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Alie BursonHY 490

Gendered Ideas in Witch Trials

To begin….When you think of witches and witchcraft what do you initially think about?

Not Historically Accurate, but Fun!

In colonial America and early modern Europe, religious ideas, particularly those associating women with spiritual weakness, cultivated a gendered understanding of witchcraft. As a result, more women than men experienced witch accusations, trials, and persecutions.

Thesis Statement

Malleus Maleficarum by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, 1486Daemonologie by King James VI and I, 1597The Salem Witchcraft Papers by Stephen Nissenbaum, 1977Records of Salem Witchcraft Trials, 1692-1693Records of German Witchcraft Trials, 1580’s (not known specific dates)

Primary Sources

Intellectual and Religious Origins

-Witch hunts began based on religious beliefs and ideals. -Malleus Maleficarum was written with the intent of proving the existence of witchcraft and for methods in persecuting and discovering witches. -Women were targeted as the ideal character for witches because of ideals represented by religion. -Women were represented as weak spirits, therefore making women the prime suspects of witchcraft

Intellectual and Religious Origins

-Daemonologie was published a century after Malleus, but is also aimed at proving the existence of witchcraft. -Similarly, Daemonologie and Malleus Maleficarum use women as the weaker gender therefore making women susceptible to witchcraft. Overall, Witch hunts originated from the Catholic belief system which led to women being the prime targets of witch hunts and persecutions.

Analysis of Salem Witch Trials

-Main Primary Sources: Salem Witch Trial Documents of the trials of Tituba, William Hobbs of Topsfield, John Jackson Sr., and Sarah Good. -The way the witch trials were conducted for men were less abrasive and direct than trials for women. -The men, William Hobbs and John Jackson Sr., were able to give testimonies stating they were innocent. -The interrogations of women were biased.

-German trials all followed the lead of the trials at Trier. -Rules set forth by judge Cornelius Loos in Trier stated that tortured confessions were not real confessions. -The Wurzburg trials targeted college students, specifically females. -Wurzburg trial only specified females who were executed by burning. -Oddly, the trials at Bonn only mention men being burned, yet gives individualized circumstances of women being accused.

Trier, Bonn, Bamberg, and Wurzberg

Analysis of German Witch Trials

Overarching Theme: Witch trials in both colonial U.S. and early modern Europe were gendered based on ideas put forward by religious ideals. -What was surprising? Male witches DID exist! Male witches are historically left out of the arguement. -Questions to Consider: How did the European trials influence the colonial U.S. trials?

What did we Learn?

Thank you for listening! Questions?