Feminism/The Witchcraze (U.S.) term paper 12072

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The witchcraze of the seventeenth century gave way to much political unrest

and an incredible redistribution of property. The witchcraze was created and

fostered by the political leaders and the church leaders of the day all in the

pursuit of property and position. The witchcraze continued full steam ahead

until laws were passed that put a limit on the personal gains allowable from a

single incident.

There were a select group of people that got rich from the misfortune of

others. It was an uncontained, uncontrolled, and unchallenged exhibition of

political power that was used to dominate the poor and allow for a designed

redistribution of land (some accusations were made simply because their was or

had been a disagreement over borders, inheritance, or because of past family

to family conflicts). This period of history allowed a few selected rich

merchants to get richer and the poor to live their entire lives in fear.

... Meanwhile notaries, copyists, and innkeepers grew rich... . This period

allowed for the design of an organized inquisition, organized system of

torture, and a traveling system of judges that always passed the same

judgment: guilty let them burn.

The promise of property and position led to the false accusations of

many people who through torture signed away their souls and who not only

admitted, but believed (because through the torture they were threatened with

being excommunicated and as a result of not having the promise of salvation in

the afterlife) that the accusations were true. This is obvious through the

reading of some of the church documents of the trials where the accused

individuals actually thanked the inquisitors for trying to save them and their

souls. They were willing to admit anything for the promise of salvation.

Religion played a very large role in the lives of all people during this time

(regardless of denomination: nobody was safe from the accusation of


This period, taken from a feminist view, was a major building block in

the foundation of the modern women s movement. During this time women were

beginning to demand more, they were becoming more learned, and they were on

the verge of a new era. Once you expand the mind it can never be retracted.

These modern beliefs were shaking the foundations of acceptable thought and

the old fashioned ideas and ideals didn t know how to support this modern

movement. Tradition didn t know how to cope with these modern women (and I

speak of women because 80-90% of people accused during the witchcraze were

women) and it seemed logical to the social higher ups to rid themselves of the

problem while it was small and before it could become and intellectual

epidemic. These women set the stage for the drive for gender equality long

before that taboo thought was allowed to permeate their reality. These women

were martyrs, and it does my mind well to know that they did not die in vain.


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