• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why did the witch-craze happen in Early Modern Europe?

Extracts from this document...


Why did the witch-craze happen in Early Modern Europe? For three centuries between 1450 and 1750, diverse societies were consumed by a panic over alleged witches in their communities. Witch-hunts, especially in Central Europe, resulted in the trial, torture, and execution of tens of thousands of victims. Historians have carried out a huge amount of research into the reasons for this 'craze' and found that predominantly the witch hunts took place against a backdrop of rapid social, economic and religious transformation that inspired feelings of disunity, fear and uncertainty. These three factors interlink continuously within the explanation for the witch-craze, the factor that appears to dominate is that of social transformation lying especially within its intellectual foundations. By the end of the 16th Century, most educated Europeans believed that witches, in addition to practicing harmful magic engaged in a variety of diabolical activities 1. At the outset, the ideas surrounding the witch-craze were mainly the property of the literate and ruling classes and not of the common people, formulation of those ideas had been the work of theologians, philosophers and lawyers, and the men who subscribed to them were judges, clerics, magistrates and landlords 2. ...read more.


The major epidemics of syphilis in Europe coincided largely with the witch-craze during the 16th and 17th centuries; Stanislav Anreski claimed that the disease itself was largely responsible for the persecution of witches; he even suggested that syphilis, in its advanced form, could cause the physical characteristics of the witch image 10. This argument is supported by evidence showing that witch hunting coincided geographically as well as chronologically with the syphilis epidemics. The Black Death and the wars of the 15th Century killed more men than women. There were visibly more women than men. Such demographic transformations led to changes within the family structure creating many more unattached women, namely spinsters and widows who were not under the control of fathers of husbands 11. There is reason to believe that this single status contributed at least indirectly to their plight. In a patriarchal society, the existence of women who were subject to neither father nor husband was an increasing source of concern, if not fear and it is not unreasonable to assume that both the neighbours who accused such women and the authorities who prosecuted them were responding to such fears 12. ...read more.


Sharpe, J.A. Witchcraft in Early Modern England. (Harlow: Longman 2001) Waite, G.K. Heresy, Magic and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe (Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) ?? ?? ?? ?? Library Card: 04023308 1 Levack, B. The Witch-hunt in Early Modern Europe (London: Longman 1987), p.27 2 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.28 3 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.29 4 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe. p.31 5 Bossy, J. 'Moral Arithmetic: Seven Sins into Ten Commandments', in Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern Europe. (Cambridge, 1988), pp.229-231 6 Trevor-Roper, H.R. The European Witch Craze of the 16th and 17th Centuries (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), p.11 7 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.102 8 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.105 9 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.107 10 Quaife, G.R. Godly Zeal & Furious Rage (London: Croom & Helm 1987) p.16 11 Quaife, Godly Zeal & Furious Rage, p.15 12 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.147 13 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.61 14 Monter, E.W. European Witchcraft (New York: Wiley 1969), p.10 15 Ben-Yehuda, N. The European Witch-Craze of the 16th and 17th Centuries in 'Moral Panics' 114-184 (1994), p.11 16 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.64 17 Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p.65 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level European Union section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level European Union essays

  1. A clear explanation of key underpinning economic theories relevant to the EU.

    satisfaction and increase company loyalty but it will costs the business to do. D Many organisations in the EU would have been affected by the above rules and legislation's, but businesses can take advantage of the above as the social policy states that workers have the right to be trained

  2. Regulation 2560/2001 on cross-border payments in Europe.

    These will be discussed here1. Firstly, Mr. Arnold argues that the volume of low-value money transfers is very small. At least for Germany, 7 billion intra-country transactions are conducted per year versus 16 million cross-border transactions. SWIFT, a standard-setting company in the (international)

  1. Transformation of the U.S. Hegemony in Europe through NATO after the Cold War

    and then to underline the determination for a better cooperation among the European Union nations (solidarity). The modern efforts go back to 1940s. The creation of Western Union (WU) in 1948, the Pl�ven plan in 1950 and later the refusal of European Defense Community by the French parliament in

  2. The EU's CFSP and the Iraq Crisis: A Catalyst for Change?

    Structural Challenges for CFSP The development of the EU has been a very creative process. Over several decades the leaders and technocrats of the EU project found new ways to create institutionalized means for sharing power. In terms of the economic integration that has taken place, the European Union can be considered to be a unique supranational entity.

  1. Is Europe a Bargaining Forum?

    Keohane and Hoffmann (1991:15), for example, reject a strictly statist or intergovernmental model of the EC, because, as they see it, "supranationality" (defined as a process of decisionmaking that emphasizes compromises and a search for common interests rather than vetoing by the participants)

  2. An assessement of the impact of the lawyers' establishment directive.

    the Host State profession, with the ability to thereafter use the Host State's title of lawyer. First, the transient lawyer may become integrated under the methods heretofore specified in the Diplomas Directive. Alternatively, the transient lawyer may become integrated into the Host State's profession if the transient lawyer has "effectively

  1. United Nations: "In Bed With The Devil".

    and intervene against the Serbian atrocities being committed against ethnic Albanians in Kosova, and moral action only came from the leadership of the United States and Great Britain when they led NATO to take action against Serbia. A UN resolution only came about "after the fact" that the US and Great Britain held Serbia accountable for their actions.

  2. Discuss the suggestion that ''Britishness' is a story whose final chapter has been written.'

    (Chambers, 1993:160) This fluidity is best illustrated in the ways in which we imagine ourselves as a nation and how these processes are changing. Benedict Anderson has argued that any national identity is an imagined community because 'even the smallest nations will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them or even hear of them' (1983:5)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work