Religion and popular thought regarding witchcraft constantly took a progression shift in terms of conjuring up paranoia and creating mass hysteria. This would place a lot of people in danger, as the slightest indiscretion was counts for suspicion. In this article, you will learn some of the viewpoints stirring during this time period.
313: The conversion of Emperor Constantine takes place and Christianity is given the seal of approval as official toleration by the Roman Empire.
314: Canon 24 of the Council of Ancyra creates a stipulation surrounding five years of penance for those thought to have consulted the help of a magician. The offense was also associated with the participation of paganism.
785: In the case of “sorcerers,” their status in society was lessened to that of serfdom , a decision by the Council of Paderborn. Additionally, they were also transferred to the service of the Church.
906: Popular thoughts concerning witchcraft arise in a document titled De ecclesiasticis disciplines, which pushes the idea that priests possess the duty to “instruct the people that these things are absolutely untrue and that such imaginings are planted in the minds of misbelieving folk, not by a Divine spirit, but by the spirit of evil.”
1080: The scare factor linked to witches was so strong that they were blamed for a great deal of catastrophes that affected their paranoid and superstition neighbors. It got so bad that Pope Gregory VII was moved to pen a letter to King Harold of Denmark forbidding the act of witches being put to death upon the assumption that they were responsible for causing crops to wither, storms to attack, and pestilence.
1225: In Germany, the “Sachsenspiegel” was put to use, a secular law code that assigned the fit punishment for witchcraft as being served a death sentence full of fire. During the German Middle Ages, the book become of the utmost importance when it came to law and legal codes. Parts of the book were still used up until 1900. Not only did it showcase German law, but also served as early examples for German writing. Within the book, two branches of law were explained: feudal (identifies the relationship between various estates and affairs, such as electing a king) and common (the law of free people or “legal” individuals, like farmers).
1258: The term “manifest heresy” is born thanks to Pope Alexander IV, who stood by the words “The Inquisitors, deputed to investigate heresy, must not intrude into investigations of divination or sorcery without knowledge of manifest heresy involved.” Manifest heresy referred to acts, such as offering sacrifices, praying at the altars of idols, consulting demons and mingling in public with people who are known heretics.
1273: Thomas Aquinas (a Dominican monk) makes the argument that demons really do exist and that they attempt to guide people into giving into their temptations. He is known for tying the practice of witchcraft and sex to one another. His view was that demons not only desired to satisfy their own lusty pleasures, but also enjoying influencing men to fall victim to their own.