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The European Witch-craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

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Heresy is the belief in the existence of witchcraft, which was for many years considered a pagan superstition or a fantasy that had its origin in dreams. However, since the beginning of the thirteenth century, that belief was considered superstitious nonsense. Witchcraft is a true phenomenon and was practiced in some parts of Europe. This was a legacy of the local religions that were not fully Christian in nature. The folk religion believed in the existence of supernatural powers and evil spirits on earth. These witchcraft beliefs were used to ward off any misfortune that was expected to occur.

The heresy trials are among those things that led to the development of the capitalist mentality which ideology was ownership of private property and wealth. Those who were previous owners of the property became beggars requesting for charity. The widows were excluded from feasts. There were social injustices manifested when women became scapegoats for all the evils that took place in the society, such as deaths, animal diseases, failure of crops and many other evils that befall the community. It was not until1484 that Pope Innocent VIII issued a bill that made witchcraft a form of heresy and hence empowered the inquisitors to eradicate it from the Christendom.

Witch hunting came up as part of the ruling class offensive deals to respond to the struggle in previous centuries between classes and the crisis that resulted from the accumulation of the ruling class. The witch hunt was practiced by some sections of the ruling class around whole Europe. The practice was done to control reproduction in Europe, to confiscate property, demonstrate beggars to enforce social control over people and their gender roles and to exclude women from the political, economic, and social activities.

The witch trials witches were meant to break up the old forms of communal life and to condemn some of the traditional practices. This is a weapon that was used to hinder the restructuring of social and economic development.

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