Essay On Malleus Witchcraft

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One of the most recognised contemporary works provides insight into gender, punishment and witches; Malleus Maleficarum. The Malleus is generally agreed upon by historians, such as Behringer and Jerouschek, to feminise witchcraft, and is argued to be the most influential work on the early modern witch trials that led to the numerous persecutions of women. Hans Peter Broedel argues that the Malleus’ gendering of witchcraft was not an attack on women, but an attack on the power of their sexuality, while other historians argue that Kramer did not gender witchcraft, but was focused on exposing the heresy of female witches; “…for intelligent men it appears to be reasonably unsurprising that more women than men are found to be tainted with the Heresy of female witches.” Question six in Malleus contains the social and intellectual understanding of femininity and witchcraft, opening with the question ‘why a larger number of sorcerers are found among the delicate female sex…show more content…
Whilst financial pressure did have some weight in terms of causes of the witch trials, it acted more as a symptom of another factor rather than a reason itself. Throughout the early modern period, witchcraft was a method to exercise power; confessions could be used as a subversion of female roles within society, and accusations acted to consolidate them; a means of breaking the barriers of social class, or constructing them. Equally, the government passed laws against sorcery, just as peasants loathed the phenomenon, and persecutors exploited it to explain misfortune, while the accused used it to make sense of traumatic experiences. Overall, the witchcraft persecutions of the early modern period were rooted in the populous’ need to exert authority over
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