Renaissance Christianity, Natural Disasters and Witchcraft Term Paper by Quality Writers

Renaissance Christianity, Natural Disasters and Witchcraft
A look at how Christians throughout Europe responded to natural disasters and the ways in which they contributed to certain widespread notions of eschatology.
# 103775 | 1,965 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2008 | US

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This paper argues that Christians, during the late medieval period and the proto-modern period before the advent of the Enlightenment, responded to disasters by seeking out scapegoats and attributing them to something they had done to incur the wrath of God. The paper points out that the determination to find scapegoats for pestilence or crop failure invariably led to the witch hunts that extended over a period encompassing roughly seven centuries, from about the thirteenth century until well into the nineteenth century. To better understand this phenomenon, the paper examines the eschatological assumptions of the age. The paper concludes that Christian eschatology had the effect, for many centuries, of convincing large numbers of Europeans that the return of the Almighty was near and that righteous Christians would fortify their souls by rooting out those who were heretical, unfaithful, and responsible for unnatural natural disasters.

From the Paper:

"Between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is estimated that one million people in Europe were executed for witchcraft. Additionally, those witchcraft trials which have survived the passage of time appear to have frequently been conducted by ecclesiastical (Christian) courts. In the earliest trials, the institution of the Church took the lead role; by the end of the aforementioned period, it appears as though the Church was rarely, if ever, involved. In any case, whatever the amount of blame one wishes to affix to the European Christian Church, it would be inaccurate to suggest that only religious factors - however important - determined the actions of Europeans when confronted with a meteorological crisis they could not understand."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Brown, Peter. "Sorcery, Demons, and the Rise of Christianity from Late Antiquity into the Middle Ages," in Witchcraft Concessions & Accusations, edited by Mary Douglas, 17-45. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1970.
  • "The Bull of Innocent VIII," Malleus Malleficarum, n.d., <> (accessed April 16, 2007).
  • Coulton, G.G. Five Centuries of Religion, Vol.III . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1950.
  • Flint, Valerie. "The Demonisation of Magic and Sorcery in Late Christian Redefinitions of Pagan Religions," in Ancient Greece and Rome, edited by Stuart Clark, 277-378. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 1999.
  • Kieckhefer, Richard. "Radical Tendencies in the Flagellant Movement of the Mid-Fourteenth Century," Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 4 (1974): 157-176

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Renaissance Christianity, Natural Disasters and Witchcraft (2008, May 26) Retrieved March 25, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Renaissance Christianity, Natural Disasters and Witchcraft" 26 May 2008. Web. 25 March. 2023. <>