Chapter

The devil’s power to delude: elite beliefs about witchcraft and magic

Alison Rowlands

in Witchcraft Narratives in Germany

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780719052590
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700167 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719052590.003.0003
The devil’s power to delude: elite beliefs about witchcraft and magic

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Rothenburg and its hinterland had this restrained pattern of formal prosecution for witchcraft during the early modern period. There was a web of legal, social and cultural factors at popular and elite levels which operated and interacted to deter the inhabitants of the area from accusing their neighbors of witchcraft at law, and to ensure that the allegations of witchcraft that reached the courts rarely led to convictions for the crime and never triggered mass trials. This chapter discusses elite beliefs about witchcraft and explains reasons that the city councilors were unwilling to overstep the boundaries of due legal procedure in their prosecution of alleged witches. Elite beliefs about maleficent or demonic witchcraft were expressed around three themes in early modern Rothenburg: maleficium, or the causing of harm by magical means; the making of pacts with the devil; and the flight to and attendance at witches' dances or sabbats.

Keywords: elite beliefs; sabbats; devil's power; demonic witchcraft; alleged witches

Chapter.  16324 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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