upon an evil spirit to gain access to power. This evil magic came in two forms, causing harm to others, maleficia and worshiping satin, diabolism. If thought that someone was doing either of these types of magic they were categorized as a witch. When things would go wrong, witches were blamed and generally put to death.

From the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, the average daily temperature had decreased. The colder temperatures increased the frequency of crop failures and icy waters prevented fish from migrating, eliminating a vital food source. “Looking for a scapegoat, “witches” became a target because of their practices of maleficia. What made demonic magic maleficia was the belief that the witch was trying to do...
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