Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Type

Honors Project

School

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

John Mazis

Abstract

Persecution has occurred in society since the beginning of human interaction. Individuals labeled as witches were often targeted for persecution, particularly in Europe from the 15th until the 17th century. This paper focuses on the Spanish Inquisition and examines why the Inquisition was more lenient towards individuals accused of witchcraft in comparison to the secular councils in various Spanish regions. The hysteria commonly associated with witch-hunts did not consume the Spanish Inquisition officials, even as the rest of Europe was hunting heretics. The meticulous methods used by the Inquisition and how those methods influenced their final rulings on witchcraft are examined, as well as how the Inquisition changed over two and a half centuries. Specific incidents of witch-hunts in Spanish regions are also analyzed, like the Basque and Navarre witch hunts. The Spanish Inquisition was less likely to punish witches because they wanted to focus on driving out Muslims and Jews. Tolerance in the Spanish regions of older mystical religious beliefs in addition to Catholicism and the logical methods the Inquisitors used to question witches also contributed to the milder witch trials. The actions of the secular courts are compared to the actions of the Spanish Inquisition in order to highlight the differences between the two groups. This in-depth look at witch trials will add to the limited studies done by historians on the subject of Spanish witchcraft.

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