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Witch-hunting in Eichstätt

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Chapter Summary

Between 1590 and 1631 there were three phases of witch persecution in the prince-bishopric of Eichstätt: from 1590 to 1592; in 1603; and between 1617 and 1631. Witchcraft episodes in Eichstätt were sporadic before 1590. Over the preceding century, there had been just six executions for witchcraft and the exorcism of Apollonia Geiβlbrecht. In 1590, however, the districts of Spalt and possibly Abenberg experienced an outbreak of witch-hunting which resulted in the executions of nineteen women in that year and perhaps a further seven over the next two years. One of the more recent explanations for the emergence of witch-hunting from the late sixteenth century focuses on the 'Little Ice Age' and the crises related to it. Among the witch commissioners, therefore, it seems that Protestantism, witchcraft, sin, superstition and irregular lifestyles were regarded as overlapping and complementary threats which needed to be rooted out together.

Keywords: Apollonia Geiβlbrecht; Eichstätt; little ice age; Protestantism; witch-hunting



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