Slavik, Joey (jas8567)

The 16th century marked a time of transition within Europe from the Medieval Ages to The Renaissance. Europe was beginning to move away from feudal society into a more balanced social structure. Art and creative thinking were hallmarks of this era, leaving many Europeans stuck in a world lacking science and logical reasoning. At the end of the 16th century Christianity was becoming one of the most prominent religions and dominating forces within Europe. During this time protestant Christianity became increasingly popular. While previous sects of Christianity and older pagan religions of Europe shrugged off the idea of witchcraft and black magic as being a fantasy, Protestant Christianity viewed the idea of witches as being a very real danger. Protestants believed that witches, who were typically women, had made a pilgrimage to a Black Sabbath, where obscene rites were performed and love was made to the Devil himself to gain magical powers. Witches were often accused with no proof or evidence of actual witchcraft, but were often women who upset societal institutions, most notably the institution of Christian marriage. Such perversions bore the penalty of being burned alive at the stake.

The shift towards a predominantly Protestant Christian society marks an ideological and cultural change. Protestants rejected the Pope, who at the time was considered the voice of God, this put into effect a shift from uniform, progressive Catholicism to radical Protestant ideology, which was centered around the local community, not the Pope in the Vatican, which often led to sensationalism and extremity. The witch trials of Europe also showed an ideological change on the views of the genders. In the Medieval Era women were often romanticized as courtly ladies and fair maidens, more often than not the sinister figure in folklore from this era is depicted as an old man. Protestant Christianity, however, follows the example set in the Bible by the story of Adam and Eve; that women are easily tempted by sin and evil and therefore more likely to carry out Satan’s bidding. This is a calling card of a society that utilizes absolutely no logic or reasoning, but instead bases their belief and action out of ages old superstition and a fear propagated by the Church of eternal damnnation. The fact that women who were outspoken about their oppression within their society were more often than not the ones who were accused of witchcraft exemplifies a society that wishes to continue class oppression.

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