The development of witchcraft in the thirteenth century

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Janet F. Decker (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
John Beeler

Abstract: It was the purpose of this study to trace the conditions during the thirteenth century which, along with prior supernatural beliefs, led to the development of witchcraft in that century. With emphasis placed on the thirteenth century Church, and social, intellectual and economic changes certain conclusions appear valid. For thousands of years before the thirteenth century primitive man believed in supernatural beings. Ancient mythology abounded with references to witches. Early medieval Europe, primarily France, southern Germany, and surrounding areas with similar cultural inheritance which are the areas of this study, knew much of witches and witchcraft. However, until the thirteenth century there was no undue concern over the witches1 activities. The thirteenth century experienced a number of abrupt changes which affected all members of society to some degree. As feudalism dissolved, the social structure underwent unsettling changes. Economic prosperity affected the mental outlook of many; earthly concerns preempted eternal considerations. Towns multiplied and brought peasants into unfamiliar surroundings. Scholastics resolved the supernatural imaginings into realities which the Church was quick to grasp as the cause of mankind's ills. They organized the ancient myths into a vast system of demonology. They provided the facts for distribution to the masses to accept with fear and trembling.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1973

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