20 August, 2007

Walk in the neighborhood.

A little evening walk.

Bryggen in Bergen, the picture is taken from Nordnes.

Witch stone.
This is a memorial for the 350 witches who was burned to death in the witch-process, without law and court. The priests sentence them to die.

In our time we may wonder what motivated the extensive witch hunts, where an estimate of more than 50 000 people in Europe and Northern America – mainly women – were tortured and killed. The Church made its standings and its actions legitimate through the book Malleus Maleficarum – the Witch Hammer – written in 1486 by the South German Inquisitor Heinrich Krammer and Professor of Theology in Cologne Jacob Sprenger. The book was used as a manual for witch hunting inquisitors.

Mass hysteria and hatred towards women have been launched as possible explanations to why the women were executed. But we should explain the witch hunts by trying to enter the minds of medieval people. What was their perception of witches and magicians? They really, truly believed in their existence, and that they in fact were accomplices of Satan. In order to maintain God’s order these witches and magicians must be executed. Probably these people were mostly wise women or practicing midwives with knowledge and ideas about diseases and healing processes. They were often in difficult positions; no matter if the patient died or was healed – either way it signified powers out of the ordinary.

In Bergen Mary Geith was convicted and burnt as a witch on Nordnes in 1615. Mary had paid another woman to shipwreck a vessel with many people on board. The woman who had done the deed for money, had her neck wrung in the basement of the Town Hall, supposedly by Satan himself!

The witch hunts decreased during the 17th century. A general increase in knowledge made society’s elites ask for evidence when witches were charged. In time people stopped believing that there existed phenomenons like broom flights in the night.
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