Witch trials in the early modern period
Prosecutions for the crime of witchcraft reached a highpoint from 1580 to 1630 during the Counter-Reformation and the European wars of religion, when an estimated 50,000 people were burned at the stake, of whom roughly 80% were women, and most often over the age of 40.
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Throughout the medieval era, mainstream Christian doctrine had denied the existence of witches and witchcraft, condemning it as pagan superstition. Some have argued that the work of the Dominican Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century helped lay the groundwork for a shift in Christian doctrine, by which certain Christian theologians eventually began to accept the possibility of collaboration with devil(s), resulting in a person obtaining certain real supernatural powers.
A branch of the inquisition in southern France
In 1233, a papal bull by Gregory IX established a new branch of the inquisition in Toulouse, France, to be led by the Dominicans. It was intended to prosecute Christian groups considered heretical, such as the Cathars and the Waldensians. The Dominicans eventually evolved into the most zealous prosecutors of persons accused of witchcraft in the years leading up to the Reformation.
Records were usually kept by the French inquisitors but the majority of these did not survive, and one historian working in 1880, Charles Molinier, refers to the surviving records as only scanty debris. Molinier notes that the inquisitors themselves describe their attempts to carefully safeguard their records, especially when moving from town to town. The inquisitors were widely hated and would be ambushed on the road, but their records were more often the target than the inquisitors themselves [plus désireux encore de ravir les papiers que porte le juge que de le faire périr lui-même] (better to take the papers the judge carries than to make the judge himself perish). The records seem to have often been targeted by the accused or their friends and family, wishing to thereby sabotage the proceedings or failing that, to spare their reputations and the reputations of their descendants. This would be all the more true of those accused of witchcraft. Difficulty in understanding the larger witchcraft trials to come in later centuries is deciding how much can be extrapolated from what remains.
In 1329, with the papacy in nearby Avignon, the inquisitor of Carcassonne sentenced a monk to the dungeon for life and the sentence refers to... multas et diversas daemonum conjurationes et invocationes... and frequently uses the same Latin synonym for witch, sortilegia—found on the title page of Nicolas Rémy's work from 1595, where it is claimed that 900 persons were executed for sortilegii crimen.
15th century trials and the growth of the new heterodox view
The skeptical Canon Episcopi retained many supporters, and still seems to have been supported by the theological faculty at the University of Paris in their decree from 1398, and was never officially repudiated by a majority of bishops within the papal lands, nor even by the Council of Trent, which immediately preceded the peak of the trials. But in 1428, the Valais witch trials, lasting six to eight years, started in the French-speaking lower Valais and eventually spread to German-speaking regions. This time period also coincided with the Council of Basel (1431–1437) and some scholars have suggested a new witch-phobic doctrinal view may have spread among certain theologians and inquisitors in attendance at this council, as the Valais trials were discussed. Not long after, a cluster of powerful opponents of the Canon Episcopi emerged: a Dominican inquisitor in Carcassonne named Jean Vinet, the Bishop of Avila Alfonso Tostado, and another Dominican Inquisitor named Nicholas Jacquier. It is unclear whether the three men were aware of each other's work. The coevolution of their shared view centres around "a common challenge: disbelief in the reality of demonic activity in the world."
Nicholas Jacquier's lengthy and complex argument against the Canon Episcopi was written in Latin. It began as a tract in 1452 and was expanded into a fuller monograph in 1458. Many copies seem to have been made by hand (nine manuscript copies still exist), but it was not printed until 1561. Jacquier describes a number of trials he personally witnessed, including one of a man named Guillaume Edelin, against whom the main charge seems to have been that he had preached a sermon in support of the Canon Episcopi—claiming that witchcraft was merely an illusion. Adeline eventually recanted this view, most likely under torture.
1486: Malleus Maleficarum
The most important and influential book promoting the new heterodox view was the Malleus Maleficarum by Heinrich Kramer. Kramer begins his work in opposition to the Canon Episcopi, but oddly, he does not cite Jacquier, and may not have been aware of his work. Like most witch-phobic writers, Kramer had met strong resistance by those who opposed his heterodox view; this inspired him to write his work as both propaganda and a manual for like-minded zealots. The Gutenberg printing press had only recently been invented along the Rhine River, and Kramer fully utilized it to shepherd his work into print and spread the ideas that had developed by inquisitors and theologians in France into the Rhineland. The theological views espoused by Kramer were influential but remained contested, and an early edition of the book even appeared on a list of those banned by the Church in 1490. Nonetheless Malleus Maleficarum was printed 13 times between 1486 and 1520, and — following a 50-year pause that coincided with the height of the Protestant reformations — it was printed again another 16 times (1574–1669) in the decades following the important Council of Trent which had remained silent with regard to Kramer's theological views. It inspired many similar works, such as an influential work by Jean Bodin, and was cited as late as 1692 by Increase Mather, then president of Harvard College.
It is unknown if a degree of alarm at the extreme superstition and witch-phobia expressed by Kramer in the Malleus Maleficarum may have been one of the numerous factors that helped prepare the ground for the Protestant Reformation.
Peak of the trials: 1560–1630
There has been discussions whether the witch hunt was most intense in Catholic or Protestant regions. However, the intensity of persecutions had not so much to do with Catholicism or Protestantism as such, as there are examples of both intense and less intense witchcraft persecutions from both Catholic and Protestant regions of Europe. In Catholic Spain and Portugal for example, the numbers of witch trials were few because the Spanish and the Portuguese Inquisition respectively preferred to focus on the crime of heresy rather than witchcraft, while the Protestant Scotland had an intense witch hunt. On contrast, the witch trials in Protestant Netherlands stopped earlier and were among the fewest in Europe, while the gigantic mass witch trials which took place in the autonomous territories of the Catholic Prince Bishops in Southern Germany were infamous in all of the Western World, and the contemporary Herman Löher described how they affected the population within them:
The Roman Catholic subjects, farmers, winegrowers, and artisans in the episcopal lands are the most terrified people on earth, since the false witch trials affect the German episcopal lands incomparably more than France, Spain, Italy or Protestants.
The mass witch trials which took place in Southern Catholic Germany in waves between the 1560s and the 1620s could continue for years and result in hundreds of executions of all genders, ages and classes. These included the Trier witch trials (1581–1593), the Fulda witch trials (1603–1606), the Eichstätt witch trials (1613–1630), the Würzburg witch trial (1626–1631), and the Bamberg witch trials (1626–1631).
In 1590, the North Berwick witch trials occurred in Scotland, and were of particular note as the king, James VI, became involved himself. James had developed a fear that witches planned to kill him after he suffered from storms while traveling to Denmark in order to claim his bride, Anne, earlier that year. Returning to Scotland, the king heard of trials that were occurring in North Berwick, and ordered the suspects to be brought to him—he subsequently believed that a nobleman, Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell, was a witch, and after the latter fled in fear of his life, he was outlawed as a traitor. The king subsequently set up royal commissions to hunt down witches in his realm, recommending torture in dealing with suspects, and in 1597, he wrote a book about the menace that witches posed to society, entitled Daemonologie.
The more remote parts of Europe, as well as North America, was reached by the witch panic later in the 17th-century, among the being the Salzburg witch trials, the Swedish Torsåker witch trials and, somewhat later, in 1692, the Salem witch trials in New England.
Decline of the trials: 1650–1750
There had never been a lack of skepticism regarding the trials. In 1635, the authorities of the Roman Inquisition acknowledged its own trials had "found scarcely one trial conducted legally". In the middle of the 17th century, the difficulty in proving witchcraft according to the legal process contributed to the councilors of Rothenburg (German) following advice to treat witchcraft cases with caution.
Although the witch trials had begun to fade out across much of Europe by the mid-17th century, they continued on the fringes of Europe and in the American Colonies. In the Nordic countries, the late 17th century saw the peak of the trials in a number of areas: the Torsåker witch trials of Sweden (1674), where 71 people were executed for witchcraft in a single day, the peak of witch hunting in Swedish Finland, and the Salzburg witch trials in Austria (where 139 people were executed from 1675 to 1690).
The 1692 Salem witch trials were a brief outburst of witch-phobia which occurred in the New World when the practice was waning in Europe. In the 1690s, Winifred King Benham and her daughter Winifred were thrice tried for witchcraft in Wallingford, Connecticut, the last of such trials in New England. Even though they were found innocent, they were compelled to leave Wallingford and settle in Staten Island, New York. In 1706, Grace Sherwood of Virginia was tried by ducking and jailed for allegedly being a witch.
Witch trials became scant in the second half of the 17th century, and their growing disfavor eventually resulted in the British Witchcraft Act of 1735.
In France, scholars have found that with increased fiscal capacity and a stronger central government, the witchcraft accusations began to decline. The witch trials that occurred there were symptomatic of a weak legal system and "witches were most likely to be tried and convicted in regions where magistrates departed from established legal statutes".
During the early 18th century, the practice subsided. Jane Wenham was among the last subjects of a typical witch trial in England in 1712, but was pardoned after her conviction and set free. The last execution for witchcraft in England took place in 1716, when Mary Hicks and her daughter Elizabeth were hanged. Janet Horne was executed for witchcraft in Scotland in 1727. The Witchcraft Act of 1735 put an end to the traditional form of witchcraft as a legal offense in Britain. Those accused under the new act were restricted to those that pretended to be able to conjure spirits (generally being the most dubious professional fortune tellers and mediums), and punishment was light.
Sporadic witch-hunts after 1750
In the later 18th century, witchcraft had ceased to be considered a criminal offense throughout Europe, but there are a number of cases which were not technically witch trials, but are suspected to have involved belief in witches at least behind the scenes. Thus, in 1782, Anna Göldi was executed in Glarus, Switzerland, officially for the killing of her infant—a ruling at the time widely denounced throughout Switzerland and Germany as judicial murder. Like Anna Göldi, Barbara Zdunk was executed in 1811 in Prussia, not technically for witchcraft, but for arson. In Poland, the Doruchów witch trials occurred in 1783, and the execution of two additional women for sorcery in 1793, tried by a legal court, but with dubious legitimacy.
Despite the official ending of the trials for witchcraft, there would still be occasional unofficial killings of those accused in parts of Europe, such as was seen in the cases of Anna Klemens in Denmark (1800), Krystyna Ceynowa in Poland (1836), and Dummy, the Witch of Sible Hedingham in England (1863). In France, there was sporadic violence and even murder in the 1830s, with one woman reportedly burnt in a village square in Nord. In the 1830s, a prosecution for witchcraft was commenced against a man in Fentress County, Tennessee, named either Joseph or William Stout, based upon his alleged influence over the health of a young woman. The case against the supposed witch was dismissed upon the failure of the alleged victim, who had sworn out a warrant against him, to appear for the trial. However, some of his other accusers were convicted on criminal charges for their part in the matter, and various libel actions were brought.
In 1895, Bridget Cleary was beaten and burned to death by her husband in Ireland because he suspected that fairies had taken the real Bridget and replaced her with a witch.
The persecution of those believed to perform malevolent sorcery against their neighbors continued into the 20th century. In 1997, two Russian farmers killed a woman and injured five other members of her family after believing that they had used folk magic against them. It has been reported that more than 3,000 people were killed by lynch mobs in Tanzania between 2005 and 2011 for allegedly being witches.
Procedures and punishments
Peculiar standards applied to witchcraft allowing certain types of evidence "that are now ways relating Fact, and done many Years before." There was no possibility to offer alibi as a defense because witchcraft did not require the presence of the accused at the scene. Witnesses were called to testify to motives and effects because it was believed that witnessing the invisible force of witchcraft was impossible: "half proofes are to be allowed, and are good causes of suspicion".
Interrogations and torture
Various acts of torture were used against accused witches to coerce confessions and cause them to provide names of alleged co-conspirators. Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. The torture of witches began to increase in frequency after 1468, when the Pope declared witchcraft to be "crimen exceptum" and thereby removed all legal limits on the application of torture in cases where evidence was difficult to find.
In Italy, an accused witch was deprived of sleep for periods up to forty hours. This technique was also used in England, but without a limitation on time. Sexual humiliation was used, such as forced sitting on red-hot stools with the claim that the accused woman would not perform sexual acts with the devil. In most cases, those who endured the torture without confessing were released.
A wide range of tortures was applied to suspects in order to educe confessions of witchcraft and information about supposed conspirators. In addition to various tortures that were applicable specifically to women--such as tearing off the breasts with iron claws or driving red-hot metal pears into the vagina--inquisitors brought victims to the edge of drowning, tore out their fingernails and toenails, or slowly barbecued the naked feet over red-hot coals.
The use of torture has been identified as a key factor in converting the trial of one accused witch into a wider social panic, as those being tortured were more likely to accuse a wide array of other local individuals of also being witches.
A variety of different punishments were employed for those found guilty of witchcraft, including imprisonment, flogging, fines, or exile. The Old Testament's book of Exodus (22:18) states, "Thou shalt not permit a sorceress to live". Many faced capital punishment for witchcraft, either by burning at the stake, hanging, or beheading. Similarly, in New England, people convicted of witchcraft were hanged.
Estimates of the total number of executions
The scholarly consensus on the total number of executions for witchcraft ranges from 40,000 to 60,000 (not including unofficial lynchings of accused witches, which went unrecorded but are nevertheless believed to have been somewhat rare in the Early Modern period). It would also have been the case that various individuals would have died as a result of the unsanitary conditions of their imprisonment, but again this is not recorded within the number of executions.
Attempts at estimating the total number of executions for witchcraft have a history going back to the end of the period of witch-hunts in the 18th century. A scholarly consensus only emerges in the second half of the 20th century, and historical estimates vary wildly depending on the method used. Early estimates tend to be highly exaggerated, as they were still part of rhetorical arguments against the persecution of witches rather than purely historical scholarship.
Notably, a figure of nine million victims was given by Gottfried Christian Voigt in 1784 in an argument criticizing Voltaire's estimate of "several hundred thousand" as too low. Voigt's number has shown remarkably resilient as an influential popular myth, surviving well into the 20th century, especially in feminist and neo-pagan literature. In the 19th century, some scholars were agnostic, for instance, Jacob Grimm (1844) talked of "countless" victims and Charles Mackay (1841) named "thousands upon thousands". By contrast, a popular news report of 1832 cited a number of 3,192 victims "in Great Britain alone". In the early 20th century, some scholarly estimates on the number of executions still ranged in the hundreds of thousands. The estimate was only reliably placed below 100,000 in scholarship of the 1970s.
Causes and interpretations
There were many regional differences in the manner in which the witch trials occurred. The trials themselves emerged sporadically, flaring up in some areas but neighbouring areas remaining largely unaffected. In general, there seems to have been less witch-phobia in the papal lands of Italy and Spain in comparison to France and the Holy Roman Empire.
There was much regional variation within the British Isles. In Ireland, for example, there were few trials.
There are particularly important differences between the English and continental witch-hunting traditions. In England the use of torture was rare and the methods far more restrained. The country formally permitted it only when authorized by the monarch, and no more than 81 torture warrants were issued (for all offenses) throughout English history. The death toll in Scotland dwarfed that of England. It is also apparent from an episode of English history, that during the civil war in the early 1640s, witch-hunters emerged, the most notorious of whom was Matthew Hopkins from East Anglia and proclaimed himself the "Witchfinder General".
Italy has had less witchcraft accusations, and even less cases where witch trials ended in execution. In 1542, the establishment of the Roman Catholic Inquisition effectively restrained secular courts under its influence from liberal application of torture and execution. The methodological Instructio, which served as an "appropriate" manual for witch hunting, cautioned against hasty convictions and careless executions of the accused. In contrast with other parts of Europe, trials by the Venetian Holy Office never saw conviction for the crime of malevolent witchcraft, or "maleficio". Because the notion of diabolical cults was not credible to either popular culture or Catholic inquisitorial theology, mass accusations and belief in Witches' Sabbath never took root in areas under such inquisitorial influence.
The number of people tried for witchcraft between the years of 1500-1700 (by region) Holy Roman Empire: 50,000 Poland: 15,000 Switzerland: 9,000 French Speaking Europe: 10,000 Spanish and Italian peninsulas: 10,000 Scandinavia: 4,000
Various suggestions have been made that the witch trials emerged as a response to socio-political turmoil in the Early Modern world. One form of this is that the prosecution of witches was a reaction to a disaster that had befallen the community, such as crop failure, war, or disease. For instance, Midelfort suggested that in southwestern Germany, war and famine destabilised local communities, resulting in the witch prosecutions of the 1620s. Behringer also suggests an increase in witch prosecutions due to socio-political destabilization, stressing the Little Ice Age's effects on food shortages, and the subsequent use of witches as scapegoats for consequences of climatic changes. The Little Ice Age, lasting from about 1300 to 1850, is characterized by temperatures and precipitation levels lower than the 1901–1960 average. Historians such as Wolfgang Behringer, Emily Oster, and Hartmut Lehmann argue that these cooling temperatures brought about crop failure, war, and disease, and that witches were subsequently blamed for this turmoil. Historical temperature indexes and witch trial data indicate that, generally, as temperature decreased during this period, witch trials increased. Additionally, the peaks of witchcraft persecutions overlap with hunger crises that occurred in 1570 and 1580, the latter lasting a decade. Problematically for these theories, it has been highlighted that, in that region, the witch hunts declined during the 1630s, at a time when the communities living there were facing increased disaster as a result of plague, famine, economic collapse, and the Thirty Years' War. Furthermore, this scenario would clearly not offer a universal explanation, for trials also took place in areas which were free from war, famine, or pestilence. Additionally, these theories—particularly Behringer's —have been labeled as oversimplified. Although there is evidence that the Little Ice Age and subsequent famine and disease was likely a contributing factor to increase in witch persecution, Durrant argues that one cannot make a direct link between these problems and witch persecutions in all contexts.
Moreover, the average age at first marriage had gradually risen by the late sixteenth century; the population had stabilized after a period of growth, and availability of jobs and land had lessened. In the last decades of the century, the age at marriage had climbed to averages of 25 for women and 27 for men in England and the Low Countries, as more people married later or remained unmarried due to lack of money or resources and a decline in living standards, and these averages remained high for nearly two centuries and averages across Northwestern Europe had done likewise. The convents were closed during the Protestant Reformation, which displaced many nuns. Many communities saw the proportion of unmarried women climb from less than 10% to 20% and in some cases as high as 30%, whom few communities knew how to accommodate economically. Miguel (2003) argues that witch killings may be a process of eliminating the financial burdens of a family or society, via elimination of the older women that need to be fed, and an increase in unmarried women would enhance this process.
Catholic versus Protestant conflict
The English historian Hugh Trevor-Roper advocated the idea that the witch trials emerged as part of the conflicts between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Early Modern Europe. This theory has, however, received little support from other experts in the subject. This is because there is little evidence that either Roman Catholics were accusing Protestants of witchcraft, or that Protestants were accusing Roman Catholics. Furthermore, the witch trials regularly occurred in regions with little or no inter-denominational strife, and which were largely religiously homogenous, such as Essex, Lowland Scotland, Geneva, Venice, and the Spanish Basque Country. There is also some evidence, particularly from the Holy Roman Empire, in which adjacent Roman Catholic and Protestant territories were exchanging information on alleged local witches, viewing them as a common threat to both. Additionally, many prosecutions were instigated not by the religious or secular authorities, but by popular demands from within the population, thus making it less likely that there were specific inter-denominational reasons behind the accusations.
In south-western Germany, between 1561 and 1670, there were 480 witch trials. Of the 480 trials that took place in southwestern Germany, 317 occurred in Catholic areas and 163 in Protestant territories. During the period from 1561 to 1670, at least 3,229 persons were executed for witchcraft in the German Southwest. Of this number, 702 were tried and executed in Protestant territories and 2,527 in Catholic territories.
A 2017 study in the Economic Journal, examining "more than 43,000 people tried for witchcraft across 21 European countries over a period of five-and-a-half centuries", found that "more intense religious-market contestation led to more intense witch-trial activity. And, compared to religious-market contestation, the factors that existing hypotheses claim were important for witch-trial activity—weather, income, and state capacity—were not."
Translation from the Hebrew: Witch or poisoner?
It has been argued that a translation choice in the King James Bible justified "horrific human rights violations and fuel[ed] the epidemic of witchcraft accusations and persecution across the globe". The translation issue concerned Exodus 22:18, "do not suffer a ...[either 1) poisoner or 2) witch] ...to live." Both the King James and the Geneva Bible, which precedes the King James version by 51 years, chose the word "witch" for this verse. The proper translation and definition of the Hebrew word in Exodus 22:18 was much debated during the time of the trials and witch-phobia.
1970s folklore emphasis
From the 1970s onward, there was a "massive explosion of scholarly enthusiasm" for the study of the Early Modern witch trials. This was partly because scholars from a variety of different disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, philosophy, philosophy of science, criminology, literary theory, and feminist theory, all began to investigate the phenomenon and brought different insights to the subject. This was accompanied by analysis of the trial records and the socio-cultural contexts on which they emerged, allowing for varied understanding of the trials.
Inspired by ethnographically recorded witch trials that anthropologists observed happening in non-European parts of the world, various historians have sought a functional explanation for the Early Modern witch trials, thereby suggesting the social functions that the trials played within their communities. These studies have illustrated how accusations of witchcraft have played a role in releasing social tensions or in facilitating the termination of personal relationships that have become undesirable to one party.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, various feminist interpretations of the witch trials have been made and published. One of the earliest individuals to do so was the American Matilda Joslyn Gage, a writer who was deeply involved in the first-wave feminist movement for women's suffrage. In 1893, she published the book Woman, Church and State, which was "written in a tearing hurry and in time snatched from a political activism which left no space for original research". Likely influenced by the works of Jules Michelet about the Witch-Cult, she claimed that the witches persecuted in the Early Modern period were pagan priestesses adhering to an ancient religion venerating a Great Goddess. She also repeated the erroneous statement, taken from the works of several German authors, that nine million people had been killed in the witch hunt. The United States has become the centre of development for these feminist interpretations.
In 1973, two American second-wave feminists, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, published an extended pamphlet in which they put forward the idea that the women persecuted had been the traditional healers and midwives of the community, who were being deliberately eliminated by the male medical establishment. This theory disregarded the fact that the majority of those persecuted were neither healers nor midwives, and that in various parts of Europe these individuals were commonly among those encouraging the persecutions. In 1994, Anne Llewellyn Barstow published her book Witchcraze, which was later described by Scarre and Callow as "perhaps the most successful" attempt to portray the trials as a systematic male attack on women.
Other feminist historians have rejected this interpretation of events; historian Diane Purkiss described it as "not politically helpful" because it constantly portrays women as "helpless victims of patriarchy" and thus does not aid them in contemporary feminist struggles. She also condemned it for factual inaccuracy by highlighting that radical feminists adhering to it ignore the historicity of their claims, instead promoting it because it is perceived as authorising the continued struggle against patriarchal society. She asserted that many radical feminists nonetheless clung to it because of its "mythic significance" and firmly delineated structure between the oppressor and the oppressed.
Gender conflict and reaction to earlier feminist studies
An estimated 75% to 85% of those accused in the early modern witch trials were women, and there is certainly evidence of misogyny on the part of those persecuting witches, evident from quotes such as "[It is] not unreasonable that this scum of humanity, [witches], should be drawn chiefly from the feminine sex" (Nicholas Rémy, c. 1595) or "The Devil uses them so, because he knows that women love carnal pleasures, and he means to bind them to his allegiance by such agreeable provocations." Scholar Kurt Baschwitz, in his first monography on the subject (in Dutch, 1948), mentions this aspect of the witch trials even as "a war against old women".
Nevertheless, it has been argued that the supposedly misogynistic agenda of works on witchcraft has been greatly exaggerated, based on the selective repetition of a few relevant passages of the Malleus maleficarum. There are various reasons as to why this was the case. In Early Modern Europe, it was widely believed that women were less intelligent than men and more susceptible to sin. Many modern scholars argue that the witch hunts cannot be explained simplistically as an expression of male misogyny, as indeed women were frequently accused by other women, to the point that witch-hunts, at least at the local level of villages, have been described as having been driven primarily by "women's quarrels". Especially at the margins of Europe, in Iceland, Finland, Estonia, and Russia, the majority of those accused were male.
Barstow (1994) claimed that a combination of factors, including the greater value placed on men as workers in the increasingly wage-oriented economy, and a greater fear of women as inherently evil, loaded the scales against women, even when the charges against them were identical to those against men. Thurston (2001) saw this as a part of the general misogyny of the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods, which had increased during what he described as "the persecuting culture" from which it had been in the Early Medieval. Gunnar Heinsohn and Otto Steiger, in a 1982 publication, speculated that witch-hunts targeted women skilled in midwifery specifically in an attempt to extinguish knowledge about birth control and "repopulate Europe" after the population catastrophe of the Black Death.
Were there any sort of witches?
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the common belief among educated sectors of the European populace was that there had never been any genuine cult of witches and that all those persecuted and executed as such had been innocent of the crime. However, at this time various scholars suggested that there had been a real cult that had been persecuted by the Christian authorities, and that it had had pre-Christian origins. The first to advance this theory was the German Professor of Criminal Law Karl Ernst Jarcke of the University of Berlin, who put forward the idea in 1828; he suggested that witchcraft had been a pre-Christian German religion that had degenerated into Satanism. Jarcke's ideas were picked up by the German historian Franz Josef Mone in 1839, although he argued that the cult's origins were Greek rather than Germanic.
In 1862, the Frenchman Jules Michelet published La Sorciere, in which he put forth the idea that the witches had been following a pagan religion. The theory achieved greater attention when it was taken up by the Egyptologist Margaret Murray, who published both The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921) and The God of the Witches (1931) in which she claimed that the witches had been following a pre-Christian religion which she termed "the Witch-Cult" and "Ritual Witchcraft".
Murray claimed that this faith was devoted to a pagan Horned God and involved the celebration of four Witches' Sabbaths each year: Halloween, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. However, the majority of scholarly reviews of Murray's work produced at the time were largely critical, and her books never received support from experts in the Early Modern witch trials. Instead, from her early publications onward many of her ideas were challenged by those who highlighted her "factual errors and methodological failings".
However, the publication of the Murray thesis in the Encyclopaedia Britannica made it accessible to "journalists, film-makers popular novelists and thriller writers", who adopted it "enthusiastically". Influencing works of literature, it inspired writings by Aldous Huxley and Robert Graves. Subsequently, in 1939, an English occultist named Gerald Gardner claimed to have been initiated into a surviving group of the pagan Witch-Cult known as the New Forest Coven, although modern historical investigation has led scholars to believe that this coven was not ancient as Gardner believed, but was instead founded in the 1920s or 1930s by occultists wishing to fashion a revived Witch-Cult based upon Murray's theories. Taking this New Forest Coven's beliefs and practices as a basis, Gardner went on to found Gardnerian Wicca, one of the most prominent traditions in the contemporary pagan religion now known as Wicca, which revolves around the worship of a Horned God and Goddess, the celebration of festivals known as Sabbats, and the practice of ritual magic. He also went on to write several books about the historical Witch-Cult, Witchcraft Today (1954) and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959), and in these books, Gardner used the phrase "the burning times" in reference to the European and North American witch trials.
In the early 20th century, a number of individuals and groups emerged in Europe, primarily Britain, and subsequently the United States as well, claiming to be the surviving remnants of the pagan Witch-Cult described in the works of Margaret Murray. The first of these actually appeared in the last few years of the 19th century, being a manuscript that American folklorist Charles Leland claimed he had been given by a woman who was a member of a group of witches worshipping the god Lucifer and goddess Diana in Tuscany, Italy. He published the work in 1899 as Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. Whilst historians and folklorists have accepted that there are folkloric elements to the gospel, none have accepted it as being the text of a genuine Tuscan religious group, and believe it to be of late-nineteenth-century composition.
Wiccans extended claims regarding the witch-cult in various ways, for instance by utilising the British folklore associating witches with prehistoric sites to assert that the witch-cult used to use such locations for religious rites, in doing so legitimising contemporary Wiccan use of them. By the 1990s, many Wiccans had come to recognise the inaccuracy of the witch-cult theory and had accepted it as a mythological origin story.
Witch trials by country or region
- Witch trials in Denmark
- Witch trials in England
- Witch trials in Finland
- Witch trials in France
- Witch trials in the Holy Roman Empire
- Witch trials in Hungary
- Witch trials in Iceland
- Witch trials in Italy
- Witch trials in Latvia and Estonia
- Witch trials in the Netherlands
- Witch trials in Norway
- Witch trials in Poland
- Witch trials in Portugal
- Witch trials in early modern Scotland
- Witch trials in Sicily
- Witch trials in Spain
- Witch trials in the Spanish Netherlands
- Witch trials in Sweden
- Witchcraft Acts
- Role of women in Catharism
- Modern witch-hunts
- "Why did Germany burn so many witches? The brutal force of economic competition". Quartz. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
- "Beyond Halloween: Witches, devils, trials and executions". National Catholic Reporter. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
- Per Scarre & Callow (2001), "Records suggest that in Europe, as a whole, about 80 per cent of trial defendants were women, though the ratio of women to men charged with the offence varied from place to place, and often, too, in one place over time."
- Hoak, Dale (1983). "The Great European Witch-Hunts: A Historical Perspective". American Journal of Sociology. 88 (6): 1270–1274. doi:10.1086/227806. PMID 12862082. S2CID 143032805.
- "Menopausal and post-menopausal women were disproportionally represented amongst the victims of the witch craze--and their over-representation is the more striking when we recall how rare women over fifty must have been in the population as a whole." Lyndal Roper Witch Craze (2004)p. 160
- Jones, Adam. "Case Study: The European Witch-Hunts, c. 1450–1750 and Witch-Hunts Today". Gendercide Watch. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
- Thurston 2001. p. 01.
- mostly in the Holy Roman Empire, the British Isles and France, and to some extent in the European colonies in North America; largely excluding the Iberian Peninsula and Italy; "Inquisition Spain and Portugal, obsessed with heresy, ignored the witch craze. In Italy, witch trials were comparatively rare and did not involve torture and executions." Anne L. Barstow, Witchcraze: a New History of the European Witch Hunts, HarperCollins, 1995.
- "Clearly, there was an increase in sceptical voices during the Carolingian period, even if we take into account an increase in surviving sources." Behringer, "Witches and Witch-hunts: a Global History", p. 31 (2004). Wiley-Blackwell.
- "Christian theology underwent a major shift of attitude only during the 13th century. In his Summa contra Gentiles, Thomas Aquinas (1255–74) not only confirmed Augustine's semiotic theory, according to which spells, amulets or magical rituals indicated a secret pact with demons but gave the impression that sorcerers, through the support of the devil, could physically commit their crimes." Behringer, "Witches and Witch-hunts: a Global History", pp. 35–36 (2004). Wiley-Blackwell.
- Charles Molinier, L'Inquisition dans le Midi de la France au XIIIe et au XIVe siècle, étude sur les sources de son Histoire (1880), p. ii.
- Molinier (1880), p. 6
- Molinier (1880), p. xvi–xviii.
- HC Lea, A History of the Inquisition, Vol. III (1922), p. 455, 657. Lea includes the entire 1329 sentence reprinted in the original Latin. A Francophone writer and contemporary of N Remy, Lambert Daneau, considers "sortilegus" to have been shortened to become the French "sorcier" De Veneficis Quos Olim Sortilegos (1575), p. 14 and sorciers was the term used in the title of another contemporary Jean Bodin in a witch-phobic work written in French in 1580. Bodin, De la Demonomanie des Sorciers (1598 edition)
- Thurston 2001. p. 67,77.
- Matthew Champion, Scourging the Temple of God Parergon (2011) 28.1 p 9-10.
- Flagellum Haereticorum Fascinariorum p. 36. See translations and interpretation in Matthew Champion, Scourging the Temple of God Parergon (2011) 28.1 p 1-24.
- George L. Burr "The Literature of Witchcraft" (1890) p. 252.
- "... the doctrine of witchcraft crystallized during the middle third of the 15th century...(Ostorero et al. 1999).", Behringer, "Witches and Witch-hunts: a Global History", pp. 18–19 (2004). Wiley-Blackwell.
- The English translation is from this note to Summers' 1928 introduction Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- Attached to front of Kramer's book is the 1484 Summis desiderantes affectibus, a papal bull of Pope Innocent VIII in which he approved the inquisition to move against witches who were explicitly accused of having "slain infants yet in the mother's womb" (abortion) and of "hindering men from performing the sexual act and women from conceiving." The Bull of Innocent VIII see Malleus Maleficarum translation by Montague Summers.
- See 2004 essay by Wolfgang Behringer on Malleus Maleficarum "first printed in... Speyer, by then a medium sized town on the Rhine."
- Jolly; Raudvere; Peters, eds. (2002). Witchcraft and magic in Europe: the Middle Ages. p. 241.
- Increase Mather, Cases Concerning Evil Spirits p. 272 Appended to his son's book, Wonders of the Invisible World, (1693)
- Behringer, "Witches and Witch-hunts: a Global History", p. 19 (2004). Wiley-Blackwell.
- "In Switzerland, the rustic 'forest cantons' of the original Confederation apparently remained unaffected by witch trials until after 1560.", Behringer, "Witches and Witch-hunts: a Global History", p. 19 (2004). Behringer, "Witches and Witch-hunts: a Global History", p. 21 (2004).
- Thurston 2001. p. 79.
- Ankarloo, Bengt, Witchcraft and magic in Europe. Vol. 4, The period of the witch trials, Athlone, London, 2002
- Thurston 2001, pp. 80–81.
- "even the Roman Inquisition recognized that abuses were common; in 1635 it admitted that "the Inquisition has found scarcely one trial conducted legally."", Midelfort, "Witch hunting in southwestern Germany, 1562–1684: the social and intellectual foundations", p. 28 (1972).
- "Doubts about their ability to prove witches unequivocally guilty according to due legal procedure, fears that they would invoke God's wrath against themselves and their subjects if they overstepped its bounds, and a certain humility in thinking that witchcraft was a matter best left up to God, all played a part in encouraging the Rothenburg councillors and their advisers to handle witchcraft cases with caution.", Rowlands, 'Witchcraft narratives in Germany: Rothenburg 1561–1652', p. 59 (2003). "Compelling legal reasons almost always also existed in specific cases to discourage the councillors and their advisers from taking action against sabbat-attenders.", Rowlands, 'Witchcraft narratives in Germany: Rothenburg 1561–1652', p. 57 (2003).
- "Witchcraft Cases other than Salem".
- "Va. Woman Seeks To Clear Witch of Pungo". USA Today. Associated Press. 9 July 2006.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, pp. 69–70.
- Johnson, Noel D. and Mark Koyama, "Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France," The Journal of Law and Economics 57, no. 1 (February 2014): 77–112
- Johnson and Koyama, ""Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France," 2014
- 9 Geo. 2, c. 5.
- Levack, Brian P. (28 March 2013). The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780191648830.
- Robert Tombs (1996). "Collective Identities: Community and Religion". France 1814–1914. London: Longman. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-582-49314-8.
- Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, Volume LX, 10 August 1834, Number 17,057 (From the Nashville (Tenn.) Herald, of 22d July) (transcribed at http://www.topix.com/forum/city/jamestown-tn/TPAPB6U4LVF0JDQC8/p2
- History of Fentress County, Tennessee, Albert R. Hogue, compiled by the Fentress County Historical Society, p. 67 (transcription)
- Touring the East Tennessee Back-roads By Carolyn Sakowski, p. 212.(https://books.google.com/books?id=rLBrUbj02IcC&pg=PA212)
- "3,000 Lynched in Tanzania For 'Witchcraft' In Past Six Years". Huffington Post. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
- MacFarlane, Alan. Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England. United Kingdom, Taylor & Francis, 2002.
- Medway 2001, p. 70.
- H.R. Trevor-Roper, The European Witch-Craze of The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Other Essays, (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 118.
- Camille Naish, Death Comes to the Maiden: Sex and Execution 1431–1933 (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 27.
- Henry Charles Lea, Witchcraft, p. 236 as quoted in Camille Naish, Death Comes to the Maiden: Sex and Execution 1431–1933 (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 28.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 32.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 34.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 12.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, pp. 1, 21.
- Historical Dictionary of Stuart England, edited by Ronald H. Fritze and William B. Robison. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996. ISBN 978-0-313-28391-8. (p.552).
- Hutton 2010, p. 247. Scarre and Callow (2001) put forward 40,000 as an estimate for the number killed.(Scarre & Callow 2001, pp. 1, 21) Levack (2006) came to an estimate of 45,000. Levack, Brian (2006). The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe Third Edition. Longman. Page 23. Hutton (2010) estimated that the numbers were between 40,000–50,000,(Hutton 2010, p. 247) Wolfgang Behringer and Lyndal Roper had independently calculated the number as being between 50,000–60,000.(Behringer 2004, p. 149; Roper 2004, pp. 6–7) In an earlier unpublished essay, Hutton counted local estimates, and in areas where estimates were unavailable attempted to extrapolate from nearby regions with similar demographics and attitudes towards witch hunting. "Estimates of Executions (based on Hutton's essay 'Counting the Witch Hunt')"..
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 21; Hutton 2010, p. 248.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 34; Hutton 2010, p. 248.
- The history of the "nine million" estimate was researched by Wolfgang Behringer: Neun Millionen Hexen. Enstehung, Tradition und Kritik eines populären Mythos, in: Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 49. 1987, pp. 664–685, extensive summary on Archived 20 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- Grimm, Jacob (1883 ). Teutonic Mythology Volume III. Page 1067.
- Mackay, Charles (1841). Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions Volume II. Page 168.
- 'however incredible it may appear, the enormous sum of three thousand one hundred and ninety-two individuals were condemned and executed in Great Britain alone' "WITCHCRAFT". The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842). NSW: National Library of Australia. 29 September 1832. p. 4. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- Norman Cohn rejected estimates in the hundreds of thousands as "fantastic exaggerations". Cohn 1975, p. 253
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 22.
- Langbein, John H. (1977). Torture and the Law of Proof. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 81 ff. ISBN 978-0-226-46806-8.
- Levack, Brain P. (1995). The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe (2nd ed.). London: Longman. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-582-08069-0. See also Larner, Christina (1981). Enemies of God: The Witch-hunt in Scotland. London: Chatto and Windus. pp. 62–3. ISBN 978-0-7011-2424-3.
- A detailed account of Hopkins and his fellow witchfinder John Stearne can be found in Gaskill, Malcolm (2005). Witchfinders: A Seventeenth Century English Tragedy. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01976-8.
- Deutscher, Thomas (1991). "The Role of The Episcopal Tribunal of Novara in The Suppression of Heresy and Witchcraft 1563–1615". Catholic Historical Review. 77 (3): 403–421. JSTOR 25023586.
- Seitz, Jonathan (2009). "'The Root is Hidden and the Material Uncertain': The Challenges of Persecuting Witchcraft in Early Modern Venice". Renaissance Quarterly. 62 (1): 102–129. doi:10.1086/598373. PMID 19618523.
- Black, Christopher F. (2009). The Italian Inquisition. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11706-6.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, pp. 41–42; Behringer 2004, p. 88.
- Midelfort 1972.
- Behringer, Wolfgang (1999). "Climatic Change and Witch-Hunting: The Impact on The Little Ice Age on Mentalities". Climatic Change. 43: 335–351. doi:10.1023/A:1005554519604. S2CID 189869470.
- Fagan, Brian (2000). The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850. United States of America: Basic Books. pp. 47–61.
- Pfister, Christian (1999). "Climatic Variability in Sixteenth-Century Europe and its Social Dimension: A Synthesis". Climatic Change. 43: 5–53. doi:10.1023/A:1005585931899. S2CID 189869419.
- Lehmann, Hartmut (1988). "The Persecution of Witches as Restoration of Order: The Case of Germany, 1590s–1650s". Central European History. 21 (2): 107–121. doi:10.1017/S000893890001270X.
- Behringer, Wolfgang (1999). "Climatic Change and Witch-Hunting: The Impact of The Little Ice Age on Mentalities". Climatic Change. 43: 335–351. doi:10.1023/A:1005554519604. S2CID 189869470.
- Oster, Emily (2004). "Witchcraft, Weather, and Economic Growth in Renaissance Europe". Journal of Economic Perspectives. 18: 215–228. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.526.7789. doi:10.1257/089533004773563502. S2CID 22483025.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 42.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 41.
- Durrant, Jonathan (2007). Witchcraft, Gender and Society in Early Modern Germany. Boston: Brill. pp. 15, 246.
- De Moor, Tine; Van Zanden, JAN Luiten (2010). "Girl power: The European marriage pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period1". The Economic History Review. 63: 1–33. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.2009.00483.x.
- Levack, Brian P. (1995). The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe (Second Edition). London and New York: Longman. Pg. 156–157
- Miguel, Edward (2005). "Poverty and Witch Killing". Review of Economic Studies. 72 (4): 1153–1172. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.370.6294. doi:10.1111/0034-6527.00365.
- Trevor-Roper 1969.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 43.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 44.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, pp. 44–45.
- Midelfort 1972, p. 31.
- Midelfort 1972, pp. 31–32.
- Leeson, Peter T.; Russ, Jacob W. (1 March 2017). "Witch trials". The Economic Journal. 128 (613): 2066–2105. doi:10.1111/ecoj.12498. ISSN 1468-0297. S2CID 219395432.
- Foxcroft, Gary. "Hunting Witches." World Policy Journal 31, 1. 90–98 (2014)
- "Bible Gateway passage: Exodus 22:18 – 1599 Geneva Bible".
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 2.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 2; Hutton 2010, p. 248.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 45.
- Hutton 1999. p. 141.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, pp. 57–58.
- Purkiss 1996, pp. 19–20; Hutton 1999, p. 342; Ehrenreich & English 2010.
- Purkiss 1996, p. 8.
- Barstow 1994.
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 75.
- Purkiss 1996, p. 17.
- Purkiss 1996, pp. 11, 16.
- Gibbons, Jenny (1998) "Recent Developments in the Study of the Great European Witch Hunt" in The Pomegranate No. 5, Lammas 1998.
- According to R. W. Thurston, 75–80% of the victims across both Europe and North America were women, Thurston 2001. p. 42. According to Anne Llewellyn Barstow, 80% of those accused and 85% of those executed in Europe were women. Barstow, Anne Llewellyn (1994) Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts San Francisco: Pandora. p. 23
- Jones, Adam (1999–2002)
- Klaits, Joseph. Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunts (1985), p. 68.
- Stark, Rodney (2003). "God's Enemies: Explaining the European Witch-Hunts". For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 201–288.
- 'On the whole, however, the literature of witchcraft conspicuously lacks any sustained concern for the gender issue; and the only reason for the view that it was extreme and outspoken in its anti-feminism is the tendency for those interested in this subject to read the relevant sections of the Malleus maleficarum and little or nothing else.' Clark, Thinking with Demons: the idea of witchcraft in early modern Europe, p. 116 (1999)
- Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 59; Thurston 2001, pp. 42–45.
- 'the theory that witch-hunting equals misogyny is embarrassed by the predominance of women witness against the accused', Purkis, The Witch in History, p. 92 (1996); Purkis provides detailed examples, and also demonstrates how some documents have been misread in a manner which attributes accusations or legal prosecution to men, when in fact the action was brought by a woman. "More numerous than midwives among the accused were women who were engaged in caring for other women's children. Lyndal Roper has shown that many witchcraft accusations in Ausburg in the late sixteenth and early 17th century arose out of conflicts between mothers and the lying-in maids who provided care for them and their infants for a number of weeks after birth. It was not unnatural for the mothers to project their anxieties about their own health, as well as the precarious health of their infants, on to these women. When some misfortune did occur, therefore, the lying-in maids were highly vulnerable to charges of having deprived the baby of nourishment or of having killed it. What is interesting about these accusations is that they originated in tensions among women rather than between men and women. The same can be said regarding many other accusations made against women for harming young children.", Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, p. 140 (2nd edition 1995)
- Gibbons 1998.
- "In Lorraine the majority were men, particularly when other men were on trial, yet women did testify in large numbers against other women, making up 43 per cent of witnesses in these cases on average, and predominating in 30 per cent of them.", Briggs, 'Witches & Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft', p. 264 (1998). "It appears that women were active in building up reputations by gossip, deploying counter-magic and accusing suspects; crystallization into formal prosecution, however, needed the intervention of men, preferably of fairly high status in the community.", ibid., p. 265. "The number of witchcraft quarrels that began between women may actually have been higher; in some cases, it appears that the husband as 'head of household' came forward to make statements on behalf of his wife, although the central quarrel had taken place between her and another woman.", Willis, Malevolent Nature, p. 36 (1995). "In Peter Rushton's examination of slander cases in the Durham church courts, women took action against other women who had labeled them witches in 61 percent of the cases.", ibid., p. 36. "J.A. Sharpe also notes the prevalence of women as accusers in seventeenth-century Yorkshire cases, concluding that 'on a village level witchcraft seems to have been something peculiarly enmeshed in women's quarrels.'14 To a considerable extent, then, village-level witch-hunting was women's work.', ibid., p. 36
- 'The widespread division of labour, which conceives of witches as female, and witch-doctors male, can hardly be explained by Christian influence. In some European countries, like Iceland, Finland, and Estonia, the idea of male witchcraft was dominant, and therefore most of the executed witches were male. As Kirsten Hastrup has demonstrated, only one of the twenty-two witches executed in Iceland was female. In Normandy three-quarters of the 380 known witchcraft defendants were male.', Behringer, 'Witches and Witch-Hunts: a global history', p. 39 (2004)
- Barstow, Anne Llewellyn (1994) Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts San Francisco: Pandora.
- Thurston 2001. pp. 42–45.
- Gunnar Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: The Elimination of Medieval Birth Control and the Witch Trials of Modern Times, International Journal of Women's Studies, 3, May 1982, pp. 193–214.Gunnar Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: "Witchcraft, Population Catastrophe and Economic Crisis in Renaissance Europe: An Alternative Macroeconomic Explanation.", University of Bremen 2004 (download) Gunnar Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: Birth Control: The Political-Economic Rationale Behind Jean Bodin's "Démonomanie", in: History of Political Economy, 31, No. 3, pp. 423–448; Heinsohn, G. (2005): "Population, Conquest and Terror in the 21st Century." webcitation.com Mainstream scholarship has remained critical of this "macroeconomic approach", e.g. Walter Rummel: 'Weise' Frauen und 'weise' Männer im Kampf gegen Hexerei. Die Widerlegung einer modernen Fabel. In: Christof Dipper, Lutz Klinkhammer und Alexander Nützenadel: Europäische Sozialgeschichte. Festschrift für Wolfgang Schieder (= Historische Forschungen 68), Berlin 2000, pp. 353–375, historicum.net; "there is no evidence that the majority of those accused were healers and midwives; in England and also some parts of the Continent, midwives were more than likely to be found helping witch-hunters." (Purkiss 1996, p. 8)
- Cohn 1975, p. 103.
- Cohn 1975, pp. 103–104; Purkiss 1996, p. 34; Hutton 1999, p. 136.
- Cohn 1975, p. 104; Hutton 1999, pp. 136–137.
- Murray 1952; Murray 1962.
- Sheppard 2013, p. 169.
- Hutton 1999, p. 198.
- Eliade 1975, p. 152.
- Simpson 1994, p. 89.
- Heselton 2004.
- Gardner 1954. p. 139.
- See for instance Hutton 1999. pp. 142–148 and Magliocco 2002.
- Doyle White 2014, p. 68.
- Simpson 1994, p. 95.
- Barstow, Anne Llewellyn (1994). Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts. San Francisco: Pandora.
- Behringer, Wolfgang (2004). Witches and Witch-Hunts. Cambridge: Polity.
- Briggs, Robin (1996). Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-014438-3.
- Caro Baroja, Julio (2001) . The World of the Witches. Nigel Glendinning (translator). London: Phoenix. ISBN 9781842122426.
- Cohn, Norman (1975). Europe's Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch-Hunt. Sussex and London: Sussex University Press and Heinemann Educational Books. ISBN 978-0435821838.
- Davies, Owen (2003). Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History. London: Continuum.
- Doyle White, Ethan (2014). "Devil's Stones and Midnight Rites: Folklore, Megaliths, and Contemporary Pagan Witchcraft". Folklore. 125 (1): 60–79. doi:10.1080/0015587x.2013.860766. S2CID 216643366.
- Ehrenreich, Barbara; English, Deirdre (2010). Witches, Midwives & Nurses: A History of Women Healers (second ed.). New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York. ISBN 978-1-55861-661-5.
- Eliade, Mircea (1975). "Some Observations on European Witchcraft". History of Religions. 14 (3): 149–172. doi:10.1086/462721. S2CID 161503454.
- Ginzburg, Carlo (1983) . The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. John and Anne Tedeschi (translators). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 978-0801843860.
- Ginzburg, Carlo (1990). Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 978-0394581637.
- Halliday, W.R. (1922). "Review of Margaret Murray's The Witch-Cult in Western Europe". Folklore. 33. pp. 224–230.
- Hughes, Pennethorne (1952). Witchcraft. Longmans, Green.
- Hutton, Ronald (1991). The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK and Cambridge, US: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-17288-8.
- Hutton, Ronald (1999). The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0192854490.
- Hutton, Ronald (2010). "Writing the History of Witchcraft: A Personal View". The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies. 12 (2): 239–262. doi:10.1558/pome.v12i2.239.
- Hutton, Ronald (2011). "Revisionism and Counter-Revisionism in Pagan History". The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies. 13 (2): 225–256. doi:10.1558/pome.v12i2.239.
- Jensen, Gary (2007). The Path of the Devil: Early Modern Witch Hunts. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-46974.
- Kieckhefer, Richard (2000). Magic in the Middle Ages (second ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521785761.
- Klaniczay, Gábor (1990). The Uses of Supernatural Power: The Transformation of Popular Religion in Medieval and Early-Modern Europe. Susan Singerman (translator). Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691073774.
- Lavenia, Vincenzo (2015). "The Alpine Model of Witchcraft. The Italian Context in the Early Modern Period". In Marco Bellabarba; Hannes Obermair; Hitomi Sato (eds.). Communities and Conflicts in the Alps from the Late Middle Ages to Early Modernity. Bologna and Berlin: Il mulino–Duncker & Humblot. pp. 151–64. ISBN 978-3-428-14821-9.
- Levack, Brian P. (1995). The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe (second ed.). London and New York: Longman.
- Medway, Gareth J. (2001). Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism. New York and London: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814756454.
- Midelfort, H.C.E. (1972). Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany 1562–1684: The Social and Intellectual Foundations. Stanford.
- Murray, Margaret A. (1962) . The Witch-Cult in Western Europe. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Murray, Margaret A. (1952) . The God of the Witches. London: Faber and Faber.
- Pócs, Éva (1999). Between the Living and the Dead: A Perspective on Witches and Seers in the Early Modern Age. Budapest: Central European Academic Press.
- Purkiss, Diane (1996). The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415087629.
- Roper, Lyndal (2004). Witch Craze. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Rose, Elliot (1962). A Razor for a Goat: A Discussion of Certain Problems in Witchcraft and Diabolism. Toronto: Toronto University Press.
- Runciman, Steven (1962). "Foreword". In Margaret Murray (ed.). The Witch-Cult in Western Europe. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Russell, Jeffrey B.; Alexander, Brooks (2007). A New History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics and Pagans. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-28634-0.
- Sanders, Andrew (1995). A Deed Without a Name: The Witch in Society and History. Oxford and Washington: Berg. ISBN 978-1-85973-053-9.
- Scarre, Geoffrey; Callow, John (2001). Witchcraft and Magic in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Europe (second ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave. ISBN 9780333920824.
- Sheppard, Kathleen L. (2013). The Life of Margaret Alice Murray: A Woman's Work in Archaeology. New York: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-7417-3.
- Simpson, Jacqueline (1994). "Margaret Murray: Who Believed Her and Why?". Folklore. 105. pp. 89–96. doi:10.1080/0015587x.1994.9715877.
- Thomas, Keith (1971). Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
- Thurston, Robert W. (2001). Witch, Wicce, Mother Goose: The Rise and Fall of the Witch Hunts in Europe and North America. Edinburgh: Longman. ISBN 978-0582438064.
- Trevor-Roper, Hugh (1969). The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Other Essays. New York: Harper & Row.
- Wilby, Emma (2005). Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-84519-078-1.
- Bailey, Michael D. (2006). Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-3386-8.
- Federici, Silvia (2004). Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia. ISBN 1-57027-059-7.
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- Gouges, Linnea de (2018). Witch hunts and State Building in Early Modern Europe.
- Heselton, Philip (2004). Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian Witchcraft. Somerset: Capall Bann.
- The Stages of a Witch Trial—a series of articles by Jenny Gibbons.
- 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia entry on "Witchcraft". Retrieved April 2011
- The Decline and End of Witch Trials in Europe by James Hannam
- Research on witch trials in Scotland
- Witchcraft, BBC Radio 4 discussion with Alison Rowlands, Lyndal Roper & Malcolm Gaskill (In Our Time, 21 October 2004)
- Caliban and the Witch — Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation, by Silvia Federici. at the Internet Archive.