Imagining Witchcraft in Literature and Law

Michael Ostling

in Between the Devil and the Host

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587902
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731228 | DOI:

Series: The Past & Present Book Series

Imagining Witchcraft in Literature and Law

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In Poland, the imagined witch was constructed in legal texts and in demonological literature. Witchcraft was illegal under the Saxon Law used by Polish town courts from medieval times, but no state edict ever defined witchcraft or clarified the law. In the late sixteenth century the influence of the Carolina, and of western legal theory made witchcraft a more serious crime than it had been before. The Malleus Maleficarum was translated into Polish in the early seventeenth century. Ribald drama, satires, and a body of Catholic polemical literature fleshed out the image of the witch and opposed secular-court trials. In the late eighteenth century, members of the Polish Enlightenment opposed witch-trials and finally brought about their abolition, in 1776.

Keywords: Saxon Law; Malleus Maleficarum; demonological literature; opposition to witch-trials; Enlightenment; abolition of witch-trials

Chapter.  7474 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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