Witchcraft in Iberia

William Monter

in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199578160
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Witchcraft in Iberia

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  • European History
  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)



This article discusses the history of witchcraft in the Iberian peninsula. Both the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions were sceptical about the cumulative concept of witchcraft. Reversing the policy of France, their nearest European neighbours, Spain and Portugal, tried to prevent secular courts from punishing a crime that Continental jurists agreed was of ‘mixed’ jurisdiction; and thanks to royal support, they succeeded in doing so much of the time in most of Iberia. The Spanish Inquisition had less jurisdictional control over the crime of witchcraft than its Portuguese counterpart, particularly in the northeastern lands that belonged to the crown of Aragon rather than the crown of Castile. In the Spanish dependency of Sicily, there were no recorded executions for this offence. But across Spain’s northernmost provinces, where inquisitorial courts executed about two dozen witches between 1498 and 1610, secular courts put several hundred witches to death, mainly between 1520 and 1625.

Keywords: witchcraft; Spain; Portugal; Spanish Inquisition; Sicily; secular courts

Article.  7193 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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