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Honour And Social Control In Witchcraft Trials

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Chapter Summary

Eighteenth-century Swedish society was built on a stratified system of honour which could be politically challenged in formal arenas like the court, or through informal channels of gossip. This chapter argues that trials of witchcraft reflected these interlocking mechanisms of social control. The influence of the clergy extended beyond the court and therefore it is necessary to describe the wider range of ecclesiastical initiatives intended to control magical practices and popular morality. The chapter discusses the narrative structures of accusations, witnesses? testimonies and defences, and briefly describes the range of sorcery cases brought before the Appellate Court of Göta. For an understanding of the role the local pastor played in witchcraft trials it is important to consider in more detail the social background of eighteenth-century clergy. The chapter finally focuses on examples from the province of Skåne.

Keywords: Appellate Court of Göta; ecclesiastical initiatives; eighteenth-century clergy; eighteenth-century Swedish society; local pastor; magical practices; province of Skåne; social control; sorcery cases; witchcraft trials

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