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Witches at Satan's Court: Using the Inquisition to Suppress Dissent & Outsiders

Witchcraft and the Inquisition

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Witchcraft and the Inquisition: Using the Inquisition to Suppress Dissent & Outsiders

Witchcraft and the Inquisition: Using the Inquisition to Suppress Dissent & Outsiders

Source: Jupiter Images

As the Inquisition proceeded through the 1400s, its focus shifted from Jews and heretics towards so-called witches. Although Pope Gregory IX had authorized the killing of witches back in the 1200s, the fad just didn't catch on. In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull declaring that witches did indeed exist and thus it became a heresy to believe otherwise. This was quite a reversal because in 906 the Canon Episocopi, a church law, declared that belief in the existence and operation of witchcraft was heresy.

The additional persecution of anything which resembled feminine religiosity went to interesting lengths in that devotion to Mary became suspect. Today the figure of Mary is both popular and important in the Catholic church, but to the Inquisition it was a possible sign of overemphasizing the feminine aspect of Christianity. In the Canary Islands, Aldonca de Vargas was reported to the Inquisition for nothing more than smiling at hearing mention of Mary.

As a result of this, church authorities tortured and killed thousands of women, and not a few men, in an effort to get them to confess that they flew through the sky, had sexual relations with demons, turned into animals, and engaged in various sorts of black magic. The image here depicts what Christians imagined went on at a court of witches where Satan presided.

People typically fear that which they don't understand, so witches were doubly damned: they were feared because they were allegedly agents of Satan seeking to undermine Christian society and they were feared because no one really knew what witches did or how. In the place of real knowledge or information, Christian leaders made things up and created stories which were certain to cause people to hate and fear witches even more.

People trusted their religious and political leaders to provide them with accurate information, but in reality the "information" provided was simply whatever furthered their leaders religious and political goals. Creating an enemy of out witches served the goal of increased religious and political cohesion because people would want to draw closer together in order to confront the enemy who wanted to destroy them. Isn't that ultimately more important than whether the stories were true or not?

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