Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

Witch-hunting in the World Context

On Wednesday February 10, 2021
Professor Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol

Discover why the notorious medieval and early modern European witch-hunts took place and what made them different from witch-hunts elsewhere in the world. Find out why they stopped and the impact have they had on witchcraft beliefs and human rights in the present world.

The story of witch-hunting takes us on a journey through the civilisations of the ancient world and early Christianity to a change in mood in late medieval European Christian times. This is when people stopped perceiving witchcraft as a minor problem affecting individuals and started seeing it as a satanic conspiracy directed against the whole of society.

Europe is unique in making this transition and viewing witchcraft as a demonic form of religion. It is also unique in moving from a profound fear of witchcraft to a disbelief in it, officially at least.

How this change came about and how far that fear still presents a problem to the modern world, will be the central issues of this lecture.

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