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Euro-civlization - Essay Example

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1)How could you explain the phenomenon of the witch-craze and what does it tell us about the relationship between elite and popular culture, the confessional state, and the breakdown of community in early Modern Europe
The so-called "Witch Craze" in Europe lasted about two hundred years from 1450-1650…
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Download file to see previous pages Thus Pope Boniface VIII was tried posthumously for apostasy, murder and sodomy. The Templars were tried as Devil-Invoking heretics. Anyone who could actually read so-called witchcraft texts was often suspected of being in league with the Devil merely because they were literate. Thus the elite were in some way condemned by the spread of a popular culture of fear regarding witchcraft.
The "Caroline Code", the basic law code of the Holy Roman Empire (1532) imposed heavy penalties for witchcraft. As society became more literate (due mostly to the invention of the Printing Press in the 1440s), increasing numbers of books and tracts fuelled the witch fears. More people were becoming literate, books were cheaper to print and thus became available in greater numbers and were within reach of more of the population. Witchcraft was thus more likely to occur within the logic of the Witch Craze mindset.
A sense of community, both within the wide context of countries and within local areas, was starting to break down because of the growth in a peculiar kind of paranoia. In 1630 the nuns of Loudun provided an interesting view of the Witch Craze and the extremes to which it could go. The nuns conspired to accuse Father Urbain Grandier of witchcraft by faking symptoms of possession and torment. They feigned convulsions, rolled and gibbered on the ground, and accused Grandier of indecencies. Grandier was convicted and burned at the stake. But after his death, and thus after the plot had succeeded, the symptoms of the nuns only grew worse, and they became more and more sexual in nature. This shows the degree of mania and insanity present in such witch trials. Community had often broken down into a series of groups that were always suspicious of others and afraid of being accused themselves.
The breakdown of community reflected the wide rift that occurred during the period between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics often accused Protestants of witchcraft, such as when the Jesuits pursued them in Austria for a hundred years after 1560. Protestants in turn did the same, such as occurred during Henry VIII's reign in England in the 1500's. Thus "witch" was used convenient label that could be used as a tool against one's enemies, political, cultural or personal.

2) Language itself-as I have so often mentioned- is a primary source of information about its author's attitudes towards phenomenon described. Do a literary deconstruction of Las Casas' language by making two lists of metaphors- one for Spaniards, the other for Indians- as these appear in his text. It is the tension between theses two sets of images which creates the dynamism in this text. Pay special attention to gender as you do this. Who is masculine, who is feminine and what are the implications thereof
Consider the following section from Los Casas' description of the Spanish treatment of the Indians in Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies (1542):
Yet into this sheepfold, into this land of meek outcasts there came some Spaniards who immediately behaved like ravening wild beasts, wolves, tigers, or lions that had been starved for many days. And Spaniards have behaved in no other way during tla! past forty years, down to the present time, for they are still acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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