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Witchcraft Narratives in GermanyRothenburg, 1561-1652$
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Alison Rowlands

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780719052590

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719052590.001.0001

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The devil’s power to delude: elite beliefs about witchcraft and magic

The devil’s power to delude: elite beliefs about witchcraft and magic

Chapter:
(p.48) 2 The devil’s power to delude: elite beliefs about witchcraft and magic
Source:
Witchcraft Narratives in Germany
Author(s):

Alison Rowlands

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719052590.003.0003

Rothenburg and its hinterland had this restrained pattern of formal prosecution for witchcraft during the early modern period. There was a web of legal, social and cultural factors at popular and elite levels which operated and interacted to deter the inhabitants of the area from accusing their neighbors of witchcraft at law, and to ensure that the allegations of witchcraft that reached the courts rarely led to convictions for the crime and never triggered mass trials. This chapter discusses elite beliefs about witchcraft and explains reasons that the city councilors were unwilling to overstep the boundaries of due legal procedure in their prosecution of alleged witches. Elite beliefs about maleficent or demonic witchcraft were expressed around three themes in early modern Rothenburg: maleficium, or the causing of harm by magical means; the making of pacts with the devil; and the flight to and attendance at witches' dances or sabbats.

Keywords:   elite beliefs, sabbats, devil's power, demonic witchcraft, alleged witches

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