The pulpits and the damned witchcraft in German postils, 1520-1615
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This thesis explores discussion of witchcraft in German postil sermons circulated between 1520 and 1615. The introduction discusses my methodology, changes to historiography between 1900 and present day, and the history of the role of witchcraft in Christianity to the fifteenth century. Chapter one explores the changes to discourse between 1520 and 1560 and concludes that in this period discourse on witchcraft developed from the perspectives of the via antiqua and the via moderna. Ultimately, Lutherans endorsed a providential perspective, which held that witches could do no harm. While Catholics expressed caution discussing witchcraft in public, they ultimately held that all witches were in an explicit pact with Satan and had the power to harm others. Chapter two discusses the later developments of discourse as was related to both religious changes after the Council of Trent and the Schmalkaldic War, as well as changes that occurred as responses to the "Little Ice Age." Lutherans and Catholics both argued that changes to the climate came from an angry God. However, they disagreed on the method through which God expressed his anger. For Lutherans, God did not use secondary causes to inflict suffering; instead, he interfered directly. For their part, Catholics argued that God allowed Satan to share his powers with witches, who could in turn cause suffering. In the conclusion I discuss the limits of this work and the potential future studies that can be explored. Most notably, the work that can be done on the religious responses to climate change.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.