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Witchcraft and magic in Enlightenment Europe

This book looks at aspects of the continuation of witchcraft and magic in Europe from the last of the secular and ecclesiastical trials during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, through to the nineteenth century. It provides a brief outline of witch trials in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland. By the second half of the seventeenth century, as the witch trials reached their climax in Sweden, belief in the interventionist powers of the Devil had become a major preoccupation of the educated classes. Having acknowledged the slight possibility of real possession by the Devil, Benito Feijoo threw himself wholeheartedly into his real objective: to expose the falseness of the majority of the possessed. The book is concerned with accusations of magic, which were formalised as denunciations heard by the Inquisition of the Archdiocese of Capua, a city twelve miles north of Naples, during the first half of the eighteenth century. One aspect of the study of witchcraft and magic, which has not yet been absorbed into the main stream of literature on the subject, is the archaeological record of the subject. As a part of the increasing interest in 'popular' culture, historians have become more conscious of the presence of witchcraft after the witch trials. The aftermath of the major witch trials in Dalarna, Sweden, demonstrates how the authorities began the awkward process of divorcing themselves from popular concerns and beliefs regarding witchcraft.

Open Access (free)
Beyond the witch trials
Owen Davies
Willem de Blécourt

eighteenth century, Dutch authorities were as much concerned with the threat to ‘ties of good harmony between neighbours’ caused by witch doctors as with questions of medical impropriety and immorality. Likewise in early eighteenth-century Spain the attack on exorcists by the Benedictine monk Benito Feijoo was primarily concerned with their threat to social rather than theological order. It is also clear with regard to witchcraft and magic that the balance between secular and religious criminal jurisdiction was highly variable across Europe. While Oja and de Blécourt

in Beyond the witch trials
Feijoo versus the ‘falsely possessed’ in eighteenth-century Spain
María Tausiet

Benedictine Father Benito Feijoo (1676– 1764) launched against the so-called vulgo (the ‘common herd’), one of the most impassioned was undoubtedly that dedicated to those possessed by the Devil. Presenting himself as an exposer of false beliefs, for whom Spanish society at the time was crying out, Feijoo warned his contemporaries about the great number of falsely possessed wandering around the country. From his perspective, the proliferation of fake possessed people constituted one of the most serious deceptions, and also one of the most widely accepted by the masses. For

in Beyond the witch trials
Open Access (free)
Magic, madness and other ways of losing control
Elwin Hofman

magic could not be held responsible for their actions. Indeed, theologians and legal scholars generally agreed that the only person who could be held responsible in these cases – besides the devil – was the witch. 96 The Spanish Benedictine Benito Feijoo, writing in the mid-eighteenth century, even considered fake possession one of the greatest threats to criminal justice, for it would allow people to commit all sorts of terrible crimes without being punished. 97 However, as far as I know, no suspect in the Southern Netherlands successfully claimed before a

in Trials of the self