Witch Hunts Of The Early Modern Period As The Result Of Religious And Social Upheaval

1559 words - 6 pages

Witch Hunts of the Early Modern Period as the Result of Religious and Social Upheaval

The Early Modern Period was a time of great change in and around
Europe. The people of the age were faced with upheaval of all forms;
religious, social, political and even economical.

Religious upheaval stemmed from changes in religious views and
practises. The Reformation was a hugely significant event that took
place in the years spanning 1520-1650. It was a religious, and
political, movement in Europe that began as an attempt to reform the
Roman Catholic Church, but ended in the establishment of Protestantism
and Protestant churches. The aim of the reformers was to restore the
Church to its early Christian purity, and in order to accomplish this,
they made significant changes.

The Reformation denied the power of indulgences, redefined the
function of the sacraments, eliminated or drastically altered the
Roman Catholic Mass and changed the role of the clergy. A developed
idea from the Reformation was that each believer was a priest and it
posited a direct relationship between man and God. In Medieval
Catholicism, clerical and angelic intermediaries were already
established between man and God, but reformers choose to remove many
of these.

The incompatibility of the ideas of the reformers with Roman Catholic
ideology, and the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to reform
itself, led to the break with Rome and the establishment of
independent Protestant churches. The inability of reformers to find
scriptural support for papal authority over them was also an equally
decisive factor for the eventual break with Rome.

Evidently, with these changes to churches and church practises, came
the change in what people concerned actually believed in. Without
doubt, everyone’s religious ideas were being influenced and changed by
what was going on around them.
Concerning these changes, the Reformation caused a distinct change in
the beliefs of the devil amongst the Protestant formers. Roman
Catholics believed in the devil but had always believed they could
defeat him, and had certain ways of protecting themselves from Satan’s
wickedness. In the Catholic faith, it was common to deploy
‘supernatural weapons’ against the devil, such as candles and holy
water. The ‘weapons’ were thought to offer protection against evil
spirits, and as Darren Oldridge comments in his book; ‘The Devil and
the Reformation’, even the ringing of church bells was accepted as
protection against flying demons. Catholics believed that their
traditional rituals such as these protected them from the evils of the
devil and therefore they weren’t as scared of him as they could have
been, these ‘magical’ rituals that helped them face him. Consequently,
with the Reformation, the reformers’...

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