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The Unfair Prosecution Of Women: Witchcraft In Early Modern Europe

2270 words - 9 pages

Introduction and Research Process
Malleus Maleficarum was written 1486 by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger concerning the prosecution of witches. The purpose of the work was to prove that witchcraft was indeed real, and that it was primarily practiced by women. It is widely believed that approximately 60,000 people were executed and somewhere around twice that number were put on trial.
The question is why did witchcraft become such a common crime, and why did women become prosecuted for being witches? Tamar Herzig is a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University, specializing in gender history and in her article Flies, Heretics, And The Gendering Of Witchcraft she explains the influences on Heinrich Kramer that led to his points of view that he expresses in the Malleus Maleficarum. The article Witchcraft Beliefs and Witch Hunts by Niek Koning, a senior lecturer in agricultural economics and rural policy for the University of Wagenigen, provides socio-economic and rural views of the prosecution of witches in early modern Europe. He explains the evolution of witchcraft belief that coincided with agricultural and societal development. Brian Levack takes an in-depth look at all aspects of witchcraft in his Articles on Witchcraft, Magic, and Demonology: a Twelve Volume Anthology of Scholarly Articles, from which I chose to examine his volumes on the general studies of witchcraft and on women. Levack is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, where he specializes in legal history and the history of witchcraft. A professor of history and religious studies at the University of Virginia, H.C. Erik Midelfort wrote the article Witch Craze?: Beyond the Legends of Panic, which provides a religious perspective, especially in Germany, of the prosecution of witches in early modern Europe. Witchcraft and Judgement in Reformation Germany by Bob Scribner, who was a leading historian of Reformation Germany, also provides a German point of view, particularly examining the effects of the Reformation on witchcraft. Carla Suhr, a senior lecturer for the University of Turku, in Finland, highlights the effects of witchcraft pamphlets on the spread of beliefs of witchcraft in her article Portrayal of Attitude in Early Modern English Witchcraft Pamphlets, using her knowledge of historical linguistics to explain how and why they were written. Finally, in the book Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an in-depth look at women in early modern Europe is provided, with an explanation of why women were so heavily discriminated against. I chose to use these sources based on the variety of perspectives provided from the different works, as well the diversity of specializations of the authors. I feel that these sources balance each other because they reinforce each other’s points and add multiple views to various issues concerning witchcraft. Through the research...

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