Witchhunt in the Era of Reformation






Witch Hunts



In 1701 CHRISTIAN THOMASIUS demanded the termination of witch trials. Duke-Elector Friedrich Wilhelm I. in 1714 in an edict established that in Brandenburg-Prussia torture was not to be used without his permission. In England the last witch trial took place in 1722. In Austria, Maria Theresia abolished the regulations concerning witch trials; in Hungary, the last execution of a person convicted of witchcraft took place in 1752. The Polish Sejm forbade witchcraft trials in 1776; in Sweden, King Gustavus III. abolished the death penalty in witchcraft trials in 1770.
The last person to be executed as a witch in Germany died in Kempten in 1775; in Switzerland the last perceived witch was executed in (protestant) Glarus in 1782. In 1793, in the Grand Duchy of Posen (which had become Prussian through the second Polish Partition that year) saw the last witchcraft trial in Prussia.

In the century of Enlightenment, witchcraft trials were an anachronistic leftover of the past, of a period dominated by the influence of organized religion. In general, a tendency can be observed; in countries ruled by (enlightened) absolutism, witchcraft trials were terminated at an earlier stage; in countries respectively territories where the church remained influential and where traditional forms of government continued, witchcraft trials took place at a relative late date.







EXTERNAL
FILES
Zur Geschichte der Hexenverfolgung (On the History of Witch Persecutions), by Roibin, in German
Lexikon zur Geschichte der Hexenverfolgung (Lexicon on the History of Witch Persecution), from Univ. München, in German
Article Witchcraft, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Witch Hunt Commented Links, from GWDG
Das Hexenwesen in der frühen Neuzeit (The Witch Business in Early Modern History), posted by Idefix, in German
DOCUMENTS
REFERENCE Anne Llewellyn Barstow, Witchcraze, A new History of the European Witch Hunts, London : Pandora 1995; KMLA Lib.Sign. 138.4 B282w
A.C. Kors & E. Peters, Witchcraft in Europe 1100-1700, A Documentary History, Philadelphia : UPenn (1972) 1999; KMLA Lib.Sign. 133.43 K84w


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 12th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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