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Defending democracy

This book looks at the theoretical issue of how a democracy can defend itself from those wishing to subvert or destroy it without being required to take measures that would impinge upon the basic principles of the democratic idea. It links social and institutional perspectives to the study, and includes a case study of the Israeli response to Jewish extremism and violence, which tests the theoretical framework outlined in the first chapter. There is an extensive diachronic scrutiny of the state's response to extremist political parties, violent organizations and the infrastructure of extremism and intolerance within Israeli society. The book emphasises the dynamics of the response and the factors that encourage or discourage the shift from less democratic and more democratic models of response.

Open Access (free)
Roman ‘tyranny’ and radical Catholic opposition

This chapter discusses a case study that provides a different context of the Enlightenment. The experience of Catholic dissidents in the Italian peninsula provides some similarities with the struggles in France. The chapter illustrates that broad politico-religious struggle, rather than the actions of the philosophes, provides the most significant challenge to the status quo of Enlightenment Europe. It sheds light on the nature of the polemical challenge that radical Catholics–Jansenists advanced against Roman theocracy and Church jurisdiction in the independent states of the Italian peninsula. In the practical absence of the voices of deists and philosophes, the broad Catholic forces opposed the ‘tyranny’ of Rome in very forceful terms remarkably similar to those of dissenting Protestants. This chapter also demonstrates how politics and religion were intertwined, and that the broad politicisation of religion is really the key to understanding religious change in the Enlightenment.

in The Enlightenment and religion
Open Access (free)
Demonological descriptions of male witches

The body of witchcraft literature is much too large to permit a complete survey; there is, however, a smaller group of works that could be considered canonical, at least from the perspective of contemporary scholarship. This chapter presents data compiled from ten of these canonical works, as well as a brief discussion of demonological illustrations. Stuart Clark's statement that demonological theory about gender and witchcraft did not conform to the patterns of prosecution appears somewhat too broad. Clark's conclusions are similar to those of Eric Wilson, whose Cambridge dissertation is the first modern study in English of the Malleus maleficarum. Both Clark and Wilson suggest that early modern demonology was sex-specific and thus different from witchcraft prosecutions, which were merely sex-related.

in Male witches in early modern Europe
medical pluralism and the search for hegemony

This chapter explores the presence of magical elements in everyday life during the modern period. Broader folkloric compilations about the whole of Spain, which cover the first four decades of the twentieth century, also inform us of the presence of fortune-tellers and bewitchers. Two key sources for understanding the role of magical healing during the modern period are folklore surveys and newspapers, though their use is fraught with problems. The medical and folkloric sources also describe many other magic-based therapeutic procedures dedicated to treating diseases whose etiology was not usually popularly associated with the supernatural. In the context of health professionals' efforts to achieve hegemony in health and illness management, the label of curandero was used to refer to an unspecified reality considered as a 'moral illness that swarms everywhere like a confederate indestructible germ which poisons all it touches'.

in Witchcraft Continued

In 1997, Stuart Clark published the first monograph since the time of Jules Michelet to focus on pre-modern ideas about witches. The language of belief in witchcraft studies betrays an anachronistic, modernist and dismissive approach to a mental universe quite different from our own. This book makes the male witch visible, to construct him as a historical subject, as a first step toward a deeper understanding of the functions and role of gender in pre-modern European witch-hunting and ideas about witches. The overtly political dimension to the study of witches in early modern Europe demands a high level of consciousness and reflexivity regarding language, representation, and meaning. William Monter provides a wealth of data about male witches, in an 'unremarkable province' close to 'the heart of northern and western Europe'. Here, men comprised the majority of those tried and executed for witchcraft. The book examines cases in which men were accused of witchcraft. The examples are drawn from several different regions, in order to test conventional generalisations about male witches. The agency theory posits that actors always have choices; 'agent-centred' morality proposes a novel twist on both traditional Kantian internalist categories. The problems of both male and female witches' agency and selfhood are discussed. The book also presents data compiled from ten canonical works, and a brief discussion of demonological illustrations. Finally, it addresses the question of what it means to label a man as a witch within a framework that explicitly and implicitly feminised witchcraft.

Theology and popular belief

The Malleus Maleficarum is one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches. Written in 1487 by a Dominican inquisitor, Heinrich Institoris, following his failure to prosecute a number of women for witchcraft, it is in many ways a highly personal document, full of frustration at official complacency in the face of a spiritual threat, as well as being a practical guide for law-officers who have to deal with a cunning, dangerous enemy. Combining theological discussion, illustrative anecdotes and useful advice for those involved in suppressing witchcraft, the treatise's influence on witchcraft studies has been extensive. The only previous translation into English, that by Montague Summers in 1928, is full of inaccuracies. It is written in a style almost unreadable nowadays, and is unfortunately coloured by Institoris's personal agenda. This new edited translation, with an introductory essay setting witchcraft, Institoris and the Malleus into clear English, corrects Summers' mistakes and offers an unvarnished version of what Institoris actually wrote. It will undoubtedly become the standard translation of this controversial late medieval text.

Open Access (free)
Witchcraft and the symbolics of hierarchy in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland

This chapter examines how the vocabulary and imagery of witchcraft and magic in the trials reflects the symbolics of social hierarchy as well as the basis and creation of hierarchies in peasant communities. The inversion of hierarchy symbolised in witchcraft served to define the order through negation, not only as hierarchical in general, but also as a specific kind of hierarchy. On the level of social and ideological theory, witchcraft and vidskepelse thus fitted into the model of social misrule, which symbolised the opposite of world order. The chapter provides a brief outline of witch trials in late seventeenth-and early eighteenth-century Finland. Even though the trend was for the prosecution of benevolent magic and 'superstition', in the western Finnish parish of Ulvila, maleficium trials continued into the early eighteenth century.

in Beyond the witch trials

This chapter provides an understanding of the relationship between the will of God, witchcraft and misfortune. An obvious corollary to a belief in witches is the perception that certain kinds of recognisable injuries or misfortunes are due to witchcraft, and many people in medieval Europe were prepared to accept certain kinds of misfortunes as the result of witchcraft or harmful magic. A problem faced by all witch theorists was to explain why a just God would grant permission for witches to wreak such havoc upon the world. The belief in a powerful, aggressive, threatening witch corresponded to a mechanical and liberal view of divine permission. Where God provided meaningful oversight to demons, witchcraft was not particularly threatening. If, however, God was so offended by human sin that virtually all diabolic requests to visit punishment upon it were approved, witches were free to utilise the power of the devil almost automatically. While God and the devil retreated into mechanical passivity, the efforts of their human followers became increasingly important. The witch becomes the effective agent of diabolic power, a living, breathing devil on earth in respect to those around her. For this reason, the arguments of the text focus as much upon spiritual remedies as upon the power of witches, and upon the thin but critical line that separates the diabolic power from the divine.

in The Malleus Maleficarum and the construction of witchcraft

This chapter discusses the reasons the myth of a deist movement has remained so important to Enlightenment studies, even when the evidence adduced for it has been markedly insufficient. It examines the claims for a deist movement, the actual numbers of verifiable deists, the problem of defining deism, and how the desire to identify the roots of and validate modernity has led to long-term distortion of historical evidence and subsequent interpretation. Furthermore, the fear of infidelity, antichristianism and heterodoxy that produced the witchcraft craze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries also produced the early origins of the deist scare. In the eighteenth century, deists remained scarce and, aside from a few high-profile moments in France, never fulfilled the role assigned to them by admirers or detractors. In the twentieth century, deism was resurrected and imbued with new force by historians, and made to appear as one of the great contributors towards secular modernity.

in The Enlightenment and religion

This chapter draws on over 300 narratives recorded in rural Finland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that provide information concerning the social relations, tensions and strategies that framed sorcery and the counter-magic employed against it. Witchcraft accusations and the actual identification of witches seem to have played only a minor role in the sorcery dynamics of rural Finnish society when compared to the situation following the period of witchcraft trials in other parts of western Europe. Finnish folk narratives regarding sorcery addresses how the landless poor used their magical knowledge as a medium of exchange or barter to gain material goods, and how the landless poor could coerce material benefits from landowning farmers by cultivating a reputation for magical harm. It also addresses the key role of counter-sorcery in defusing aggression, and the ways in which magical harm was collectively categorized as either legitimate or illegitimate.

in Witchcraft Continued