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Rise Of Witchcraft

            Witchcraft is a phenomenon that has captured the minds of millions since its existence. These so-called witches have caused fear, interest, hatred, widespread panic, and a variety of other emotions in people during the medieval era. The witch craze spread because heresy sharpened the awareness of nonconformists to the medieval Catholic Church. People started to believe in witchcraft in order to explain chance happenings in life and blamed these happenings on the nonconformists, or "witches." People believed in witchcraft against the assertions of the church that it was mere superstition, and later the church began to believe in witchcraft too. (Klaits, 19) But whether witchcraft existed or not, the concept of it dominated the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era. During this time, it is "Estimated over 100,000 to 200,000 people were executed and millions were tortured and terrified." (Russel, 658) .
             Witchcraft has a very fascinating history. Because much of its history is shrouded in superstition and has not properly been recorded, its exact history is hard to explain. It is easier to see witchcraft as a mindset or belief than an organized institution. According to Montague Summers, the author of The History of Witchcraft and Demonology, "witches can be described as heretics and anarchists," most of which follow the chief of demons, also known as the Devil. The belief in witches comes from such documents as the Malleus Maleficarum, a witch-hunt manual that helped to interrogate, prosecute, and torture potential witches during the Inquisition. The church was the main attacker of nonconformists. Not only did the church attack heretics and witches, but other citizens did too, "from the twelfth century on, outsiders came under increasing verbal and physical attack from churchmen, allied secular authorities, and, particularly in the case of the Jews, from the lower strata of the population.

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