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Male Witches History

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ChristopherBlackwell Post number 25935 Posted: 27th October 2019     Subject: Male Witches History
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The long and underappreciated history of male witches - and the countries where more men were prosecuted for witchcraft
More men than women were prosecuted for witchcraft in countries such as Normandy, Estonia, Burgundy, Russia and Iceland
By Dr Kate Lister
Friday, 25th October 2019, 8:26 am
Friday, 25th October 2019, 3:52 pm
Fiction is one thing, but the mythology of the witch can also spill over into what we think of as historical fact. So entrenched is the belief that witches are women that radical feminist Mary Daly once called the witch hunts that swept across early modern Europe a ‘woman’s holocaust’. But, the history of the witch trials is far more complex. Not only were many thousands of men tried and executed as witches, but in countries like Normandy, Estonia, Burgundy, Russia and Iceland, more men than women were prosecuted for witchcraft.
In Iceland, between 1625 and 1685, 92 per cent of those prosecuted for witchcraft were men, the most infamous trial being that of a father and son named Jón Jónsson in 1655, known as the Kirkjuból witch trial. When the Reverend Jón Magnússon began waking in the night to the sensation of cats and mice crawling over his feet, of a dog with red hot claws pinning his body to the bed, he had no doubt that he had been bewitched. What was more, Magnússon was certain he knew who was behind his torment. When his night terrors began, the older Jón Jónsson, while drunk, had admitted he had sent a spirit to taunt the reverend. Magnússon became convinced that the father and son were cursing him because a few weeks earlier he had been forced to reprimand the younger Jónsson for punching a woman in church. This was all the evidence Magnússon needed that the Jónssons were out to get him and he took his case to the sheriff in Súðavík.
In Russia, approximately 75 per cent of those accused of witchcraft were men. Explanations for this vary from Russian Orthodox Christianity’s interpretation of witchcraft to the influence of Viking colonisation, but when historian Valerie A. Kivelson analysed 250 Russian witchcraft trails she found that a significant subset of the accused were itinerants known as the ‘guliashchie liudi’, or ‘wandering people’; minstrels, monks, seasonal labourers, peddlers, freed slaves, and so forth. Although women could be wanderers as well, men were far more likely to roam the country looking for work and it seems that this social subset were heavily stigmatised and therefore more closely associated with witchcraft than any other.

Between 1564 and 1660, over 70 per cent of the 380 known witchcraft defendants in Rouen, Normandy were men. In Normandy, the archetypical witch was not an old woman or a wanderer, but a shepherd. In fact, nearly half the men accused of witchcraft in the Pays de Caux region of Normandy were shepherds (28 out of 59). As late as 1703, the Rouen Parliament sentenced three shepherds to be burned to death for "having broken down a church door at night and carried off some Hosts from the tabernacle as well as holy water from the baptismal fonts". Why shepherds? No one is quite sure, but it is thought that their association with the wolves that hunt their flocks and the long nights spent out in the wilds had something to do with it.

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Wisdom is what is left after you have done all the dumb stuff
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