In midsummer 1438, a young man from the northern shore of Lake Geneva introduced himself to the judge of the local church. He confessed. Five years ago, his father forced him to join an evil witch worship organization. They flew on a small black horse by plane in the evening and took part in more than one hundred people gathered on the grass. The devil also appeared there in the form of a black cat. The witch knelt in front of him, worshiped him, and kissed his hind legs.
The young man’s father has been executed as a witch.
From 500 to 1500 AD, in the Middle Ages, he became famous for his ruthless cruelty and hopeless credulity. He probably tried to reduce the penalty by voluntarily telling the investigator what they wanted to hear. People usually believe in all kinds of magic, monsters and fairies. But it was not until the 15th century that organized Satanic witchcraft became popular. As a historian of medieval magic, I am fascinated by the union of churches and state institutions to develop and promote this new concept of witchcraft for my own purposes.
Early attitudes toward witchcraft
Believe in witches Ever since the emergence of the evil Greeks and Romans, evil people have engaged in harmful magical performances. In the early Middle Ages, the authorities basically did not care about this.
A church document in the early 10th century declared that "witchcraft and witchcraft" may be true, but the idea that the wizarding gang and the devil were flying overnight until night was an illusion.
Things began to change in the 12th and 13th centuries. Ironically, due to the maturity of well-educated elites in Europe.
The university is being established, and scholars in Western Europe have begun to study ancient literature and writings from the Muslim world. Some of them present a complex magic system, claiming that they can use interstellar power or summon powerful souls. Gradually, these ideas began to cause academic influence.
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Ordinary people (the kind who were eventually accused of being witches) did not perform detailed rituals from books. They collected herbs, brewed potions, and maybe said a few words, just like generations. There are many reasons why they do this-it may be to hurt people they don't like, but more to heal or protect others. In a world with only basic medical forms, this approach is important.
Christian authorities had previously regarded this magic as empty superstition. Now they take all magic more seriously. They began to believe that simple spells worked by summoning demons, which meant that anyone who performed these demons would secretly worship the demons.
Inventing Satanic Witchcraft
In the 1430s, a small group of writers in Central Europe-church investigators, theologians, magistrates, and even a historian-began to describe horrific gatherings where witches gathered and worshipped Demon, carnival or eating murdered the baby and carried out other abhorrent acts. It is unclear whether these authors have met, but they all describe a group of witches allegedly active in the western Alps.
The reason for this development may be purely practical. Since the 13th century, church investigators active in religious pagans and some secular courts have sought to expand their jurisdiction.
I have just translated many of these early texts into an upcoming book, and I am shocked because the author is worried that readers do not believe them. Some people worry that those who are "self-taught" will "belittle" his words. Another person worried that "simple people" would refuse to believe that "fragile sex" would engage in this terrible practice.
The test record shows that this is a difficult sale. Most people still worry about harmful magic-witch disease or crop withering. They don't care much about secret Satan gatherings.
In 1486, Pastor Heinrich Kramer published the most widely circulated medieval text about organized witchcraft, "Malleus Maleficarum" ). But many people do not believe him. When he tried to search for a witch in Innsbruck, Austria, he was kicked out by the local bishop, who accused him of being old.
Unfortunately, there is growing fear of Satanic witchcraft. The 15th century seemed to provide the ideal soil for this new idea to take root.
Europe is recovering from several crises: the plague, the war and the division of the church, two of which are then three competing popes. Since the 1450s, printing presses have made it easier to spread new ideas. Even before the Protestant Reformation, the Reformation was in progress. As I discussed in my earlier book, the reformers used the idea of a vicious conspiracy centered on corrupt Christianity when advocating spiritual renewal as their spiritual revival.
As time passed, more and more people began to accept this new idea. Churches and state governments have always told them that this is true. Despite this, many people continue to rely on local "witches" for magical treatment and protection.
The history of witchcraft is grim. From the 1400s to the 1700s, the Western European authorities executed approximately 50,000 people, most of them women, engaged in witchcraft. The worst witch hunt can take hundreds of victims at once. In comparison, there were 20 deaths, and the maximum number of American hunting in Salem was moderate.
Salem (Salem) marked the end of the New England Witch Hunt in 1692. In Europe, skepticism will eventually prevail. However, it is worth remembering that at the outset, the authorities must work hard to convince others that such malice does exist.
History Professor Michael D. Bailey, Iowa State University
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