Announcing a new Meetup for "Ideas that shaped history" discussion group!
What: The Witch Craze in Europe from the 1400s to the 1700s
When: Sunday, April 11, 2010 1:30 PM
Price: $2.00 per person
949 N. Hill Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91104
At this meeting, we?ll look at one of history?s dark, tragic pages--a craze of prosecuting witches in Europe, which started in the late 15th century and continued through approximately the end of the 17th ? beginning of 18th century.
This period (1400s to the 1700s) is usually celebrated as the Renaissance--a great rebirth of arts and culture after the thousand-year slumber of the Middle Ages. During this period, such celebrated artists as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and many others lived and worked. In addition, the 17th century is celebrated as a century of scientific revolution. It was the time when Francis Bacon wrote ?Novum Organonum?, laying a foundation of modern science; when Johannes Kepler was working on his laws of planetary motion; and when Isaac Newton wrote ?Principia Mathematica?.
Yet, this much celebrated period has a dark underbelly--the prosecution and killing of people accused of ?witchcraft?. This accusation seems absurd and even laughable to us today, but it was taken very seriously in the late Middle Ages and the early Modern period. Historians disagree how many people were accused of being ?witches? and executed, but the estimates range from 60,000 to 100,000. The majority of those executed were women--most of them elderly and poor, even though there were some notable exceptions, such the case of Urbain Grandier, a Catholic priest who was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1634 in Loudon, France. In many cases, the confessions of presumed ?witches? were extracted through brutal physical torture; in others, through psychological pressure which caused victims of prosecution to ?confess? under the prolonged questioning of their tormentors. The execution of a convicted ?witch? became a public spectacle and at the same time brought the community together, giving people a sense of a shared purpose.
This topic is of special interest to us, as it raises so many interesting questions: Why did this happen? Was the witch craze just one of many examples of human cruelty and irrationality, which has always been with us, simply taking a different form throughout history? Or was it something peculiar to the late medieval and early modern period--a result of the unique social conditions of that time?
Please come and join us in this fascinating discussion. Bring your opinion, however bewitching it may be--but be prepared to defend it with rational arguments.
The meeting will take place on the second Sunday in April, 4/11/10, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Laura?s home. Please bring some snacks or juice to share.
To cover the cost of running this meet-up, a donation of $2 is respectfully requested.
Learn more here:http://www.meetup.com/Ideas-that-shaped-history-discussion-group/calendar/13024484/