Wednesday 9 January 2008

How Witchfinders Arise

They happened from time to time. They were curious times.
After a thousand years of Europe being a place of general conceptual agreement, belief that Jesus Christ, second person of the trinity, had placed in the hands of the papacy his authority to judge over man, that paradigm was the subject of one of the fiercest ideological conflicts of all time.

The seventeenth century was a century when people literally, fought what they believed was the ideological war between God and Satan.
Both sides were convinced.

One side WAS God's side. One wasn't.
Both sides were convinced it was them.

A time of change. A time when serious thinking took place about the very nature of the universe, of man's future, of power and the right to wield it.

And in England the King and Parliament even went war. Kings! At WAR with their OWN Parliaments!

Imagine to live then!
Armageddon cannot be far off.
The antichrist has already been born somewhere.

The time of the Kingdom of God is at end. At the end of the century, in the year 1700, each side believes that will it battle Armageddon and win.
Nostradamus, incidently, believed it. He was buried with a plaque with that year engraved on it.

So the stakes are upped. The devil's minions are preparing.

The devil's minions are worming their way in, to prepare for the Anti-Christ.

The Witches.

So watch out for strange old Catholic women living in the woods in total poverty.

And as King fought Parliament, Matthew Hopkins decided he just had a knack for spotting witches. He was good.
Spot a witch ANYWHERE, Matthew Hopkins.
Built a reputation on it, old Matthew Hopkins.

Out of 200 Witches executed in England between the law of 1563 making Witchcraft IN ITSELF a Capital Offence (up till then Witchcraft was only a crime if you used it to commit a crime, like Murder or something. Lousy evidence, but that was all) until 1738, when it stopped being a Capital Offence, 90 of them were convicted by Matthew Hopkins.

Matthew Hopkins, a man with a mission. You couldn't fool him. If you were a witch, Hopkins would find you out.

And did Matthew Hopkins actually believe in witches himself, I wonder?

Or did he not much care, just believed it out of convenience, because he liked all this authority?

I guess we'll never know.


Anonymous said...

I have also heard that people were accused of being "witches" because "witches" had valuable property and after the "witches" were put to death, the accuser would inherit the property. RE: Salem, MA Witch Hunts.

Anonymous said...

Cheeky, but very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Mathew Hopkins certainly found his niche, his piece of political power and ran with it. He may not have been a king, but he made sure that as many people treated him like one as he could get.

And today it's terrorists, the new disciples of the anti Christ. Who or what will take on that mantle next, I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

we still hunt for "witches" today... anyone who goes against the indoctrination is a "witch"

Anonymous said...

And Mathew Hopkins was ... self appointed perchance ?

Anonymous said...

I do now quite a few real witches... they are totally harmless. But I am assuming this post was more allegorical, shall we say..

Anonymous said...

Alexys- That's quite a good point. Yes, personal jealoust was possibly quite often a factor.

jmb- I just think it's good sometimes to study human motivation, and the witch hunt craze of the sevententh century, was certainly an interesting phenomenon. In those days, there was no worse accusation you could throw at someone, so much so that people were hanged on the wildest accusations.

Like witness testimony the accused had made the accuser vomit nails, etc.

And so often those prosecuting half believed their accusations, because they really beelieved that a witch COULD cause these things. Better safe than sorry, I think they often thought. Can't let a witch walk free, so guilty or not, let's not take a chance.

Eric- We've always had them, yes. Early Christians, then Jews, Heretics, Catholics, Jews again, Communists, Immigrants, Communists, then Muslims.
It suits a certain frame of mind.

Unite people against some thing, use that as a cause because you can't think of a POSITIVE one.

That's the mind of the Witchfinder.

Raffi- You're a perceptive man indeed. But they accused Christ of working with devils, as they did all the Apostles.

Persecutors are just persecutors. Bottom line is, they're not that fussed.

E-K- He was indeed. He did indeed create his own jobtitle, Witchfinder General.That grandiose title be which he is known, was, like with General Custer, completely self-appointed.

Mutley- Yes, I think I'm a harmless witch as well.

Allegorical? No! Bit of a human dynamics study. How these crazes get going and the people who ride on them.

Anonymous said...

Your understanding of history is much better than mine but I always think of the persecution of witches as Christianity doing its best to rid the world of the last remnants of an earlier religeon. Another example of how monotheistic religeons have inbuilt tendancy to a complete lack of tolerance and heirachical power structures.

Anonymous said...

Intriguing piece.
I bet that while it was begun out of convenience, Mr. Hopkins may have even come to believe his own hype.
We can convince ourselves of anything, if necessary.

Anonymous said...

The trouble is, everyone thinks theor "God" is on their side...