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Vincenzo Lavenia The Alpine Model of Witchcraft The Italian Context in the Early Modern Period by Vincenzo Lavenia In Fernand Braudel was the first to discuss the relationship be- tween mountains and witchcraft in a few famous pages of the second edition of his depiction of the Mediterranean area at the time of Philip II, which were inspired, as acknowledged in a note, by the research of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie.
The Christianization of the mountains, according to the author, was a very slow and difficult process: Sorcerers, witchcraft, primitive magic, and black masses were the flowerings of an ancient cultural subconscious, from which Western civilization could not entirely separate itself.
Later, the debates of the council of Basilea and the scenario of Lake Constance would inspire Formicarius by Johannes Nider ap- prox. In the eyes of Trevor Roper, the witch hunt constituted the ideological and theological invention of an enemy within the Christian city alongside the heretics, Jews, and Muslims.
Later the confessional conflicts, the puritan obsession, and Roman law, especially in northern Europe, would rekindle the persecutions in a context that extended outside of the purely mountain sphere. Indeed, the second witch-hunt would witness the activity of civil and ecclesiastic judges, both Reformed and Catholic, without substantial differences between them3.
Nevertheless, the main nucleus of his interpretation was the idea that the feudal society, from the Late Middle Ages, launched a social war against the mountain world, first in the name of a struggle against heresy Catharism and Waldensianismand then against diabolical witchcraft.
Jeffrey Russell tried to refute this reading, defining it as deterministic, instead shifting the empha- sis to the gradual conversion of crime into heresy as the underlying cause of the witch-hunt5.
Arno Borst countered this with an analysis of the trials conducted by Greyerz in Simmenthal, the oldest Alpine example.
Far from being backward, the Bernese region, according to Borst, had for some time been an area undergoing profound changes, with a lively activity of economic exchanges that generated conflicts and insecurity.
Therefore, the trigger for the burnings was innovation rather than persistence of the antique, also considering the adoption of 3 H.
Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans, Londonp.
Even the early texts discussing the reality of night flight from the early decades of the s were elaborated within this same geographic space, which includes mainly the central-western Alpine chain.
This becomes obvious simply by leafing through the collection put together by Agostino Paravicini Bagliani and his research group inwhich includes texts by Hans Fruend, Nider himself, Claude Tholosan, Martin Le Franc, and the pages known as the Errores Gazariorum.
The judges and inquisi- tors exchanged stories and experiences, convincing themselves of the existence of a sect of male and female Satan worshipers unknown in previous centuries and at the time of the Canon Episcopi. As this author notes, before reaching the fifteenth century there was a long history of judicial ste- reotypes that did not feature the Alps as their primary context9.
Even more extensive, to the point of being Eurasian and pluri-millennial, is the spatial and temporal scope of the book by Carlo Ginzburg.
For Brian Levack, rather than a mountain phenomenon, witch hunting was a rural phenomenon, while for Wolfgang Behringer the climate was considered more significant than the orography.
According to this German historian, it is the Little Ice Age that explains the origin of the explosion of persecutory fury in the Early Modern Period It is outside the present scope to trace out the complete historiographical sketch of witch hunting, but one aspect deserves note: This is not a complete novelty, considering for example the school that developed out of the research of Keith Thomas13, but after the volume by Robin Briggs the conflicts arising out of the fear of evil have become a key cipher for understanding the social nature of the crime of witchcraft and the dynamics whereby trials were initiated, often originating from village courts What can be added to this panorama in the light of the Italian context?
Firstly, it is important to underline that the main obstacle to understand- ing witch hunting in the Alpine chain on a judicial level—which is the one under examination here—but also as regards beliefs is the absence of comprehensive and comparative research into the phenomenon, neither for the Late Middle Ages, nor for the Modern Age, and there is not even 10 See C.
A Global History, Oxford However, a volume by Michael Tavuzzi does at least provide a provisional picture of the activities in northern Italy of the Delegated Papal Inquisition from tobut only as regards religious judges belonging to the Dominican Order nothing similar was conducted for the Franciscans.
This was the area of the first Italian witch hunt, for which the available data sug- gest hundreds of victims, even though the figure remains imprecise It is even more complicated to trace the story of the second witch-hunt, start- ing from around Non-Italian historiography and general summary studies treat it only briefly, preferring to concentrate on the Pyrenees, France, the Lorraine, Switzerland, and the Imperial zone, where there were effectively thousands of deaths.
Numerous jurisdictions also operated in Italy and the Alpine chain, but even today these are relegated to a few pages, despite the numerous deaths in the Italian scenario including some important cases, as will be discussed below.
What is the cause of this historiographical void? The answer, possibly, is simple.World Civilization essays What are the major defining characteristics of a civilization?
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World Civilization Book Report Essay Eric Grimes Hsiang-Wang Liu World Civilizations III November 11, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations Why Some Are So Rich and Some Are So Poor The book, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why some are so rich and some are so poor, discusses that the characteristics of a society’s cultural history .
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