The Rise of the Witchcraft Craze in 17th Century Britain Essay

The Rise of the Witchcraft Craze in 17th Century Britain Essay

Length: 2045 words (5.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Rise of the Witchcraft Craze in 17th Century Britain

Accusations of witchcraft date back to 900 AD, but killing following
accusation reached a fever pitch in the late 16th century Europe, and
late 17th century Britain. Germany and Scotland were the areas that
were most heavily purged, with an estimated 4000 witches dying in
Scotland and 26 000 dying in Germany (Gibbons). The Inquisition in
Britain happened against a backdrop of new ideas competing with
established traditions which created a sense of confusion and
religious hysteria amongst the general population. A number of
theories have developed from historians as to what sparked the
witchcraft craze; ideas of the Reformation and rise of Puritanism have
been published alongside beliefs of the witch hunt being a
'gendercide' (Katz).

The transformation of the established church in Britain alongside the
rise of Puritanism created a sense of disorder and fear. The church
was an integral part of the British society in the 17th century, and
the Reformation which featured the split of the Catholic church under
Henry VIII provoked feelings of uncertainty amongst the general
population. The weakness of the established church had been revealed,
generating disunity among the highly conservative and religious
population. Nachman Ben-Yehuda describes the effect of this
transformation in relation to the witchcraze: "Where the Catholic
Church was weakest {they} experienced a virulent witch craze. Where
the Catholic Church was strong hardly any witch craze occurred". This
correlates to the figures for Italy, Spain and Portugal, countries
where the church was strong, having much lower fi...

... middle of paper ...

ignorant and "religiously indoctrinated" public perhaps had been more
stable, the craze would never have reached the level it did.
Identification of witchcraft with Hopkins and Stearne personalised the
witch hunt, and most of the population used the charges of sorcery as
a way of ridding their communities of evil, whether to create a
Puritan 'land of saints' or as a scapegoat to explain the frightening
scientific and religious reforms. The craze was allowed to develop
because of ignorance and fear, but it is certain that the reason it
started was religion. Because of the Papal Bull of 1484, the
religiously commissioned "Malleus Maleficorum", Hopkins and Stearne's
puritan fundamentalism and the general indoctrination of religion into
society legitimised the hunt in a time of religious transformation and

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Great Britain Rise as the Global Leader of the 18th Century

- When examining the bloody and often tumultuous history of Great Britain prior to their ascent to power, one would not have predicted that they would become the global leader of the 18th century. Prior to the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, the Spanish and the Holy Roman Empire held much of the power in Europe. Only with the suppression of Catholicism and the development of national sovereignty did Great Britain have the opportunity to rise through the ranks. While much of continental Europe was seeking to strengthen their absolute monarchies and centralized style of governing, in the 17th and 18th centuries Great Britain was making significant political changes that r...   [tags: British History]

Powerful Essays
787 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on The Rise Of Great Britain

- The rise of Great Britain began in the early 16th century and lasted until the mid-19th Century. There were several key factors in Britain’s rapid growth as an international empire. Britain 's development at this time had an important international and military dimension. An empire based on sea power, commerce and naval dominance consolidated British overseas colonization and trade. Three key factors facilitated Britain’s rise to power, the first is warfare, the second is colonization and the third is trade....   [tags: British Empire, Colonialism, United Kingdom]

Powerful Essays
1852 words (5.3 pages)

Perceptions of the 18th Century Novel in Ian Watt’s Book, The Rise of The Novel

- Perceptions of the 18th Century Novel in Ian Watt’s Book, The Rise of The Novel The eighteenth century novel was one that changed the way novels were written in many different ways. In reading Ian Watt's book, "The Rise of The Novel," quite a few things were brought to my attention concerning the eighteenth century novel; not only in how it was written and what went into it, but how readers perceived it. This essay will look into Ian Watt's perceptions on the eighteenth century novel and how it changed from previous literature....   [tags: Rise Novel]

Powerful Essays
869 words (2.5 pages)

The Rise of Democracy in Britain Essay

- The Rise of Democracy in Britain The dynamic course of the nineteenth century set off a revolution within the realm of British politics. Foreign influence and domestic transformation created a situation where individual interests were forced into the public sphere for political reconciliation. The shift towards democratic government was largely unscripted because Britain had no written constitution to guide its path. Thus, Britain’s pursuit of democracy was not prescribed by any rules or written precedents....   [tags: British Politics Papers]

Powerful Essays
1424 words (4.1 pages)

How Did Great Britain Lose its Power? Essay

- At the height of its empire, Great Britain held dominion and colonial settlements on every continent in the world. By 1763, Great Britain dominated the eastern half of North America, and established colonies off the west coast of Africa, India, and the Philippine islands. The British Empire achieved dominance through industry, economic trading, and its navy, which gave Great Britain a superior advantage over competing sovereignties for three hundred years. Even though the largest British colonies revolted in 1775 and launched a successful revolution, Great Britain continued to grow through the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century....   [tags: Colonialism, Great Britain, superpowers, history, ]

Powerful Essays
2003 words (5.7 pages)

Essay about Britain at the Turn of the Century

- Britain at the Turn of the Century Society: Although valuable social reform had taken place during the years leading up to and in the early 20th Century, this period was a time of sharp conflict between employers and workers. Reforms such as National Insurance and Old Age Pensions could not disguise the fact that there had been a rise in the cost of living. Wages fell behind prices, and Britain's industrial supremacy was coming to an end, reflected by an increase in unemployment....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
508 words (1.5 pages)

Exploring Britain's 19th Century Population Increase Essay

- Between the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a rapid increase in population, one which still perplexes historians today. However, by using evidence, sources and theories, many have deducted some foremost reasons for the expansion of families, and these reasons fall into two main categories: the fall in death rates, and the rise in birth rates. In this essay I will study and expand on the pros and cons of two points in each category, and therefore conclude what I believe caused the sudden upsurge of people in 19th century Britain....   [tags: British history, ]

Powerful Essays
636 words (1.8 pages)

The Rise Of The 19th Century Essay

- The 18th Century was a time period marked by drastic changes to the European landscape. Two of the biggest powers in Europe, England and France, traversed this period of upheaval very differently. England, mainly due to more careful leadership and more gifted advisers, made it through the period more or less unscathed, while France saw itself changed dramatically, due mostly to the ineptitude of King Louis XVI in the latter part of the century. King Louis XVI ascended to France 's throne in 1774, and he inherited a nation teetering on the edge of collapse....   [tags: French Revolution, Louis XVI of France]

Powerful Essays
1318 words (3.8 pages)

Britain in the Eighteenth Century Essay

- Britain in the Eighteenth Century In the eighteenth century, Britain was a very different country, both industrially and agriculturally. Today's major cities such as London and Birmingham were a fraction of the size that they are today. There were no major factories, with the eighteenth century equivalent running on power generated from waterwheels. There were no roads, just dirt tracks, and all farming was done manually, with help from horses pulling carts instead of machinery....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
1499 words (4.3 pages)

Children in 19th Century Britain Essay

- Children in 19th Century Britain 1. Children didn’t live very long. There were a number of obstacles they had to get past first. Mother’s would smother them at birth so they didn’t have to be looked after. If this didn’t happen then they may be sent to a “Baby Farm” where a woman would look after your child for 5 pounds. Parents would never have to see them again. But the woman would starve the babies so she didn’t have to look after them. If they stayed at home, they’d probably have to share a room with their family....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
1170 words (3.3 pages)