History of Witchcraft:
A Part of the Community
The medieval period refers to the medieval age time period between the 5th and 15th century. Medieval witchcraft, common sorcery, and folk magic with roots from the ancient period was heavily practiced during this time. As a result, it created several roles such as wise women, who would create herbal remedies and cast spells for their neighbors and communities. They were valuable members of their community.
However with the rise of Christianity, negative connotations and propaganda began to surface. St. Augustine of Hippo stating that all pagan magic and religion were invented by the devil. With the intention of lure people away from the “truth”. He vocalized that the practice of magick and witchcraft was an “error of the pagans”, and mainly dismissed the practice and allegations of witchcraft.
In 820, the Bishop of Lyon and others began to vocalize to the general public that the practice of medieval witchcraft was “unchristian”. Charlemagne, the 8th and 9th Century king of the Franks, decreed that the burning of supposed witches was a pagan custom that should itself be punishable by death. During this time the Christian church began to influence the law and created anti-witchcraft laws. Magic became a crime against society and a crime against their god.
By the 13th century St. Thomas Aquinas, the leading Christian theologian at the time preached that the world was full of demons leading them to temptation. Stating that there was association between sex and witchcraft. And not long after, the Inquisitions began. This was an effort by the Catholic church to find and punish “heretics” and force them to change their beliefs. Pope Gregory the IX assigned people to carry out inquisitors around 1230. Pope Innocent IV authorized the use of torture in 1252. And eventually, the secular courts and Christian churches became involved with the persecution of witches. Leading to the witch trials and hunting of witches in the Early Modern Period.