An Anthropological Study of the European Witch-Hunts- Second Printing
The European Witch-Craze 23
Chapter One The European Witch-Craze At the close of the Middle Ages, the people of western Europe were led to believe that they were the target of a vast occult conspiracy of witches orchestrated by the Devil. Many were convinced that Satan himself walked the earth, bringing disaster and destruction. Secular and ecclesiastical authorities, along with leading jurists, theologians, and philosophers, all confirmed the reality of the threat. According to a contemporary chronicler: "All who have afforded us some signs of the approach of [the] Antichrist agree that the increase of sorcery and witchcraft is to distinguish the melancholy period of his advent; and was ever [an] age so afflicted as ours? The seats destined for criminals in our courts of justice are blackened with persons accused of this guilt. There are not judges enough to try them. Our dungeons are gorged with them. No day passes that we do not render our tribunals bloody by the dooms which we pronounce, or in which we do not return to our homes discountenanced and terrified at the horrible confessions which we have heard. And the devil is accounted so good a master, that we cannot commit so great a number of his slaves to the flames but what there shall arise from their ashes a sufficient number to supply their place."1 The Church joined with civil authorities to battle the occult threat. Anti-witchcraft legislation was enacted, and across Europe systematic campaigns to eradicate the satanic conspiracy were put into motion....
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