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History Notes > Optional 8: Witch-craft and Witch-hunting in early modern Europe Notes

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REVISION NOTES: WITCHCRAFT: GENDER:

1. Which features characterized the early modern witch?
- Stereotypes were important:"Witchcraft in the early-modern period was very much in the eye and the imagination of the beholder" (Alison Rowlands).
- Many of accused were old women.C16th and C17th witch hunt had "offered a clear way of dealing with evil, by locating the source of evil in an old woman"
- Lyndal Roper.-75-85% executed 1500 = women. CA: takes time to build up rep.
- Rowlands' study showed many first accused 20s and 30s.Many were menopausal.
- Roper highlights images of witches as having sagging breasts, shrivelled wombs.
- "Reflected a misogyny directed... against old women in particular" (Alison Rowlands).Often widowed.
- 50% in Briggs' Lorraine study.Comes through strongly in trials:
- E.g. Ursula Gotzin, Marchtal 1627 - Hans Bettinger 'always thought she was a witch', mother had been accused, trial mentioned 'it should be reported that the arrested Ursula aged 72 has never had a husband'.
- E.g. in trial of Euphame McCalzean, June 1591, Edinburgh, Janet Cunningham (whom Euphame had consulted with) described as 'an old indicted witch of the finest champ'.
- Often linked to mother e.g. Barbara Kurzhalsin apparently taken by mother to Sabbath on pitchfork at Holder-Stauden at Ebenhausen. Mother already executed.Highlighted in pop culture.
- E.g. early-C16th poem, 'The Tunning of Elynor Rummyng'
- sold bad drink, bad prices, grotesque old woman.
- Evil stepmother was already "a stock figure in fairytales" (Merry E Wiesner). Were often poor.

---1970s: Alan MacFarlane, Keith Thomas blamed this. Eva Labouvie's study of Saar region - 43% = lowest class. 3.5%
land-owning. Prob = pre-existing rep could be reason for refusing aid. Also, soc structured in way that could make young resent old. (Rowlands). Exceptions e.g. Diedrich Flade and Christoph Wendler von Bregenoth.

Mad?
- Argued by Sona Rosa Burstein, 1949 (linked to senility).
- Crit by Edward Bever - said ages ranged 40-80 and that it was instead because of socio-economic difficulties.
- In city of Rothenburg, main mad people = accusers.
- From Rowlands' study.
- E.g. 1709 - Maria Appolonia Schumaker - had to hit head on wall as so full of WC.
- Accused = more "indignant and tenacious denial" (Rowlands). E.g. Maria Hollin. Grumpy?
- Keith Thomas' argument.
- Rothenburg again suggests not (Rowlands).
- Appolonia Glaitter commended by pastor of Leuzendorf. Also nursed Michael Klenckh's wife.

2. How relevant is the idea of the witch as a bad mother or wife?
[Can also use for witch hunting = woman hunting questions].

Many of accused were old women:
- See above points.
- Menopausal pt = important."Her post-menopausal body was understood as the negative inverse of the childbearing woman's body" (Rowlands).Did contemps really understand this?CA: blood, milk seen as negative substances anyway.
- E.g. Rothenburg 1641 trial - man claimed wife tried to poison by filling mouth with post-partum vaginal discharge.

- Marital status was important.

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