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Derek Newhouse Mr. W.

Chris Powers Western Civilization

During the 1480's C.E. the church and state in Europe decide it was their duty to purge the lands of men and women who practiced witch craft. The church had a new leader elected in 1483, Pope John XIII of Alexandria. The times were hard and trying, people and the state listened to the church. They were trying to please god in order to lighten the burden and hardships of everyday life. The church found it their sacred duty to rid the world of witches. The church took on this duty because of the bible passage Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live Exodus 22:18. Other reasons witch hunting became popular were the lack of science and education. Natural disasters, birthing and conceiving problems, plagues and disease were unexplainable to most and must be the work of evil. The church may have been losing members due plagues, general poverty, and difficult times. People may have starting losing their faith in god and turn away from the church. The church blamed witches for the unexplained things and the harder the church looked for witchcraft the more it found. The church appointed men to hunt down evil doers called inquisitors. These inquisitors were to use all means necessary to get confessions out of supposed witches. The inquisitors came up with their own ways of finding out the truth. They wrote down these methods of getting someone to confess in book they called Witch Hammer. The book told of how to go about questioning a suspect. They suggested lying to them while torturing them in order to get them to confess. The book recommended torturing in stages, each stage precessed by laying out the tools of torture in front of the accused. These actions would help insure the truth was being spoken at time of confession. The accused could be anyone, man or woman. If someone were antisocial they may be looked upon with suspicion. Often signs of witchcraft were subtle and maybe missed if not for the 1

weary eye. The death of a foal, people, fruits, cattle, sheep, animals of every kind, planting fields not yielding, harvests going bad and illness were all signs of witchcraft. The same things that plagued the people during that time, has plagued mankind everywhere since the dawning of time. It was a time where people were accusing each other of witchcraft for personal gain. Personal gain in the eyes of others and the church. If someone put a spell on you and you accused them of being a witch and they were found guilty, their house and belongings were now yours. This could lead to false accusations that could easily get a person killed. Since the church felt it was their solemn duty to rid the world of witches, they thought of it as pleasing god. Only through the church could you find salvation and forgiveness. They alone held the body of Christ and the power to absolve sin. They believed to bible left instructions on dealing with witches. The church thought witches to be dangerous and harmful. Witches could kill and ruin people animals and crops. Since life was so difficult at the time, and evil abundant, pleasing god seemed most important. It was important for the church and people to blame. Sometimes people would try to stand up for the accused or defend them from accusation of being a witch. Almost everyone loves their mother, child or siblings. If one of them were being tortured in front of you you might try to come to their aid. That aid being a witness of character or the taking up of arms. There were many innocent people being tortured to death or killed during the trails. People that interfered with the church, were interfering with god's work. Even Christians would confess of practicing witchcraft with such methods of inquiry. If they did not fully confess they would not receive forgiveness from the church and would not be granted passage into heaven. The only way to salvation would be to repent for all sins, and have last rights performed at your death by the church. This make make young men like the one in The Ant Hill confess to a crime they did not commit. A swift death sentence was at least an end, a promise of being 2

pain free. The main reason the church resorted to using torture in cases of witchcraft was is kept people honest, or so they thought. If they were in fact a witch they would not openly admit it without persuasion. Witchcraft was a crime against nature, god and the church, so the evildoers must be found. The truth must be found, and evil fought. Crime was punished harshly and criminals were made examples out of publicly. The procedure followed by the inquisitor when torturing a suspect was to strip the accused, or have women strip them, if accused were a woman. The inquisitors took caution in case the witch had put a curse or spell over her clothing. The inquisitors then lay out the instruments of torture in front of the accused, torture them while lying to them that they will stop or set them free if they tell all. If the inquisitor did not feel like the confession was full or good enough, he would then lay out a new set of torture devices in front of them to be used. They would then ask for confession and use the new tools. If a judge saw fit and they most often did, they could condemn the accused to constant torture. Although they would take breaks from the torturing, the inquisitors would have guards watch the accused in case they tried to commit suicide. They believe the devil would appear before the accused and talk the person into taking their life. After all a continuously tortured person would only commit suicide at the hands of the devil. The Witch Hammer suggests that lying is only coaxing the truth out of accused. An inquisitor might promise to spare their life if they give a full confession, then throw them in jail to live off bread and water for the rest of their life. They also might later burn them after a short period of time. The judge might say he would spare their life for a confession, only to turn the case over to another judge. The new judge would then put them to death.