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The witches

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Chapter Summary

The explanation for the predominance of women among the witch defendants lies instead in the persecutors' perceptions of what characteristics a witch-figure might possess, and the nature of the defendants' responses to questions posed at particular points in the interrogation process. These same responses also led to two unexpected patterns of prosecution: the high proportion of witch-suspects drawn from the political craft elites of the town of Eichstätt; and the significant number of men denounced as witch-accomplices, but never arrested. This chapter shows how and why these patterns emerged. It also shows in detail how interrogations were conducted, something which most historians of witchcraft episodes fail to do. The questions which constitute the Eichstätt interrogatory used from 1617 reflect the gender and spiritual emphases of standard demonological texts, rather than the putative superstitions or vengeful preoccupations of the local population.

Keywords: Eichstätt interrogatory; gender; political craft elites; standard demonological texts; witchcraft



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