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Whether the belief that there are such beings as witches is so essential a part of the Catholic faith that obstinately to maintain the opposite opinion manifestly savors of heresy. And it is argued that a firm belief in witches is not a Catholic doctrine: see Chapter 26, question 5, of the work of Eiscopus. Whoever believes that any creature can be changed for the better or worse, or transformed into another kind of likeness, except by the Creator of all things, is worse than a pagan and heretic.
… To commence, the expressions of the Canon must be treated of in detail (although the sense of the Canon will be even more clearly elucidated in the following question). For the divine in many places commands that witches are not only to be avoided, but also they are to be put to death, and it would not impose the extreme penalty of this kind if witches did not really and truly make a compact with devils in order to bring about real and true hurts and harms.
… This is the opinion of St Thomas when he discusses whether it be evil to make use of the help of devils (ii. 7). For in the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy it is commanded that all wizards and charmers are to be destroyed. Also the 19th chapter of Leviticus says: The soul which goeth to wizards and soothsayers to commit fornication with them, I will set my face against that soul, and destroy it out of the midst of my people. And again, 20: A man, or woman, in whom there is a pythonical or divining spirit dying, let them die: they shall stone them. Those persons are said to be pythons in whom the devil works extraordinary things.
The Malleus Maleficarum: or Hammer of Witches, Part I, Question 1: Whether the Belief that there are such Beings as Witches is so Essential a Part of the Catholic Faith that Obstinacy to maintain the Opposite Opinion manifestly savours of Heresy, (1484), by Heinrich Godfrey Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, Catholic Dominican Inquisitors.
(The Malleus was written as a text for the witch inquisitions in response to Pope Innocent VIII’s papal bull to formalize a plan of action against the Catholic Church’s paranoia of a worldwide conspiracy of witches and Satan. It became the encyclopedia for inquisitors and courts throughout Europe to identify, accuse, torture convictions from, and execute women as witches over the next three centuries. It even, for a brief time, spread to the Calvinist American colonies. The Church was never censored nor condemned for this holocaust against women.)
PART XV: PUNISHING EVE—
Just as war is very profitable for U.S. weapons’ manufacturers, Department of Defense contractors, and many individuals within the elite segment of society who have vested interests in industries providing services and materials required to wage war in our modern-day society, by the seventeenth century in Europe witch-hunting had become an industry. It supported the courts – secular and religious – paying the salaries of the judges, court officials, torturers, physicians, clergymen, scribes, guards, and attendants. Every act of torture, every banquet which the judges held whenever a suspect appeared before them, the very food the prisoner was given had to be paid for. The workmen who erected the stakes and scaffolds, and the men who brought the wood and tar for the executions, profited by the death of each witch. Innkeepers profited by the crowds who came to watch the executions. The need to keep the organization functioning and thereby providing a livelihood for so many people was a major factor in the insistence that witches be tortured into confession and denunciation of accomplices, for a supply of potential victims was essential. “Wretched creatures are compelled by the severity of the torture to confess things they have never done,” said Father Cornelius Loos in 1592, “and so by cruel butchery innocent lives are taken; and by a new alchemy, gold and silver are coined from human blood.” This is an excellent, though alarming analogy to use in considering how many Americans feed from the trough of our never-ending war, and the overall cost to society, both domestically and globally, to maintain this atrocity.
The property of the condemned witches yielded extensive booty for whatever local authority had jurisdiction. After paying the expenses, the property of the witch was confiscated either by the autonomous town, the local nobleman, the king, the bishop, or the Inquisitors; sometimes several courts, secular and ecclesiastical, shared the loot. With such an easy source of funds, it is not strange that the leaders of Germany and France were for a long time content to let the witch persecutions continue.
The witch hunts of early modern Europe have sometimes been compared to Nazi genocide in the twentieth century. R. H. Robbins writes, “To a century which has seen the annihilation of some 15,000,000 human beings in five years by the Nazis, the cruelty and injustice of the witch judges may seem inconsequential. It took 200 years to burn at a conservative estimate, 200,000 witches. Obviously in comparison to Nazi genocide, witchcraft cannot be compared to fascism. But what makes the witch persecutions so repellent and morally lower than fascism, is that throughout civilized Europe, the clergy led the persecutions and condoned them in the name of Christianity, while the lawyers and judges and professors abetted them in the name of reason.”
 Rossell Hope Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology, (Crown Publishers, New York, NY, 1981 edition) p 16.
 Ibid, p 16
 Ibid., p 17
The Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter Reformation
A continuing bit of history on the religions that dominate U.S. culture and public policy today:
But before we examine the changes in the judiciary, we need to ask what social and cultural changes the Reformation brought to those countries where Protestantism became widespread, and that first interrupted and then later increased the witch-hunts? Historians are in consensus that the Reformation in early modern Europe in the first half of the sixteenth century brought about (an even more) secure patriarchal order between the sexes than the already established patriarchal order ushered in by the Hebrew Old Testament, and the Orthodox Catholics. For though the Hebrew and the Catholic fathers created man in the image of God, and man in dominion over woman and over the earth and everything that ‘creepeth upon the earth’, because Catholics took the Hebrew concept of sex with a woman as representing ‘uncleanliness’ and upped the ante by turning it into an unholy and loathsome affair, including loathing man’s desire to have sex with a woman, they had created options for (supposed) abstinence: men living in monasteries, and women in convents. The Reformationists, in turn, despised unmarried, unchaperoned women running about loose on the street on their missions of mercy. They decreed that everyone, male and female, clergy and non-clergy, were to be married, with the man as master of his home domain.
Lyndal Roper, in Oedipus & the Devil: Witchcraft, Sexuality, and Religion in Early Modern Europe, goes on to tell us that “the politics of marriage were as thorough-going as anything Reformation Germany had to offer: parental control of marriage was underwritten by royal statute, and women who bore illegitimate children faced stiff penalties. The Catholics responded in kind. Despite the growth of new Catholic female orders during the years of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, enclosure became required of convent women, and ideals of female sanctity seemed to have shifted so that a saint was more likely to be contained within her convent, her spirituality domesticated and enclosed, not roaming perversely through the streets.” A new and clearer division of male and female roles permitted a new wave of Marian devotion to develop in Catholic Counter-Reformation Europe: the cult of an idealized (virgin) woman, Marianism flourished particularly among all-male groups such as the Jesuits. As such, Marianism removed the threat of a real woman and real femininity.
“By advocating marriage for all, whether lay or clerical, sexual renunciation was no longer associated with holiness. Male head of household hierarchy became an understood mandate. Like other sanctified relations of authority and submission, marriage was conceived in bilateral terms: the governance of the husband was counterposed to the subordination of the wife, who ought to ‘obey him as her head.’ This paradigm of relations between the sexes so saturated Reformation thinking that the discourse of wifehood displaced that of womanhood altogether. There was almost no rhetoric of motherhood in the early years of the Reformation.”
Morals and the ‘morality policing’ by church and secular was another change in the effort to create godly cities and society. “Taking over the old concerns of the pre-Reformation morals ordinances, reformed authorities clothed them in religious garb: the vices of drunkenness, gorging, adultery and whoredom were always sins, but their chastisement were now criminalized by new, far more effective courts—some exclusively lay, sometimes a mixture of Church and secular—which, together with the new church, undertook the implementation of ‘brotherly discipline,’ which meant, this time they meant business. The confessional and the penitentials punishment was replaced by fines, prison sentences, flogging, and banishment.
In these more godly reformed communities, sins were gendered. Drinking and gambling were male sins due to the damage they caused to ‘wife and child,’ while sexually related sins were attributed to women as women were guilty of leading men astray. “Here the role of the prostitute is of importance, not so much because closure of brothels was an exclusive Protestant concern—it was not: Catholic towns, too, closed brothels and set about banishing prostitutes. But in doing so, evangelical councilors denied there was a category for prostitutes, as such. Instead, there were women who engaged in illicit sexual relations. Whether the crime was adultery or fornication turned on the marital status of the participants; prostitutes were thus more ‘sinful’ than their clients because their ‘misbehavior’ was simply more frequent. Consequently, they faced exile while their clients usually escaped with fines. The effect was to blur the distinction between prostitutes—no longer seen as a separate, dishonorable group—and honorable women. It also resulted in a slippage of the rhetoric of whoredom, which could now easily be applied to women, who, though they did not engage in sex for money, could be viewed as ‘wanton’: women who had sex with men before securing public promises of marriage, or women who committed adultery.” All women, not just prostitutes, were fair game to be accused of practicing the arts of seduction. The procedure in criminal court cases demonstrated that point: a man’s best strategy when accused of fornication or sued for paternity was to claim ‘she’ had led him on, had incited him. Because she took the sexual initiative, she could easily be classed as a whore, thus minimizing male culpability. ‘Lust’ could thereby be displaced onto woman. (Not a new concept, rather as old as the Old Testament that spawned Christianity.)
The ideal advocated by evangelical leaders for man was marriage and sexual discipline. “The real man was a household head, a little patriarch ruling over wife, children, servants, journeymen, and apprentices. Like the city fathers on the council, he was vested with the power to chastise; and like them, his good governance consisted in careful stewardship of the household’s limited resources. What gave this ‘real man’ access to the world of brothers was one’s mastery of a woman which guaranteed one’s sexual status. In this very old lay ideal, marriage was a precondition to mastership and full membership of a guild. But as the economy contracted, and guilds made entry more difficult, mastership was a status that fewer and fewer could attain. So the gap between the ideal and reality was wide: paternal discipline often turned into wife-beating. (More to follow on this theme later, as this is the desired model the Christian fundamentalists are advocating, lobbying for public policy, and home-schooling their proliferate numbers of young to attain in modern-day America.)
The very manliness required of sixteenth century males actually resulted in fear and insecurity over their sexual prowess. For the merchant world, manhood and virility were presumed to reside in the control of all things, and in the honor and power of one’s name. Women, by contrast, were widely held to be the manipulators of emotion, inspiring love and hatred, and using strange arts to divine, foretell, and control. Women were mistresses of transformational science; women controlled the resources of body magic—their sorcery much feared. They knew how to manipulate and control men’s organs, making men fall in love with them; they knew how to rob them of manhood. It was this dynamic and anxiety over power that led to witch fantasies that played out so predominately in the witch-hunts and persecutions, and as are described in such misogynistic detail in the Malleus Maleficarum.
The Shift from Ecclesiastical Courts to Secular Courts and the Growth of the Judiciary
It is important to note that it was the shift from ecclesiastical courts to secular courts, and the changes in the manner in which cases were tried that allowed the witch-hunts to take place on the scale they did. “Before the thirteenth century European courts used a system of criminal procedure that made all crimes difficult to prosecute. Referred to as the accusatorial system, a criminal action was both initiated and prosecuted by a private person who was usually the injured party or his next of kin. The accusation was a formal statement before a judge. If the accused admitted his guilt, or if the private accuser could provide certain proof, then the judge would decide against the defendant. If there was any doubt, however, the court would appeal to God to provide some sign of the accused person’s guilt or innocence. This involved the ‘ordeal.’ Either the accused party would have to carry a hot iron a certain distance, and then show, after his hand was bandaged for a few days, that God had miraculously healed his seared flesh; or he would have to put his arm into hot water and in similar fashion reveal a healed limb after bandaging; or he would be thrown into a body of cold water and would be considered innocent only if he sank to the bottom. There were other forms of ‘ordeals’. But during the trial, the judge would remain an impartial arbiter. The prosecutor was the accuser, and if the defendant proved himself innocent, then the accuser became liable for criminal prosecution according to the old Roman tradition of the lex talionis.” This was, of course, a non-rational process that left the final outcome to God. Plus, the system did not result in many convictions, since the accuser ran the risk of being prosecuted himself.
Beginning in the thirteenth century, the ecclesiastical and secular courts of western Europe adopted new techniques that assigned a much greater role to human judgment in the criminal process. The main impetus for the changes implemented was the growing realization that crime was increasing –particularly heresy—and had to be reduced through punishment. The new system that gradually took form during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries in continental Europe is known as the ‘inquisitorial.’ An accuser could still bring an accusation to court, and often did. But he did not prosecute the case, nor was he liable for prosecution himself if the defendant was found innocent. The judge obtained evidence by interviewing the accused and witnesses. Even more important, this new system allowed officers of the court including the judge to cite a criminal on the basis of information they had obtained themselves, often by rumor. The evidence gathering was often not collected or deliberated publically, and the accused was not allowed to know who was testifying against them—(hm… if this sounds eerily familiar of the military terrorist tribunals in the United States today, where ‘classified’ evidence is maintained secret from the defendant and the defense attorney, we now know it’s roots lie in the Inquisitions and the witch trials! That patriarchal DNA is deeply embedded and now considered ‘normal.’) As well, since judgment was now in the hands of humans and not God, it became mandatory that irrefutable evidence be present before sentencing. That irrefutable evidence, especially in the case of heresy trials during the Inquisitions and the later witch trials, were confessions of guilt and were extracted from the accused through torture.
“By the time the second wave of intense witch-hunting began, in the second half of the sixteenth century, England was the only country in Europe that had not incorporated at least some of the features of inquisitorial procedure into its legal system. As well, they had a jury of laymen gather and evaluate the evidence. English courts, like their continental counterparts, abandoned the ‘ordeal’ and other ‘supernatural probations’ by the early thirteenth century; they also entrusted the determination of guilt to human judgment. But, whereas on the Continent officers of the court acquired the right both to initiate legal proceedings and to determine their outcome, in England, lay jurymen—men not trained in law—performed those functions. A presenting jury, acting in the name of the King, initiated or at least exercised prior review over all ‘public’ prosecutions, while the determination of guilt was left to a lay jury, whose duty it was to establish the facts of the case. Consequently England had one of the lowest rates of witch convictions and executions. The Scottish criminal process represented something of a hybrid between the English and the Continental models.
Other reasons why the British Isles had lower witch persecutions: the famed medieval papal heresies never crossed the channel thus paranoia was less and so when accumulative witchcraft concepts swept Europe, it did not find fertile ground in Britain. In England, trials did not exceed 5000 and executions did not exceed 2500 (though that’s still a lot of people, mostly women, being burned for some incredulous act they didn’t commit!) These remarkably lower numbers were attributed to their lower population (1/4 of that of France); and their laws didn’t allow use of torture to get confessions, other than by the Privy Council and only when matters of state were involved. Limited use of torture prevented large chain reaction witch prosecutions. Also, the judge did not determine guilt, but only interviewed witnesses and the accused. A jury determined guilt, and because there was less fear and paranoia, juries were more lenient.
Levack tells us that “the reduction in the intensity of witch-hunting during the first half of the sixteenth century was reflected in, and to some extent even caused by, an interruption in the publication of witchcraft treatises and manuals.” As was mentioned in the last chapter, there was an interruption in the printing of the Malleus Maleficarum between 1520 and 1580. In similar fashion, none of the other fifteenth century witchcraft treatises found a market during those years. During the 1550’s, 60’s and 70’s there was a notable increase in individual witch prosecutions and small witch hunts. There were also a number of witch laws passed in England, Scotland, and German territories. More significantly, theologians, lawyers, by the likes of Thomas Erastus and Jean Bodin began refuting the doubts resulting from earlier humanists’writings (one notable humanist being Johann Weyer). The resumption of printing of the Malleus Maleficarum and other fifteenth century treatises served notice that the period of skepticism was over.
Jean Bodin (1529-1596) was a professor of law at Toulouse, royal advisor to the King of France, and public prosecutor at Laon. On the subject of witchcraft, Bodin was an implacable enemy of all who would question the justice and legitimacy of the witch-hunt and execution. In writing about reward and punishment as the means of maintaining the status and greatness of a state: “Those people delude themselves who think that the penalties are only established to punish the crime. I maintain that it is the least benefit that accrues to the state. For the greatest and chief one is to appease the anger of God. The second benefit of the punishment is to obtain the blessing of God on the whole country. As it is written for example in the law of God, “After you have destroyed with fire and sword the city from amongst my people, and from amongst your brothers, which has left God to serve idols, and you have killed every living soul, both men and beasts, you shall erect a heap of stone, a memorial, in triumph, and then I will extend my great mercies upon you, and will shower you with my favours and blessings.” (Bodin is quoting from the same Bible that Christian fundamentalist Bible literalists quote and believe in today!)
(Bodin continues) “The third benefit one receives from punishment of the wicked, is to strike fear and terror into others, as it is described in the law of God, others having seen the punishment are afraid to commit offence. (Reminiscent of the prosecution of today’s whistleblowers!) The fourth benefit is to preserve from being infected and harmed by the wicked, as plague victims and lepers infect the healthy. The fifth effect is to reduce the number of the wicked… The sixth is so that the good can live in security. The seventh is to punish the wicked.” (All of which combine to form the model for demonizing ‘other’ such as Muslims, and breaking U.S. and international law ‘to keep America secure.’) “…Now if ever there was a way to appease the anger of God, to obtain his blessing, to dismay some by the punishment of others, to preserve some from the infection of others, to reduce the number of the wicked, to secure the safety of the good, and to punish the most despicable wickedness that the human mind can imagine, it is to chastise witches with the utmost rigour. However, the word “rigour” is a misnomer, since there is no penalty cruel enough to punish the evils of witches…” (and so it continues, as Bodin lists all of the obscenities and abominations committed by witches. Again, one sees parallels today in the demonization of Muslims as terrorists: the dismantling of law in prosecuting and executing them with drones, imprisoning the accused without legal due process, and torturing to extract confessions! Referring back to Chapter I that identifies the Calvinist one percent male elite who are in bed with the Christian fundamentalist Right, and who are now in control of our U.S. Government, one readily sees Bodin patriarchal logic alive and well.)
Bodin’s landmark work in the history of witchcraft persecutions was first published in 1580, there were ten editions published by 1604 of De la demonomanie des sorciers. Based on Bodin's own experiences as a judge, the work was one of the first to provide a legal definition of witchcraft; the work gives numerous accounts of pacts with the devil and sexual congress with demons and was written as a guide to other members of the judiciary. While Bodin shows some legal erudition, he does not adhere to the ordinary rules of prosecution and urged the brutal treatment of suspects. Bodin is reputed to have boasted that he was personally responsible for the condemnation and execution of around 900 witches. In the third section of the work he lays down procedures for the interrogation, torture, condemning and execution of witches. Here he states that one must not adhere to ordinary legal procedures. Instead, he urges brutal treatment of suspects, and subscribes to the belief that no judge had the right to be lenient. To Bodin, any judge who did not execute a witch should himself be put to death..
Indeed, lest we consider the patriarchy of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation to be quaint aberrations of ignorance from a long-ago past and irrelevant to today, we will soon draw parallels to the writings, and sermons of the Christian fundamentalist Bible literalists who are gaining power in setting policy in the United States today. And as suggested above, we will draw parallels to the gruesome and blatantly illegal acts of war exemplified in our modern-day patriarchy to illustrate that the same themes that played center stage as recently as 250 years ago are still commanding center stage in our so-called civilized society today. But before we leave the early modern European witch-hunts and travel forward in time to America, we take a look at who these women were being tortured and executed as witches.
 Brian Levack, The Witch-hunt in Early Modern Europe, (Longman Group, Essex, England, 1987) p. 173
 Lyndal Roper, Oedipus & the Devil: Witchcraft, Sexuality, and Religion in Early Modern Europe, (Routledge, London, 1994) p 38, quoting from Thomas Robisheaux, Rural Society and the Search for Order in Early Modern Germany, Cambidge, 1989.
 Ibid., p 38, quoting from Patrick Collinson, The Protestant Family, in idem, The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religion and Cultural Change in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, (London 1988) p 93.
 Ibid., p 39, quoting from Louis Chatellier, The Europe of the Devout, Cambridge, 1989; R. Po-Chia Hsia, Society and Religion in Munster 1535-1618, New Haven, Conn. And London, 1984, pp 65-67
 Ibid., p 40
 Ibid., p 40-41.
 Ibid., p 46
 Ibid., p 136
 Brian Levack, Ibid., pp 64-65
 Ibid., p 66
 Ibid., p 67-68
 Ibid. p 183
 Ibid., p 184-185
 Ibid., p178
 Ibid., p 182
 Ibid., p 184
 Edward Peters, Witchcraft in Europe 400-1700, (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2001) p 290-291