Witchcraft in the 16th and 17th Centuries


How do Historians Account for the Comparative Differences in Witch Hunting and the Witchcraze Throughout Europe?

Title page of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, 1520 (from the University of Sydney Library)
Title page of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, 1520 (from the University of Sydney Library)

The witchcraze was a period in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries where so-called ‘witches’ were hunted and punished for practising witchcraft. This belief in witchcraft was most noticeable in Scotland and continental Europe as this is where the majority of accusations took place.[1] This essay will look at several different areas of witchcraft and the witchcraze, including where beliefs did and did not take hold, the proportion of men and women who were accused, the influence of the Protestant Reformation and the prosecution of witches across Europe. Historians tend to agree that the witchcraze took off in Protestant areas more than Catholic areas, and also that it was largely female-identified. Historians also agree that there were different punishments for witchcraft in different countries, with some being stricter than others. However, there are some problems in analysing the differences in the witchcraze in different countries because for some countries it is difficult to access the trial records and historians do not even agree on the number of people who were executed as witches in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at the height of the witchcraze.

The witchcraze had more of an effect in some countries than others but the questions that were asked to accused witches by the interrogators and the authorities were often given the same or very similar answers all across the globe, and it was this which first gave rise to the idea that the witchcraze was an ‘international conspiracy’.[2] Continue reading “Witchcraft in the 16th and 17th Centuries”

Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrich Zwingli & John Knox


Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach 1528.
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach 1528.

Martin Luther 1483-1546

Germany – monk, priest, reformer, author & professor of theology
Rejected five of the seven sacraments – sale of indulgences, confession, pilgrimages, prayers to Saints and the Catholic Mass.
Salvation achieved through faith not good works.
Transubstantiation – real body and blood of Christ.
Denied Papal authority.
Importance of the Scriptures.
Bible should be in the vernacular.
For clerical marriage.
Works:- * Ninety-Five Theses (1517) * Appeal to the German Nobility (1520) * Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520) * Freedom of a Christian (1520) * On Secular Authority (1523) * Bondage of the Will (1525) * Small and Large Catechisms (1529) Continue reading “Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrich Zwingli & John Knox”

Timeline of the Scottish Reformation


 

John Knox 1572.
John Knox 1572.

1514 – Probable date of birth of John Knox.

1536 – Knox is ordained as a priest.

1542 – James V dies and is succeeded by his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots.

James V dies and his successor is his first daughter, Mary, who becomes Mary Queen of Scots. The Stuarts were known for being Catholics, and that is partially why Henry VIII didn’t wish for the succession to pass to the children of his sister Margaret (the mother of James V). Mary was only a year old when she succeeded to the throne and at one point there were plans to marry her to the future Edward VI of England.

1543 – Knox converts to Protestantism.

1545 – Knox becomes an associate and bodyguard to George Wishart.

1546 – Wishart is executed / martyred. Continue reading “Timeline of the Scottish Reformation”

Timeline of the German Reformation


 

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach 1528.
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach 1528.

1510 – Luther is sent to Rome on monastic business and sees the corruption of the Church.

1517 – Luther posts his 95 theses on a church door in Wittenburg in Germany, formally beginning the Protestant Reformation in Europe:-

The disputation protests against clerical abuses like pluralism, absenteeism, baptism and the sale of indulgences (the idea that people could buy a place in heaven for their souls, and to forgive their sins).

1518 – Luther defends his beliefs in front of Augustinians, and refuses to recant. Frederick the Wise protects him from being handed over to Rome.

1519 – Luther debates papal infallibility and begins a New Testament sermon series.

1520 – Luther is told by papal bull to recant within 60 days or be excommunicated, but he instead burns the bull and writes three texts:- Continue reading “Timeline of the German Reformation”

Timeline of the Swiss Reformation


 

Huldrich Zwingli by Hans Asper, about 1531.
Huldrich Zwingli by Hans Asper, about 1531.

1484 – Huldrych Zwingli was born.

1499 – War between the Swabian League and the Swiss Cantons and a Swiss victory forces the Treaty of Basel, granting Swiss independence:-

The Treaty of Basel was an armistice to end the war between Switzerland and the Swabian League, which was a peace-keeping Imperial organisation. The war had lasted nine months and the Emperor Maximilian I was forced to sign a treaty due to an unprecedented Swiss victory.

1509 – John Calvin is born in Noyon, France.

1513 – Peasant and labour rebellions spread outwards from Switzerland.

1522 – Zwingli marries in secret and signs a petition with 10 other ministers to ask the Bishop of Constance for permission to marry; Zwingli also writes his Apologeticus Archeteles as a testimony of his faith. Continue reading “Timeline of the Swiss Reformation”

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