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EASTERN EUROPE, WITCHCRAFT IN. Widespread persecution of witchcraft began significantly later in all the lands of Eastern Europe (primarily Poland, Hungary, and Russia) than in the West. The intensity of witch-hunting, however, varied considerably from region to region. In general, those lands in close proximity to the German Empire experienced the severest witch-hunts, most closely resembling the Western model. On the other hand, lands that adhered to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, as opposed to Roman Catholicism, experienced significantly less witch-hunting activity.

The Kingdom of Poland experienced by far the most severe witchhunts in the East. As many as 10,000 executions might ultimately have taken place in Polish lands. However, the hunts began significantly later there than in Western Europe. Large-scale persecution in Poland did not begin until after 1650, and the period of the most intense hunts was between 1675 and 1725, with the largest trials taking place in the 18 th century. In general, the hunts in Poland followed the pattern of those in the German Empire. The major factors underlying

42 • EASTERN EUROPE, WITCHCRAFT IN

the large number of trials and executions in Poland were the widespread acceptance of the full stereotype of witchcraft, linking simple harmful sorcery, or maleficium, with intense diabolism, the relative lack of centralized judicial control (which, when present, tended to keep down the number of convictions and the severity of punishment in witch trials), and the widespread use of torture.

Given Poland's proximity to and close connections with German-speaking lands, it is not surprising that the Polish hunts followed a German model, or that the hunts were most severe in the western regions of the country nearest to German territories and with a large German-speaking population. The problem comes in explaining why the Polish hunts began so late. From 1655 to 1660, the first northern war between Sweden and Russia ravaged the country, producing severe social and economic disruption and dislocation, which in turn may have led to an increase in concern over witchcraft. In addition, after 1648, the Catholic majority in Poland became increasingly intolerant of Protestantism, and this heightened religious tension may have contributed to a fear of witches. Finally, only in the second half of the 17th century did the secular courts in Poland begin to claim jurisdiction in cases of witchcraft instead of ecclesiastical courts, which generally tended to be less ruthless in their prosecutions.

Hungary, a state almost equal to Poland in population, experienced significantly fewer trials and well under 1,000 executions. As in Poland, the trials only really began in the second half of the 17th century, and were most severe in the early 18th. Witchcraft accusations were often colored by elements of particular Hungarian folklore, particularly the figure of the taltos. These were magicians specializing, in particular, in forms of magical healing, and who also engaged in a form of shamanism, entering trances to encounter and combat forces in the spirit world. Moreover, there is evidence that the decline in trials for witchcraft in the 18th century, imposed from above by the empress Maria Theresa's enlightened legislation, was met by a rise in beliefs about vampires and vampirism. Vampires provided an alternate supernatural explanation for misfortune when witchcraft was no longer available.

With perhaps less than 100 known executions, Russia had almost no witch craze to speak of. What hunts there were came late, after the middle of the 17 th century, as elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The most

ERASMUS, DESIDERIUS (1466-1536) • 43

obvious reason for this delay in the rise of major witch trials was that only in the middle of the 17th century did the tsar move to make witchcraft a crime for the secular courts, as opposed to ecclesiastical ones. Witchcraft in Russia was marked by an extremely high number of men among the accused. Indeed, only slightly over 30 percent of accused witches in Russia were women, in marked contrast to Western lands. Moreover, Orthodox Russia never accepted the intensely diabolical image of the witch prevalent among both Catholic and Protestant authorities in the West. Rather, in Russia, witchcraft remained a crime of simple maleficium.

ENDOR, WITCH OF. A famous witch of the Bible. In 1 Samuel 28, King Saul, who has exiled all the sorcerers and seers from his kingdom, nevertheless seeks supernatural guidance before a battle against the Philistines. Because God will not answer him, he goes to consult a "witch" (she is actually described as a seer or medium) living in En-dor. She summons the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel for the king.

Later Christian theologians in the medieval and early-modern periods generally argued that the Witch of Endor could not really have summoned the spirit of Samuel. Rather she, like other witches and supposed seers, actually summoned a demon, who appeared in the form of Samuel. Thus, she became a model for the involvement of witches in demonic magic and in the spreading of demonic deception. Opponents of belief in witchcraft also used the story of the Witch of Endor, seeing in it an example of simple human deception. The skeptical author Reginald Scot, for example, in his Discoverie of Witchcraft, argued that the Witch of Endor had no supernatural powers of any sort, divine or demonic, but simply fooled Saul with the aid of a human accomplice.

ENGLAND. See BRITISH ISLES, WITCHCRAFT IN.

ERASMUS, DESIDERIUS (1466-1536). Perhaps the greatest scholar of his day, and the most important figure in the history of northern humanism, Erasmus was born in the Netherlands, at Rotterdam, and studied at the University of Paris, among other places. A great classical scholar as well as a scholar of the Bible and the early church fathers, especially Saint Jerome, he is not nearly so important a figure

in the history of witchcraft as he is in other areas. Like many other humanists, he was skeptical of many cases of witchcraft. He did not deny the existence of demons or the devil, nor did he deny their real power in the world, but he realized that many witch trials were hopelessly flawed, that the uncontrolled use of torture and other improper procedures produced many false confessions, and that many of the people accused of witchcraft were simple peasants with little chance of defending themselves. As a textual scholar of the Bible, he also realized that there was no biblical basis for witchcraft as it was conceived in his day.

ERICTHO. A famous witch in classical literature, Erictho appears in the Roman poet Lucan's epic poem Pharsalia about the war between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Unlike some other major sorceresses in Greco-Roman mythology and literature, such as Circe or Medea, both of whom are depicted as beautiful, if dangerously powerful, women, Erictho is a hideous, almost semi-demonic figure. She lives in Thessaly, a land long associated with sorcery in ancient times. On the eve of the decisive battle, the son of Pompey comes to consult with Erictho, asking her to divine the future by summoning the spirits of the dead. Lucan describes in great detail how she uses body parts stolen from graves in her magic. In the later Middle Ages and early-modern period, the figure of Erictho became a model for the image of the witch as a hideous old hag.

ERRORES GAZARIORUM. The "Errors of the Gazarii" is a brief but extremely lurid tract describing the actions of a heretical sect of witches (gazarius was a common term for heretics at this time). Written by an anonymous cleric, most likely an inquisitor, probably in Savoy around the middle of the 1430s, it is among the first writings to describe witches as being members of a secret, conspiratorial, satanic cult. Gathering at a sabbath (here termed a "synagogue"), the witches renounced the Christian faith, worshiped the devil, who usually appeared in the form of a black cat or other animal, killed and devoured babies and small children, and engaged in sexual orgies with each other and with demons. They also performed a variety of acts of harmful sorcery, or maleficium, including producing poison, killing and causing infertility, and raising destructive storms.

Surviving in only two manuscript copies, the Errores exists in two distinct versions — an earlier and shorter version and a slightly later and significantly expanded version. The longer version of the tract describes witches flying on staves, making it one of the earliest sources to accept as a reality what was to become the stereotypical image of the night flight of witches. In most other respects, witchcraft as depicted in the Errores is similar to what is found in other early writings on the subject by Johannes Nider, Claude Tholosan, Hans Frund, and Martin Le Franc. The tract seems to have been associated in some way with the Council of Basel, and the later version was probably influenced by early witch trials conducted in the diocese of Lausanne.

EUGENIUS IV, POPE (1383-1447). Eugenius reigned as pope from 1431 until 1447, during a period when the full stereotype of witchcraft was just beginning to emerge as a clearly defined concept, when some of the first real witch-hunts were taking place in lands in and around the western Alps, and when many of the first treatises and authoritative accounts describing witchcraft were written. He himself was at least to some extent directly concerned with matters of demonic sorcery and witchcraft. In 1434, he issued a letter in which he briefly discussed magicians performing demonic magic, and in 1437, he issued a letter to all papal inquisitors in which he declared that there were many people practicing demonic sorcery throughout Christendom. Throughout his reign, Eugenius was involved in nearly constant strife with the Council of Basel, to the extent that the council eventually declared Eugenius deposed and appointed the duke of Savoy, Amadeus VIII, as anti-pope Felix V in his stead. Refusing, obviously, to recognize this deposition, in 1440 Eugenius issued a statement to the council in which he declared that the lands of Savoy were well known to be full of witches, who were called stregule or stre-gonos in the vulgar tongue. Eugenius was clearly motivated by his opposition to the council and Amadeus/Felix, but regardless of this fact, the lands of Savoy were the location of many early witch trials, and the pope's statements might have reflected widely held opinion about the perceived prevalence of witchcraft in this region.

EVIL EYE. Also known as fascination, the evil eye refers to the power of witches to effect harm simply through their gaze or the glance of

their eyes. This is surely one of the most widespread of all forms of folk-magic, and the evil power of glances or stares is known in many world cultures. For example, in Europe alone it exists in France as the mauvais oeil, in Germany as the böse Blick, and perhaps most famously in Italy as the mal occhio. The term itself arises from the Bible, Mark 7:21-22, where Christ states, "from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness" (this from the King James' Version; the term is oculus malus in the medieval Latin Vulgate).

Drawing on pre-modern scientific thought that the eye saw by emitting rays rather than receiving them, theories of natural magic held that the evil eye might work by transmitting harmful intentions along these rays, thereby affecting the person held in the gaze. De-monological theories maintained that witches simply signaled to demons by the glance of their eyes the victims whom they sought to afflict. Fairly common among folk beliefs was the idea that the evil eye might be either intentional or unintentional. That is, some witches might deliberately seek to harm through the glance of their eyes, but others might be unaware that their gaze contained such power, or at least be unable to control or deliberately employ such power. Many forms of amulets and charms were devised for protection from the evil eye.

EXORCISM. Referring to the casting out of demonic spirits and curing cases of demonic possession, the practice of exorcism in the Christian tradition is based on such biblical passages as Luke 9:1 ("Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons"). Very early in the history of Christianity, the office of exorcist became one of the minor orders of the church. Thus an exorcism could refer to the formal religious ceremony of casting out a demon performed by a cleric, and remains to this day an official (although little-used and somewhat disreputable) rite of the Roman Catholic Church (Protestant denominations long ago abandoned the official rite of exorcism). In addition, however, the word exorcism could be used more generally to describe the act of commanding a demon, just as other words such as adjuration and conjuration, and in texts on witchcraft and demonology written throughout the me-

dieval and early-modern periods the Latin verb exorcizare was often used almost interchangeably with the verbs adjurare and conjurare.

Taken in this second sense, a legitimate exorcism could be performed by any faithful Christian as a defense against witchcraft or remedy for bewitchment. Because witches performed all of their harmful sorcery through the power of demons, afflicted people could invoke the power of Christ to ward off or overcome the demonic assault. Exorcisms in this sense, as well as the official ecclesiastical ceremony, were extremely important during the entire period of the witch-hunts. The official rite of exorcism was often sought as a cure for demonic possession, which could be brought about by witchcraft or taken as a sign of bewitchment. Non-clerical witch doctors, folk magicians, and cunning men and women, however, often also claimed to wield a religious or at least quasi-religious authority over demons. Although recognizing the ability of all the faithful, clerical or not, to call on the name and power of Christ to expel demons, religious authorities were often suspicious of lay witch doctors. In many regions, particularly where witch-hunting was especially severe and panic ran high, such people were often accused of being witches themselves.

EYMERIC, NICOLAU (1320-1399). A Dominican friar and inquisitor in the Kingdom of Aragon, Eymeric wrote his most important work, the influential inquisitorial manual Directorium inquisitorum (Directory of Inquisitors), in 1376 while in exile at the papal court in Avignon. Like the Practica inquisitionis haeretice pravitatis (Practice of Inquisition into Heretical Depravity) of the inquisitor Bernard Gui half a century earlier, Eymeric's treatise was a general handbook of procedures to be used in conducting an inquisition. As such, it included sections on sorcery and demonic invocation. In terms of the development of learned, clerical thought about magic, however, Eymeric's handbook is even more important than Gui's, for Eymeric established the basic argument that demonic invocation necessarily entailed the worship of demons. Thus, all demonic magic was de facto heretical and subject to the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts and papal inquisitors.

As an inquisitor, Eymeric seems to have been particularly interested in sorcery and demonic magic. Several years prior to writing his more

general Directorium, he wrote a Tractatus contra daemonum invoca-tores (Treatise Against Invokers of Demons), which served as a basis for the sections on sorcery and demonic magic in his later manual. Eymeric presented long, theological arguments to demonstrate that demons could not be summoned or commanded for magical purposes without some form of worship being offered to them. Ultimately, he argued that simply to invoke a demon for supernatural aid, when a true Christian should turn in prayer to God, was to show the demon a form of adoration (latria) due only to God. This amounted to idolatry (idolatria), and meant that all demonic magic could be considered a form of heresy. Eymeric's arguments formed the basis of the church's position against demonic sorcery for the rest of the Middle Ages and into the early-modern period. Eymeric never discussed witchcraft in his writings, and clearly was concerned primarily with learned demonic magic, or necromancy. His argument that all demonic magic involved the worship of demons, however, obviously had important consequences for the development of the concept of witchcraft and the persecution of witches in later years.

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