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Witchcraft Trials - Essay Example

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Summary
When one goes through the ideas presented by Innocent VIII (1484), Johannes Nider (1476) and in the excerpt from the Malleus Maleficarum (1486), it cannot be believed that anyone accused of being a witch would have ever received a fair trial. First of all, the Papal Bull issued…
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Witchcraft Trials

Download file to see previous pages... It is based on the “said offences” that the inquisitor could punish any one (1484).
Similarly the Dominican scholar Johannes Nider (1476) has pointed out that even confession or true repentance could not rescue a person accused as a witch from torture and death. For the society, church and individuals who carried out the witch hunt referred to here, the witches were not humans worthy of mercy. For example, the Papal Bull used the generalizing term, evils to describe the so-called witches, when it said it was duty-bound “to prevent the taint of heretical pravity and of other like evils from spreading their infection to the ruin of others” (Innocent VIII, 1484). By giving a blanket authority to the inquisitors to carry out “correcting, imprisoning, punishing, and chastising” against people accused as witches “for their said offences and crimes” (Innocent VIII, 1484). It is notable that in the above instruction, the inquisitors are given total power while the accused are defined very vaguely. Hence it becomes clear that theoretically, any person can become an accused under the slightest of doubt.
From what Nider (1476) has written, it is evident that the “methods of primeval infection” to become a witch were nothing but certain oath taking and renouncing the church. This is a practice of cult formation that has existed always in the history of humanity. Yet this is viewed as an offense punishable by death, that too the most torturous kind, by the witch hunters. When this kind of a mindset exists in a society, and in the minds of its rulers, no person accused as a witch can hope for getting a fair trial. Though Christianity has been known for its focus on repentance and forgiving, Nider (1476) narrated that a man who truly repented and disclosed the methods by which he and his wife were initiated into witch craft, was not spared of death.
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