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Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷
+ Your AuthorsArchive @MikeStuchbery_ Writer, Journalist & Teacher. Sometimes does stuff for @TheLocalEurope. Aug. 07, 2021 2 min read

If there's one thing I know about, it's witch hunts. Witch hunts in Early Modern Europe were almost always predicated on a) fanciful explanations for natural phenomena and b) the settling of long-held grudges - both the realm of today's anti-vaxxers and Covidiots.

The sizable witch hunts at Trier, Fulda, Bamberg and Würzburg, in what is today Germany, took place during a century defined by not only internecine warfare and all that entails, but a significant drop in temperatures, caused by what's known as the 'Little Ice Age'.

Early Modern German society, that was dependant on agriculture at a near subsistence level, would suffer heavily from any drop in temperatures.

Sudden changes in the weather, therefore, were viewed with terror and awe.

After the publishing of the spurious 'Malleus Maleficarum', a manual devoted to the identification and hunting of 'witches' by Heinrich Kramer, a disgraced friar, in the 15th century, blame for foul weather that impacted crops was laid squarely at 'witches' in league with Satan.

You can draw a straight line between the influence of texts like the 'Malleus Maleficarum' - which was at times condemned by the Church - and any number of modern, online sources that spread misinformation regarding Covid-19, and in particular the side-effects of vaccines.

Witch hunts in Early Modern Europe were also driven by grudges and prejudices. They acted as a chance to settle scores.

The witch trial at Würzburg led to the execution of the homeless.

The witch trial that involved the mother of Johannes Kepler involved a property squabble.

In 17th century Esslingen, near Stuttgart (not far from where Kepler's mother was tried in Leonberg), Daniel Hauff, a jurist, effectively murdered his way up through the city council, with a few choice accusations of witchcraft.

Lest we forget Matthew Hopkins, the English 'Witchfinder General', who made a killing (literally) in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk in the 1640s.

Critics of Hopkins, it must be noted, often ended up on his lists of the accused.

Again, there's not much separating the accusers of Kepler's mother, the burghers of Würzburg, Hauff and Hopkins from those who've stepped into the spotlight today.

They're there to attack specific socio-economic or ethnic groups, or to make a quick buck.

There are no similarities between those who are pro-vaccination, and the instigators of 17th century witch hunts.

There ARE many s between anti-vaxxers/covid-deniers, and those who howled for blood by the gallows.

Tobes, you're a clown. /FIN

You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.


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