The Unfair Prosecution of Women: Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

1908 Words 8 Pages
Introduction and Research Process
Malleus Maleficarum was written 1486 by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger concerning the prosecution of witches. The purpose of the work was to prove that witchcraft was indeed real, and that it was primarily practiced by women. It is widely believed that approximately 60,000 people were executed and somewhere around twice that number were put on trial. The question is why did witchcraft become such a common crime, and why did women become prosecuted for being witches? Tamar Herzig is a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University, specializing in gender history and in her article Flies, Heretics, And The Gendering Of Witchcraft she explains the influences on Heinrich Kramer that led to his points of view
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Carla Suhr, a senior lecturer for the University of Turku, in Finland, highlights the effects of witchcraft pamphlets on the spread of beliefs of witchcraft in her article Portrayal of Attitude in Early Modern English Witchcraft Pamphlets, using her knowledge of historical linguistics to explain how and why they were written. Finally, in the book Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an in-depth look at women in early modern Europe is provided, with an explanation of why women were so heavily discriminated against. I chose to use these sources based on the variety of perspectives provided from the different works, as well the diversity of specializations of the authors. I feel that these sources balance each other because they reinforce each other’s points and add multiple views to various issues concerning witchcraft. Through the research process my understanding of the prosecution of witches increased greatly. I learned about the effects of religion as well as agricultural and societal change on witchcraft beliefs, and truly how discriminated against women were at that time. If I were to do the assignment again I would perhaps attempt to focus more directly on one aspect of witchcraft rather

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