Women in Early Europe

Good Essays
Were the Witch-Hunts in Pre-modern Europe Misogynistic? The “YES” article by, Anne Llewellyn Barstow, “On Studying Witchcraft as Woman’s History” and the “NO” article by, Robin Briggs, “Women as Victims? Witches, Judges and the Community,” will be compared, and summarized.


Anne Llewellyn Barstow finds that there was a disproportionate amount of women who were accused of Witchcraft in Western Europe between 1400 and 1650. Barstow moves on to point out through the text that these Women were victims of Misogyny due to the definition of Witchcraft being so broad and actually fitting the descriptions of the lives of many women. The patriarchal society of Europe at the time also bound women to lives of a lesser class if they were not living under the protection of men. Women were also seen as sex objects, and were seen as a threat to men who viewed women as untrustworthy and whorish. The findings of her research and views led Barstow to find that women were more likely to be accused and put to death for Witchcraft than men, as they were seen as minors before the courts and could not hold high positions but, they could be accused before the court for the heinous act of Witchery. Women were blamed for every malfunction of their reproductive systems, including stillbirth and were also blamed for preventing conception. Barstow believes that the first ever accounts of Witchcraft prosecution rose in the fifteenth century Europe as a means to control women’s sexual and reproductive lives. Barstow states, that in the English county of Essex, an amazing 92 percent of those accused of Witchcraft were women. The author proves that authors of the day do not concentrate on Women as the victims. In fact Women’s issues were merely brushed o...

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...e more compelling. Barstow argument proved that there was little tangible evidence from that era that proved her points that misoginism was the reason for the brutality against Witches. The only real support was the lack of gender bias proof that she felt was purposely omitted from History. Briggs proved with the books that he referenced, that many minority groups were targets not just women. Briggs agrees that there were more women found guilty of the crime due to disparity in economic standing, but also shows that men were also victims because of the lack of resources. The Medieval states had persecuted minority groups and organized campaigns against religious dissidents Briggs states. Although I believe that Women were unfairly treated in Early Europe, I feel that Briggs pointed out more reasons that Witches were targets of social circumstance, not just gender.
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