Witchcraft During the Renaissance

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Accompanying and following the Renaissance “rebirth” during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries and supplementing the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, the persecution of individuals as witches in Europe reached its zenith during the sixteenth century. Countless people, women and men alike, were accused of witchcraft, although this scale was tipped significantly toward poor, old women whose husbands’ had low wage work. The notion of witchcraft appealed to and was possible at the time to the general public because such occurrences as “mysterious disappearances” or “Satanic luck” necessitated explanations. These events were thus attributed to “servants of the Devil,” or witches, who were supposedly possessed to bend to Satan’s will as stated my Luther. Luther’s bias was towards the bible because he was a religious leader; therefor he believed what it said, which was that witches existed. Many accused witches were tortured until they either admitted, like Walpurga Hausmannin, or were killed from torture. Hausmannin’s bias was towards women because she was one, and she was very skeptical towards all the women being killed. No one was safe, as even mayors councilors and associate judges were persecuted. The witch-hunting excitement of the period resulted from religious, individual, societal, and sociological fears and interests prevalent during the time frame.

First, highly influential religious individuals like Luther, Calvin, and the pope form a group of people who played a major role in promoting the belief of witchcraft among the people. Pope Innocent VIII, for example, willingly accepted the concept of witchcraft and even fully supported the persecution of witches. His bias was also towards the Bible. As a religious leader, the Pope wholeheartedly believed that individuals “give themselves over to devils” and, as a servant of God, was obliged to purge the world of them. The notable Protestant leaders Martin Luther and John Calvin shared this...
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