HIST3445 WITCHCRAFT AND THE WITCH-HUNTS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE Fall 2013 Reading Guidelines Using the Reading Guidelines from the Website The reading guidelines are intended to help you focus your reading
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HIST3445 WITCHCRAFT AND THE WITCH-HUNTS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE Fall 2013 Reading Guidelines Using the Reading Guidelines from the Website The reading guidelines are intended to help you focus your reading in an effective way while giving you a structure for note-taking. Simply reading the textbooks and underlining key passages will not be sufficient to help you assimilate and understand the material. You must take notes, but of course you cannot take notes on every single detail in the course textbooks because of time constraints. In addition to taking detailed notes on introductory sections, use the questions in the guidelines as your guide for what to focus on in the reading assignment. You will not be required to hand in your answers to these questions per se, but I tend to build my lesson plans for the discussion classes around them; also, I base my exams on those reading guideline questions. If you can answer these questions in an intelligent and detailed manner, then you will pass this course with flying colours. The reading guidelines file on the course website is a running file that I add to for every class. I tend to add the reading guidelines for the readings for the next class about two days in advance. If you are new to the discipline of history, you may wish to consult: Clark, Vincent Alan. A Guide to Your History Course: What Every Student Needs to Know. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009. HIST3445 WITCHCRAFT AND THE WITCH-HUNTS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE Monday, September 9, 2013: Lecture: A Brief Overview of the Witch-Hunts in Early Modern Europe Fall 2013 Readings: Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, the three prefaces, pp. ix-xiii; Introduction, pp Some General Thoughts We begin this course with an examination of Levack s general purpose in writing his book and his perspective on the Early Modern European witch-hunt. Most of this introductory material outlines important definitions, but also the critical questions that Levack is trying to answer in his book. It may seem initially odd to see a History textbook go through three editions, but that reflects the changing nature of the field as well as the impact of new and important scholarship (from History and other disciplines). It is ironic, but the more we discover about this phenomenon, the more complicated it becomes and the more difficult it is to make generalizations about the witch-hunt. Historians knowledge of the topic is becoming more sophisticated and more complex. In the Introduction, pay particular attention to the definition of terms. These will become important to master as we move through this course. You will also acquire from this Introduction a sense of the kinds of questions that historians are interested in about the hunts, the problems of working with the data on the witch trials and executions, and how historians analyse that difficult material. Some Questions on the Prefaces i) Why did Levack write a second and then a third edition of his book? ii) Do you think that Levack s general opinion on the witch-hunt has changed over the course of writing those editions? Questions on the Introduction General Questions i) Why did Levack write this book? ii) If there were thousands of people burned at the stake because of witchcraft, why did Levack choose not to use the term witch craze? iii) Outline some of the main themes and statements that Levack makes about the European witch-hunt; A. THE MEANING OF WITCHCRAFT i) What is the difference between witchcraft, maleficia, and sorcery? ii) Why did diabolism make the crime of witchcraft much more severe in the eyes of those who prosecuted it? iii) What is the difference between white magic and black magic, and between witchcraft and demonic possession? B. THE REALITY OF WITHCRAFT i) What questions are historians interested in? What questions are they not interested in? ii) Why is the evidence for the practice of witchcraft and diabolism difficult to use and believe? iii) How has Levack reacted to the conclusions made by Margaret Murray and Carlo Ginzburg? C. THE SIZE OF THE HUNT i) How can the numbers of trials and executions be measured? ii) Do you think that the numbers that historians now generally accept for the trials and executions are representative of historical realities? iii) If there were fewer witches tried and executed than previously believed, does that change the way we should look at the European witch-hunt? Does it lessen the significance of the witchhunt? HIST3445 WITCHCRAFT AND THE WITCH-HUNTS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE Fall 2013 Tuesday, September 10, 2013: Lecture: Witchcraft in the Ancient World Reading Guidelines Readings: Levack, ed. The Witchcraft Sourcebook, Preface, pp. xi-xii; Introduction, pp. 1-3; Part I, pp. 5-29; Part VIII, pp Some General Thoughts This material is intended to provide you with an Introduction to the use of primary historical documents in this topic (and the problems that these documents pose for historians) and to give you some background on the understanding of magic and witchcraft in the ancient world. As HIST3445 is not a course on the classical period, I would not expect you to know all the names of the gods and figures cited in these texts. What is most important here is not only how magic, witchcraft, and witches were understood and depicted in the ancient world, but especially how that depiction and understanding influenced later generations in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. The stereotype of the witch was not necessarily born in the fifteenth century; it did take on a new shape in that century, but it also built upon earlier depictions. Christian demonologists would also use biblical texts to argue against the practice of any form of witchcraft. Some of this material will strike as you as somewhat shall we say? bizarre. We need only cite the example of poor Lucius and the witches that came disguised as rodents to gnaw off his nose and ears, without him realizing it, or those over-the-top love recipes. Still, you can imagine how some of this material would have horrified the Christian demonologists of later centuries, not only the pagan veneration of pagan gods evident in these texts, but also the conjuring of demonic spirits and the degree of amorality in some of these works. General Questions: i) In a general sense, what can these types of documents tell us and not tell us? Why do historians have to be careful with these various types of sources such as plays, biblical stories, and letters? ii) How does the preface and introduction support and build upon what you have already read in the main textbook? Specific Questions on the Texts: 1. The Witch of Endor i) What did Saul do that would be perceived as self-contradictory and unacceptable to a Christian audience? ii) How do you think an early modern demonologist would use this biblical text? Why would a demonologist quote it and cite it? 2. A Sorcery Trial in the Second Century CE i) What kinds of arguments does Apuleius use to defend the practice of magic? ii) Do his arguments blur the lines between religion and magic? iii) Do you think a Christian writer would agree with him? 3. Curse Tablets against Roman Charioteers (optional) i) Do you think that these curse tablets were meant to be taken lightly, or do you really think that people in this period truly believed in the efficacy of such curses? ii) Do you see any Judaic or Hebrew influence in any of this? 4. Apuleius: The Power of Witches i) What elements in the magical powers of witches described here may have contributed to the European notion of the witch? 5. Horace: Canidia as a Witch Figure i) In what ways does Horace present the witch Canidia as an ineffectual and relatively powerless figure? ii) Why do you think he chose to portray Canidia in this way? 6. Love Magic and Antiquity i) What kinds of techniques and instruments do these recipes recommend? ii) What is there in these recommendations that may have angered a Christian demonologist or a theologian such as St. Augustine? 7. St. Augustine: Demonic Power in Early Christianity i) Connect Augustine s negative reactions to magic to his disgust towards pagan religions? ii) How does he provide a doctrinal and theological foundation for the medieval condemnation of ritual magic? iii) How does Augustine label all magic as malevolent and the work of Satan? 58. Seneca: The Witch in Classical Drama i) How is Medea portrayed in this work? Compare and contrast this depiction with the depiction of Canidia in Horace s work; ii) What is there in the depiction of Medea that may have contributed to the medieval and early modern understanding of the witch? HIST3445 WITCHCRAFT AND THE WITCH-HUNTS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE Fall 2013 Reading Guidelines Thursday, September 12: Lecture: Witchcraft in the Middle Ages Readings: Robert W. Thurston, The Witch Hunts: A History of the Witch Persecutions in Europe and North America (London and New York: Pearson/Longman, 2007), pp [available on D2L site] Levack, ed., The Witchcraft Sourcebook, Part II, pp Some General Thoughts I would like to convey a number of things with these readings. First, and this is particularly true in the Thurston chapter, I want to give you an idea of the medieval historical context that contributed to the anxiety in the later Middle Ages, the idea of the persecuting society, the hunt for religious dissidents, and the more well-developed institutions to prosecute them. The sense of crisis that set in especially in the later Middle Ages would contribute significantly to the witch-hunts. It shows how the more violent attitudes towards witches in part came into being in the Middle Ages, especially the later Middle Ages. The Thurston reading helps explain why people did what they did, thought what they thought (which makes them look less stupid and irrational in our eyes, because it can be shown that they were reacting to external problems). That is not to exonerate the witch prosecutors or people living in the Middle Ages who persecuted the Other, because there is nothing inevitable about the reaction to such crises (for example, not everyone killed Jews and lepers in the aftermath of the Black Death; the pope actually tried to stop such mob action). People could have chosen a different path, although it was difficult for them to do so. The second element in these readings is to explain some of the necessary building blocks in the Early Modern European conception of the witch and witchcraft, a conception that provided the main impetus to the hunts of the Early Modern period. These ideas were not born in the Early Modern period; it is true that they took their fullest form at that time, but the elements of that conception were born in the previous period, the Middle Ages. We are not so much interested in the question of whether there were witches in the Middle Ages, but how European attitudes towards witches developed and influenced attitudes in the Early Modern period. Many of these medieval texts would be cited as sources and precedents by Early Modern witch-hunters. THE THURSTON READING A. Belief Systems and Superstitions i) Why would it be inaccurate to label the techniques used by Martin Guerre and his wife as superstition? ii) Is there a difference between religion and superstition in this context? B. The Persecuting Society i) Why did Europe become a persecuting society by the fifteenth century? ii) How did this contribute to a notion that the Devil was very active in Christian society? C. Europe under siege: i) How did the various waves of invaders in Europe change the way that Europeans saw the world? ii) Why do you think that this particular way of thinking would have led to the burning of witches? D. Mass Death throughout Europe i) If there had been no plague, there would have been no witch hunts ; do you agree with this statement? ii) Connect the suppression of the peasant revolts to the Black Death; how did both of those developments contribute to the witch panics of later centuries? E. The Devil s Rise to Prominence i) Give examples from the Christian New Testament in which the Devil is very prominent and active; ii) How was anti-judaic sentiment connected to the fear of the Devil in the New Testament? F. The Consolidation of Western Christianity i) Outline the ways in which the Church was developing an institutional framework and structure for prosecuting religious dissidents ii) Explain the significance of the Fourth Lateran Council; iii) Fit the emergence of the Inquisition into these various historical developments. PART II IN THE LEVACK SOURCEBOOK 8. Canon Law and Witchcraft i) How might a skeptic living in a later century have used the Canon Episcopi? ii) How does the text associate witchcraft with paganism? 9. Aquinas: Scholasticism and Magic i) Why do you think that Aquinas text was important for the development of the European idea of the witch? ii) How could Aquinas text later be used to show that all witchcraft is evil? 10. The Trial of Dame Alice Kyteler, 1324 i) How may have this witch trial anticipated the charges brought against later witches? ii) How did this trial contribute to the notion of diabolism and the witches Sabbath? What ghastly rituals did Alice and her associates partake in (or were accused of partaking in)? 11. Nicholas Eymeric: Magic and Heresy, 1376 i) How does this text make connections between heresy and witchcraft? ii) What are latria and dulia and how do these manifest themselves in the idea of the witch as presented here? 12. The University of Paris: A Condemnation of Magic, 1398 i) Connect this condemnation to Eymeric s text; why is there a need to portray all magic as bad and evil? ii) How does this condemnation express a distinct notion of organized religion? 13. Johannes Nider: An Early Description of the Witches Sabbath, 1435 i) How may have this text specifically contributed to the notion that witches were not only evil, but also numerous and quite dangerous, more dangerous than previously believed? ii) Explain how the ceremonies described here are inversions of Christian ceremonies? 14. Heinrich Kramer, Malleus Malefcarum, 1486 i) How does Kramer counter the arguments of the skeptics? ii) Do you see here in this text paradoxically an accent on the extent on Satan s power but also an accent on the sovereignty of God? If so, in what ways? iii) Why do you think that Kramer was particularly concerned with the sexual aspects of witchcraft? iv) In what ways did this text contribute to the targeting of women in witchcraft prosecutions? HIST3445 WITCHCRAFT AND THE WITCH-HUNTS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE Fall 2013 Tuesday, September 17, 2013: Lecture: The Demonological Treatises Reading Guidelines Readings: Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, Ch. 2, pp Some General Comments The material in this chapter will give more concrete form to some of the documents that we studied last week. The critical central point to keep in mind here is the cumulative concept of witchcraft (a kind of composite of various beliefs concerning witches: the idea that all witchcraft was inherently evil, the pact with the Devil, the witches Sabbath, witches flight, etc.). Without that conglomeration of ideas and without the acceptance of such ideas by the ruling and literary élites, the Early Modern witch-hunts would never have taken place. In that sense, the chapter contributes to Levack s central purpose of explaining why the witch-hunts occurred, why here and why at this particular time. Not everyone was convinced, and there was a persistent skeptical tradition right through the period of the witch-hunts. These skeptics still believed in God and the Devil, but they did not think that witchcraft was as pervasive as people thought. It is important not to see them as the atheistic skeptics of later centuries (i.e. religion is the opiate of the people, religion gets people doped up on Jesus, etc.). Writers like Weyer were profoundly devout, but they were unsuccessful in winning many adherents to their fold. The overarching message that one should take from this chapter is the change in collective mentalities and fears that fueled the witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Those mentalities may have taken a different shape depending on one s socioeconomic status, but they were held in general by even prominent political writers such as Jean Bodin and influential kings such as James VI of Scotland. A General Question i) What was the significance of the change of the image of the Devil in the minds of the ruling élites? A. THE CUMULATIVE CONCEPT OF WITCHCRAFT i) How did the image of the Devil change especially in the fifteenth century? ii) How did this contribute to the cumulative concept of witchcraft? B. THE PACT WITH THE DEVIL i) How did the changing attitudes towards the pact with the Devil lead to the idea that all witchcraft and sorcery were diabolical and evil? ii) How did scholasticism play a role here? C. THE SABBATH i) Why was the idea of the witches Sabbath such an essential ingredient in the rise of the Early Modern witch-hunts? ii) How was the Witches Sabbath an inversion of Christian beliefs and rituals? D. FLIGHT i) Explain the medieval antecedents for the idea of the witches flight to the Sabbath; ii) What did the witches ride on, and what is the significance of these objects? E. METAMORPHOSIS i) Was the perceived ability of witches to transform themselves into other beings an important component of the cumulative notion of witchcraft? F. THE DISSEMINATON OF BELIEF i) Describe some of the mediums and texts that worked to disseminate these ideas across Europe; ii) What was the overall effect of these treatises? How were they transmitted to the lower social orders? iii) Were there differences between the beliefs of the literate elites and those of the unlettered lower social orders? G. THE SKEPTICAL TRADITION i) Describe the five main sources of the skeptical tradition; ii) Why do you think that there were these exceptions to the dominant trend in European thought? iii) Why do you think that the skeptical tradition throughout much of the Early Modern period was unsuccessful? H. WITCHCRAFT AND THE FEAR OF REBELLION i) Why do you think that Levack argues that the fear of rebellion, sedition, and disorder were the most critical factors in the cumulative notion of witchcraft? HIST3445 WITCHCRAFT AND THE WITCH-HUNTS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE Fall 2013 Thursday, September 19, 2013: Lecture: Ideas and Images about Witches Reading Guidelines Readings: Linda C. Hults, Baldung and the Witches of Freiburg: The Evidence of Images, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18, no. 2 (1987): pp [JSTOR] Some General Principles This is very curious material indeed! You will find relevant material for the earlier phase of the witch-hunts in the sixteenth century in this article, because it deals with the process by which the myth of the witch threat was disseminated across Europe. The cumulative notion of witchcraft made its way across Europe through images as well as texts (even if Baldung did have skeptical traits). Gender is a significant element in the craze because so many of the victims were women. Hufts offers (with some nuance) some of the reasons why and how views about female inferiority were grafted onto the myth of the witch threat. Gender also intersects with issues of age and marital status, in that many studies have found a high proportion of elderly widows among the accused (we will be examining these particular issues later in the course). Some Questions to Consider i) How did Baldung s images contribute to the development of the myth of the witch threat? ii) If Baldung believed that the idea of the flight to the witches Sabbath was illusory, why do you think that his images were significant in the cumulative notion of witchcraft? iii) Discuss the depiction of women in Baldung s drawings; iv) How do the drawings of Baldung exhibit misogyny and fear o
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